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Exploring Engineering with Hands-on Building Systems

Born on May 15, 1863: Frank Hornby, an inventor whose "toys" included Meccano, an engineering construction set of nuts, bolts, and strips of sheet metal. Hornby first devised the system for his children. When he moved on to mass produce Meccano, he marketed the product as "Mechanics Made Easy." Meccano sets, introduced for sale in 1902, resemble Erector sets, and today Meccano owns the Erector brand.

Whether beams and bolts or brick-based, toy building systems give kids (and tinkerers of all ages!) the chance to explore engineering, mechanics, and, today, even robotics. In the "Stair Master: Build an All-Terrain Robot" robotics Project Idea, students use LEGO® Mindstorms® to experiment with different kinds of wheel alternatives. Not every wheel suits every need. Identifying the challenge or problem is an important step in the engineering design process!

What does it take to build a successful all-terrain robot? The best way to find out and to test your theory about what will work is to put it to the test!


Making Science Connections

Our "today in Science History" posts make students, teachers, and parents aware of important discoveries and scientists in history and help connect science history to hands-on K-12 science exploration that students (and families) can do today. To follow along, join us at Facebook or at Google+. These frequent science history tidbits can be great for class, dinner, or car-ride discussion!

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