Museum workshop puts parents, kids on same page

Apr. 19, 2014 @ 05:35 PM

It was drizzling and overcast outside, but was bright and busy on Saturday morning inside a Museum of Life and Science room where children, their parents, friends and relatives were busy assembling small robots from kits.

This was the second of three sessions held as part of the museum’s new Tinker Tech Family Workshop series that aim to bring science, technology, engineering and math to children outside of school.

“You rock,” Durham resident Tamara Atkinson said, speaking to her 9-year-old son Bradley at the workshop on Saturday. She gave him a high-five after she saw the Lego monkey he’d built was moving its arms as if it were banging on a drum.

The 17 children and adults worked in groups to build monkeys, airplanes and other creatures using Lego WeDo Construction Sets. The models plugged into computers and had moveable parts thanks to motors and sensors.

After building with the Lego kits, they moved on to assemble small vehicles using ArTec kits. The vehicles could move around lines using sensors.

Atkinson was there with Bradley as well as with her 11-year-old Joshua Atkinson, who was building a Lego model airplane with spinning propellers. After assembling the models, the children used the program to make sounds for the models.

“I’m learning during the process,” Atkinson said, as her son Joshua worked on the Lego model. She also said she thought Saturday’s workshop helped build her children’s imagination and problem-solving skills.

Brenda Felder was at the workshop with her 11-year-old son Henry Felder and her father, Carl Foster. She said her son Henry and Joshua are friends at school.

As she worked with Bradley on a Lego model and while her father was working with Henry, she said she thought the workshop rocks.

“I mean it’s the best because they’re not in front of a video,” she said, adding that it also brought three generations of her family together.

Foster also said he was learning something at the workshop.

“He understands it a lot better than I do,” he said of his grandson.

Anna Engelke, education specialist for the Museum of Life and Science, said Saturday’s workshop was the most popular so far in the series. She said the series builds on her own interests in robots and science.

“Who doesn’t like Legos?” she added.