My girls are a bit like me… crafty, geeky and curious. One wants to be a robot engineer, the other… well, a princess. My girls like play with toys that require some kind of a build – Flexees, blocks, Makedo pieces, cardboard (oh, don’t get me going on our cardboard obsession), Hexbug tracks, train tracks… I’m sure I’d add more if the kids could keep their rooms clean. Our home is scattered with pieces of cut paper, cardboard, ribbon, crayons, containers in the process of being upcycled, markers, staples (ouch) and the tape—oh the amount of tape we go through! Seriously, no matter how much I clean up, one of our girls is starting a new “project” where I just finished cleaning.
So when someone from my Facebook Mom Blogger group posted about an opportunity to check out “Build It! The Kid Workshop” I knew I had to bite (and make my kids’ mess someone else’s problem). Build It is a place where kids can create DIY projects in collaboration with their parents (if they choose). Being a DIYer, the moment I heard “kid workshop” I was sold. What also intrigued me was that it was started by Rudy Gonzales, a stay-at-home dad by way of being laid-off in the biotech field.
A few weeks ago, I took my girls with me to visit the workshop and have some fun. The moment we stepped inside the kids were anxious to go in. They saw stations of Citiblocks, marble runs, Legos and Magnatiles. We were briefed on some rules of the place (pretty much, “be clean and don’t hurt anyone or do anything to hurt yourself”) and were set loose in the workshop.
My eyes immediately focused on the Makedo multi-tool and I knew this was my kind of place. (Heck yeah—we’re gonna build some sh**!) We moved our sights to the marble run table and built a contraption to launch marbles and have it go through a run that chimed and knocked. I could have stayed there the whole day.
The kids went from table-to table, making, building, experimenting. I found myself explaining mass and velocity to my 4-year-old while we were building lego cars to test. My 8-year-old spotted the rapid prototyping machine (a.k.a. 3-D printer) and we got to see it in action. There was a mini “Hans Solo in Ice” created by the machine (which made me realize that my kids have never seen Star Wars – add that to the geek-in-training list). The staff was very knowledgeable and were geeks just like me (I use the term lovingly). I felt at ease discussing Arduino boards and Scratch programming and realized that they were teaching this to KIDS! What an awesome thing to do!
The best part of the day was building a “Brushbot” out of a toothbrush motor, battery pack and a dish brush. I knew my 8-year-old would have no problem putting it together, but I was even more impressed that my 4-year-old could follow along and participate with little assistance. Once built, they got to get creative and decorate their robots.
You’d be amazed at how well these things move! If your kids have Hexbug nanos, you’ll understand how the robot works – the toothbrush motor vibrates the bristles, which act like little legs. Since the bristles aren’t position in a particular direction, they move like crazy!
Leaving was hard. The kids wanted to stay even though we’ve been there for 3 hours! We don’t even stay at a museum that long – which is a testament to how great this place is.
Build It – The Kid Workshop is located at 1818 Marron Road, Suite 103, Carlsbad, CA in the North County Plaza shopping center. Visit their website at http://www.thekidworkshop.com for their hours and calendar. They host private events, have game/robot programming classes, and offer a “Daily Build” where for an extra fee, you can build a special project (like the brushbot or a cardboard helicopter).
Take your kids and you will have fun, too! My hope is that Mr. Gonzales will be able to open more workshops so that kids will have easy access to enjoy this experience!
Disclosure: I was offered a discounted rate to review the workshop. All opinions are my own.