Engines and Children: Do They Mix?

One of my greatest fears of our generation is that we are raising a bunch of kids, and all they know how to do is play video games.  And we are afraid to let them do anything, but we are not really afraid to let them touch the video game.

We have no problem letting them sit in front of the video game for hours and hours, but we do have a problem with them going out in the garage and making something.  And I can understand the fears, I’ve got children of my own, so I understand the measure of difficulty when it comes down to having children become creative and think outside of the box.

Really what we are dealing with here is, letting a child explore and understand mechanics, and the go kart is a great vehicle (no pun intended) towards that creative process.   There is a whole host of things that can be learned from a go kart and one of them really is looking at intricate mechanics and being
able to diagnose, being able to understand how things work.

Go Karts Are Dangerous

But the biggest difficulty comes in that the fact is that they are dangerous.  Go karts are dangerous.  Engines are dangerous.  Gasoline will burn you.  Engines get hot.  They will burn you too.  Engines spin things.  Fingers can get caught.  You can just think of the horrible things that could happen because you are not wise in how you are dealing with an engine.

But Does That Mean That “Engines And Children Do Not Mix?”

What I did with my kids is that I found and engine for each one of my kids at the dump.  And I encouraged them to sit down with me while I was working on my project, to take their engine apart.

A very basic thing to do is just take the cylinder head off.    I would help them find the tool that would take the cylinder head off.  May be I would break a bolt  loose for them so they could unscrew it, but I would not do all the work for them, but let them figure it out.

Control Freak Parents…

One of the biggest things that a parent will run into is trying to be a control freak and run the whole project.  This is not about parents quite honestly,  this is about a child trying learn and become more innovative and creative in the world that is around him, that is really what this go kart project is all about.

When a parent comes in and basically takes all the fun out of it by doing everything, then the child never learns.    Never learns how to put it together, never learns how to wrench on anything, doesn’t understand how anything works.  By the time he grows up to be a 16 year old or even greater, everything has been given to him, including the go kart which he supposedly made.

The important thing I am trying to stress here is that engine and children can mix, it is just a matter of how you measure out the risk of danger.  You minimize the danger, that is really what I am saying.

Taking Apart Engines Is Relatively Safe

Having an engine sitting on the floor and having them take it apart is relatively safe.  There are parts of the engine that are dangerous.  For instance, if you are whirring the engine around you may get shocked by the spark plug wire, or the spark plug.

So you instruct them.  Show them.  Show them the danger.   Show them what is dangerous.    But at the same time instruct them how the engine actually works and functions.  What parts do what.  Show them what the parts are.  Have them take it completely apart, so they can understand what a connecting rod is, and a camshaft and how all those parts need to work together to form a system called and engine.

Allowing A Child To Pick Up A Tool And Use It Is Important

Allowing a child to pick up a wrench and be part of the team is very important.  The biggest problem comes in if you have like 3 or 4 or 5 kids and they want to help.   Gets to be a managing problem.  What can each kid do?

It is better to have a one on one situation where you are working with one kid at a  time, because then you can invest the energy that you need to.  So make sure that each child has something to do, as some part of the project that they can work on.

Usually what happens is that the youngest ones get left out because their skill, levels are not at the right skill set, so you have to make sure that when their time comes around that they are given ample time as well.

So that is my two cents worth on  “Do engines and children mix?”

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