published on in Owen Caralyne Family Featured Geekyness

skynet began in a kitchen

Over the past year or so, Caralyne has become increasingly interested in scientastical things like computers, Minecraft, Robots, Mythbusters, and specifically, Mythbusters!

I’ve been using our TV for my own nefarious deeds, unbeknownst to Caralyne, as an educational tool in science and skepticism. Between Good Eats, Mythbusters and a few PBS clips of Neil Degrasse Tyson being awesome, something was bound to stick.

Also, as a daughter and child of mine, she is constantly seeking my affection and approval… which I am not above exploiting these features she no doubt got from me, so I give her a LOT of positive feedback and attention when we are watching these shows.

I ask her questions like “What do you think will happen?” and “Why are they doing that?”, and sometimes I’ll ask her to summarize.

It certainly has paid off! She signed up for “Science Day” at school, and when the Schoolastic book catalog came around, she picked out a Mythbusters Experiments book. It is a sweet, kid friendly book that has a collection of myths to bust. Well, some are myths, and some are just plain cool.

Since this was during the time I was going back and forth between Antioch and Santa Cruz, I tried to make our weekends together a little more exciting by doing one of the activities in her Mythbustere’s book. The first was making a Volcano:

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Waiting for Mt. El Monte’s eruption!

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Our eerie blue lava did not startle our fearless Aussie, he in fact licked up as much as he could (i bet it tasted like fish and chips…)

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We repeated this 3 to 4 times, it was a lot of fun

I somehow got the idea in my head that I should raise the bar and give something to Caralyne that was a little more challenging to work on. I talked with my buddy Steve and he reminded me that Fry’s has a neat collection of robotic kits, and that has been our latest project :)

We built it together; I did all of the soldering, and she did the rest of the assembly. I think it worked out well. Next time I’ll have her try her hand at soldering, maybe pull put the Volt/Ohm meter and let her verify the resistors.

It took a few weekends, which got stretched out over a few months due to the big move and all, but the process was very rewarding.

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Caralyne showing off the circuit board and gearbox

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Caralyne with her finished robot :) And Owen… Well, Owen has a bag for a hat. I’m not sure about that kid…

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Both of them watched the little robot crawl around, and Caralyne was excited to see that its sensor on the top would react to the environment.

I was actually surprised it worked. It has been a while since I’ve assembled something like this (not since Heald), and I remember when I did this kind of stuff in high school, a few of these kits never worked.

After a few more of these under her belt, I’d like to get her one that you can program. If I can get her started on learning a simple programming language before she turns into a teenager that hates me, I will feel a lot more secure in her future.