Robotics Redefined knows kids learn by taking things apart

Robotics Redefined knows kids learn by taking things apart

current_Volume_bug3.jpgCrazy concept, right? Not really, just common sense. Of all the makers I’ve spoken to and interviewed in the past, most say that as children they learned through the insatiable desire to take things apart. In the current issue of MAKE, Volume 23, we profiled young Michigan maker Andrew Archer. At Maker Faire Detroit, I had the chance to meet Andrew and two of his partners in creativity, Bilal Ghalib and Alexander Honkala. Collectively, they were running the Robotics Redefined booth, a lively space set up with tools and old electronics, surrounded by kids who were deeply engaged and busily taking everything apart.


Andrew, Alexander, and Bilal took some time to come over to the MAKE booth, and present on our stage. They showed up with an old turntable, talked about learning through taking things apart, and started taking the turntable apart with some tools they had brought along. When tools failed, they did some smashing, and the innards were finally exposed. The audience, adults and kids alike, helped identify the major parts on the inside. Next question: What can we now make with this hunk of techno-junk? Alexander moved through the audience writing down ideas folks were offering.


In the end, they borrowed our Geared Candleholder (built from directions in MAKE Volume 21), grabbed a Repair Manifesto poster from iFixit, borrowed some gaffers tape, and put it all together to make the turntable parts rotate the main gear of the candleholder, moving the candles up and down (seen in the top shot). The kids were enthralled and loved it.

Appropriately, when I was chatting with Andrew’s mom, Jacqueline Campbell Archer, she recalled that when Andrew was little, he was completely uninterested in prefab toys. The family learned to bring him old electronics that he could take apart instead, keeping him occupied for hours.

Read the full profile, titled “Kid Robot,” in MAKE Volume 23.

From the pages of MAKE:

MAKE Volume 23, Gadgets
This special issue is devoted to machines that do delightful and surprising things. In it, we show you how to make a miniature electronic Whac-a-Mole arcade game, a tiny but mighty see-through audio amp, a magic mirror that contains an animated soothsayer, a self-balancing one-wheeled Gyrocar, and the Most Useless Machine (as seen on The Colbert Report!). Plus we go behind the scenes and show you how Intellectual Ventures made their incredible laser targeting mosquito zapper — yes, it’s real, and you wish you had one for your patio barbecue. All this and much, much more.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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