Friday, December 14, 2007

December Fool

LEGO Ambulance
Ambulance attends scene of
LEGO drive-by shooting
No, not Brown. For once.

Sometimes you see a story and seriously wonder if you have done a Rip van Winkle after a few too many pints of the black stuff and have woken up on April 1st.

This tale from Sky News is a typical example. Mercifully it now seems to be filed under their 'Strange Stories' category rather than in the main news section where I first read it this morning. It concerns a book entitled 'Forbidden LEGO' and, shock horror, it contains details of how to build a LEGO gun capable of firing, erm, LEGO bricks, worse still for some it looks set to become a best seller.

The response from the unnamed, but I suspect familiar quarters, is all too familiar:
But in Britain, there has been concern about the effect the book may have on children.

Source: Sky News

At least Sky have not had the sense of humour failure that those who are 'concerned' have had, as I'm sure their reporting of a commenter worrying that it was a slippery slope leading to the first LEGO nuclear weapon was as tongue-in-cheek as the comment.

From the video clip at sky the gun looks great fun and I'm sure the 'candy catapult' and 'continuous fire ping-pong ball launcher' the book promises are great too.

Without a doubt the most inspired bit of teaching I ever saw in my time at the local comprehensive was a series of lessons in Craft, Design and Technology, one of the few completely mixed ability lessons I did. In the spirit of 'Scrapheap Challenge' and 'The Great Egg Race' teams of two were given 4 lessons to build a machine to propel a ping-pong ball as far as possible, using all the offcuts of wood and metal we could scavenge and with all the tools and resources of the CDT department at our disposal, before the grand test session out on sports pitches.

For once, the whole class was keen to participate and took every detail seriously. I was seriously annoyed that by beautiful but complex mangonel type contraption came second to a machine that consisted of little more than a few strips of springy plywood laminated together. Even in that though there was a genuine lesson in design.

I only did CDT for the couple of years before selecting 'O' level options, but I do remember several people actually discovering that there was at least one subject at school that they actually enjoyed and thought was worth working at.

I'm pretty sure that if it had not involved the firing of projectiles or something equally non-politically correct, like a powered vehicle, the whole exercise would not have gone down quite so well. In a similar way, pre-Xmas chemistry lessons that produced bangs and flashes got everyone's attention without anyone going to suggest terrorism as a choice to a careers advisor.

As for the LEGO book, I shall admit that I succumbed to the temptation of a grown-up Meccano set a few years ago. I fear that once again I may have to nip out to buy a Xmas present for my fictitious nephew.

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