A special day with the kids
With light rain and cool temperatures, May 8, 2019 dawned bearing little resemblance to spring. As their beaming faces showed, however, some 20 children aged between four and six at SEW EURODRIVE's Morgentau children's daycare center were not going to be put off by the weather. They had been looking forward to this second KIDS DRIVE DAY for a long time. After all, they were being allowed to help the "big kids" – the eight technical trainees – build something really great.
The goal for the day was to build a child-friendly, weatherproof Connect Four game for the daycare center that could subsequently also be used outdoors. In actual fact, no fewer than four games were assembled in four separate groups on the day in question, which meant all the youngsters could get involved. "We're intending to auction off the other games for charity," revealed Markus Süss, head of technical training at SEW EURODRIVE.
Using different materials for a change
The event kicked off on time at exactly 10 a.m. The individual parts developed and prepared in advance by the trainees over a two-week period were ready and waiting, complete with assembly plans, at four separate stations. The trainees and their trainers were amazed to see how enthusiastic the children – this time predominantly girls – were right from the start. Some of them were even reluctant to put down their tools.
Business before pleasure, so the saying goes, but that didn't apply in this case. Once the individual parts had been admired and explained, the fun of assembling the game started under the trainees' expert and friendly guidance.
Learning by doing was the order of the day for the young boys and girls, very few of whom had any experience with tools such as screwdrivers, Allen keys and hammers. The same applied to the materials. "That shines like real gold," said a girl holding a brass rotary joint in fascinated amazement. The youngsters were also impressed by the round discs used to play the game, which were made of transparent acrylic glass in fluorescent yellow and red.
Teamwork a must
The children had to pay attention and think hard or simply try things out when the trainees supervising them asked: "So what's still missing?" or "Do you think that's the right Allen key?" or "Does this bolt fit better in that hole or the other one?" Real teamwork was needed to assemble the games together. One child inserted the bolts, while others held items in place – either the bolt in question onto which a nut needed to be fitted or the frame being assembled.
It was far from easy for the children's tiny hands to thread the little bolts into the correct holes and then tighten the matching nut. How do you tighten bolts using an Allen key? Which end is it best to insert? How do I generate the greatest force? The children quickly learned that if the Allen key was prevented from turning any further, they needed to remove the tool from the bolt and re-position it. Otherwise, they would simply unscrew the bolt again.
Learning by Doing
Even the trainees found they were learning by doing in this project, because the standard aluminum profiles initially planned for the frame's legs turned out not to be sufficiently stable. This led to the ingenious idea of using MiniTec profiles instead.
"How do you get the discs back out of the frame?" asked one child. One of the trainers revealed the trick, unlocking the catch and rotating the pivoted frame to send all the discs tumbling out. The odd bolt also fell out during this process – another lesson learned. The children quickly reinserted and tightened these bolts.
"I've often done that at home," said one of the older boys with some previous experience of using tools, as he deftly handled the screwdriver. "You can have a job with us!" replied the impressed trainer.
"It was a great thing to be part of"
The KIDS DRIVE DAY was once again highly successful in its goals of introducing preschool children to technical processes as part of a game and awaking their interest in technology. The youngsters demonstrated an impressive level of motivation, concentration and physical effort. The trainees were also pleasantly surprised at how enthusiastically the kids from the daycare center handled the various tools, bolts and individual parts. One of them sums it up perfectly: "To be honest, I'd imagined the project very differently to start with, but I'm totally bowled over by how well it went with the children and how impressively they applied themselves. It was a great thing to be part of."
Learning through play in a safe, friendly environment is the motto at Morgentau.
Are you now wondering what an apprenticeship at SEW EURODRIVE would be like?