Science Engineering Week – March 14th-23rd 2014
As Science Engineering Week is coming up (March 14th-23rd 2014) I agreed to review Interplay’s Rivetz Dragon with my 10 year old son. A combination of the fields of maths and science, Engineering aims to improve the World around us by providing solutions to problems. Engineers take a thought, or abstract idea, then using cost-effective and practical approaches make them a reality. Engineers need to define the problem and use critical thinking to consider the constraints (how much it costs and how long it will take for example). This includes working with buildings, roads, bridges, cars, airplanes, boats, computers, and so on. The skills needed to be an Engineer utilised whilst building the 3D Rivetz Dragon construction were problem solving, organisation, communicating, logical thinking and calculating. I feel it would also inspire going on to design further constructions – as the skills utilised would be the same.
Interplay’s Rivetz Dragon Contents and Instructions
- 1 x Technokit Rivetz Gun
- 40 x Technokit Rivetz Rivets
- 40 x Technokit Rivetz Rivet Centres
- 30 x Printed card pieces
- Detailed instruction manual
Interplay’s Rivetz Dragon is an amazing 3D sculpture construction activity, utilising pre-cut card and an easy on and off rivet gun. The unique self-locking Rivetz system means that no glue is required. What this ultimately means is that mistakes can be made and easily rectified.
The first thing to do is to read all the instructions, but even without them it would be possible to work out how to put it together as all the pieces that need riveting together share the same letter. Each letter also tells you how many pieces go together with that rivet and in which order by a numerical system (e.g 1/5 means one of five and you put place them in numerical order). Important things to remember are that the coloured side is always towards the rivet gun, (unless it has the squiggly turn around symbol on, which means have the plain side facing the gun) and that how the card is folded (a dashed line means fold so that the coloured side is on the inside and a solid line means fold on the outside).
My son did find some of it frustrating, such as step 26, which seems just to say “Now join Head and Neck assembly to the body and wings” – but actually the following steps below that tell you how to ‘join’ them. I do think that this could have been better explained (maybe underlined as opposed to a step), but then my son would not have had the experience of problem solving what it meant.
To load the rivet gun you rotate the plunger clockwise, making sure it is fully extended, push the rivet centre into the barrel, and then slide rivet on the end of the barrel. Next line up the holes in sequence (making sure they are facing the right way), push rivet prongs through, release the trigger and slide the gun barrel off the rivet.
If you make a mistake and need to remove the rivet, then press the plunger and rotate it anti clockwise, slide the gun over the rivet, slowly squeeze the trigger, this pushes the rivet centre out, releasing the rivet, which can then be removed.
Interplay’s Rivetz Dragon and How it builds on Engineering Skills
Engineers need organisational and planning skills. The alphabetically/numerical labelled card pieces are attached to different sheets numbered 1-9, but have not been put in the order that you need them (probably as so not to waste card). On the instructions it tells you which sheet number each piece is that is required for that step. My oldest son was keen to help pop out all the pieces and get folding them (and removing the circle bits where the rivets go through). If we had let him do this it would have still been possible to build the Dragon as each piece is clearly marked with its letter and number. However to find each piece would have taken more time, and I did not think it was worth it. My ‘Engineer’ decided that what would be best is to put the numbered sheets in numerical order to make finding them easier.
Sometimes Engineers work as individuals and other times they work in teams. What is important about working in a team is that they have to be clear communicators. At times the Rivet Dragon was either too complicated for my 10 year old to get his head around, or he simply needed help with trying to hold so many parts together and squeezing the trigger.
My oldest son is studying Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths at A-level (and predicted high grades) so it is relatively hard for his 10 year old brother to argue with him that he is wrong. Unfortunately he was right and the card did rip.
Engineers need to be good problem solvers – this was resolved by getting rid of the brother, using sticky tape, and going back a few steps. Some of the card is also labelled with which part of the dragon’s body it is (belly, shoulder blades, etc) and so my “Engineer” used logical thinking about how the dragon would fit together.
This activity did take some time and my son was not really keen to complete it. Another Engineering skill he utilised was how he calculated how long to spend on it, and which pieces to complete so he did not get confused about what he was doing when he came back to it.
National Science & Engineering Week (NSEW) is a ten-day national programme of science, technology, engineering and maths events and activities across the UK aimed at people of all ages.
See what other bloggers thought of the Rivetz Kits at:
For more inspiring ideas to get your children into Science visit Science Sparks
I received a free Interplay Rivetz Dragon for purposes of review. All words and opinions are my own.