Tonight we did the first of the activities in the LEGO WeDo set: Dancing Birds. First you watch a little movie that sets up the scene. Mia and Max, two LEGO characters, are looking at a pair of dancing birds (they actually spin, but who’s counting?) The birds are spinning in the same direction. You have to build the model and get the birds to spin, then you have to figure out how to make them spin in opposite directions.
The girls grasped the concept of driver and driven gears right away (the LEGO set calls them “driver” and “follower”, though I guess in engineering they use slightly different jargon, according to DH). They understood that only one of the birds was connected to the motor, that the other bird was moving because it was connected to the first bird by the pulley. And they also figured out very quickly that they needed to put a twist in the pulley belt to get the birds to spin in opposite directions. So quickly, in fact, that I didn’t even get a picture of the pulleys connected with the untwisted belt. Sheesh.
At first, we used the software’s program for the motor (basically just an infinite “motor this way”). Then the girls got fancy with different speeds and directions.