Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tinkering by Curt Gabrielson

My kids are at the point in their life where they are naturally curious. They're still really young but it's interesting seeing them learn new things. I got this wondering what it would teach me that I could teach them and I have found that it's a nice reference for doing basic science experiments.
About half of the chapters go through a subject matter of some sort and each has a different set of items that can be made or tested out. Think of them as pretty simple projects a kid around 10 could make by themselves if they are handy or they can do it with the help of an adult. Interspersed between chapters, you have notes that are meant more for parents or mentors of kids that want to "tinker." They have some good things to say and of the advice I saw there, the one that stuck out most was that it's okay to be hands off and let kids fail every once in a while. You learn more by failing a couple of times and figuring out what went wrong than by getting it right the first time. I'm not trying to seem full of myself but a lot of things came naturally to me and I got them right the first time but that has also really held me back in some ways because I didn't fail that often. Because of that, I hold back on things I might fail on when I know I should just give it a go. If it breaks, it shouldn't matter but I'm scared that it won't work the first time.
Anyway, for anyone that wants their kids to tinker with things and learn in a hands-on way, this is a great book to pick up.

Disclaimer: This book was received as part of the O'Reilly Review Program. All comments represent my thoughts and opinions.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Beautiful LEGO by Mike Doyle

So, I had some LEGOs when I grew up but I never really got into it that much because I either wasn't that creative or because I would make something and then not want to take it apart because I didn't want to lose what I had. Kind of a lame way to grow up with LEGO right?
Well, I was flipping through the list of available products to review as an O'Reilly reviewer and came across Beautiful LEGO. I want to make it known that I received this book for free in return for a review.
I wasn't sure what this would be and as a paid book, unless you really love LEGO or pictures, it's probably not going to be worth the money for the book itself, especially the digital version. The captions for some pictures are on the next page, pictures that span two pages get broken up, and it's kind of a pain in that sense. HOWEVER, the creations made by these various LEGO artists are absolutely amazing!
This book is just very simple. It has pictures of creations and a few, short interviews from various artists. It doesn't tell you how to make anything or give any step-by-step items like typical LEGO related books so if you're looking for that, go elsewhere. If you just want to admire people's creations though, this is excellent.
What I liked most about all of the creations had to be the birds/animals, the architecture, and the vehicles. There are some other impressive items but three mentioned categories really show the creativity and detail that go into these builds. At least that is my opinion on the content.
If I had not received the book for free, I would not have paid money for this, mainly because I'm a cheapskate, but for any LEGO fan or artistic type, this would make an excellent coffee table book for people to thumb through or to give kid's inspiration on what they can do with their bricks. It's an excellent book with wonderful pictures.