Used to be, we had chemistry sets, and those sparked the minds of generations of young scientists. Where are the DIY, at-home science-fair kits of the 21st century? Change Observer has a piece up about an amazing project along those lines: BigShot, a built-it-yourself digital camera for kids. As Julie Lasky writes:
Packaged as a kit of parts, Bigshot teaches scientific and engineeringprinciples along the way to assembly. Not only do kids have the fun ofbuilding a useful object from scratch, but as they manipulate thelenses, gears and dynamo (the camera is powered with a hand crank),they learn about optics, mechanics and energy. A companion Web site designed by [Shree] Nayar and several of his Columbia graduate students offers lucid tutorials in each concept.
Design wise, the camera itself is kind of genius: Rather than having a complicated, internal system for changing lenses, there's an external wheel that cycles through wide-angle, 3-D, panoramic, and standard options.
Read the rest of the story at Change Observer.