Today at Crayons

Emergency Engineers!

22 August, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Today at Crayons we are featuring the Emergency Management Engineers who provide advice and guidance to our Emergency Services!   Whilst the Engineers featured are based in NSW no doubt there are their equivalents in all the other states of Australia :-)

Australia really is a land of extremes.   At times there can be bushfires, drought, earthquakes, landslides, natural or accidental disasters and extremely wild weather that require the help of the great Emergency Services people - Police, Firefighters and Ambulances - who come to our aid.   The Emergency Management Engineers are the folk that provide professional assessments and assistance in the most dangerous of situations as well as the cleaning up dangerous chemicals or spillages in the aftermath of a major emergency.

Another task these well trained engineers undertake is the search and rescue of victims of major structural collapses and their professionalism often finds them providing assistance to other countries around the world.   Engineering really is cool!

To help educate children about the Emergency Services, Crayons has the Emergency 000 Collection which features a variety of Emergency Services activities and toys for young heroes to play with :-)



The Pinterest site Learning Roof has some great Emergency Fire Services activities for children to do and we love the Firefighter songs!

Singing Engineers In Space!

21 August, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Today at Crayons we are delighted to feature the footage of Commander Chris Hadfield singing the David Bowie hit "Major Tom" on board the International Space Station.    We're big fans of all things astronomical at Crayons and when we can combine this with the amazing engineering of the ISS and some seriously cool music then it is a fine day!



In interviews Chris Hadfield has commented that it was the inspiration of the Space missions of the late 60's that helped him choose a career that would ultimately see him commanding the ISS and achieve those childhood dreams.    At Crayons we love to imagine where this generation of children will find their inspirations taking them - whether on earth or in space :-)

While watching Chris Hadfield perform check out the equipment and structures behind him.   Each and every one was designed, developed and made real by a variety of highly creative and imaginative engineers.

P.s. NASA's Spot the Space Station will help young astronauts do just that!   


Engineers Who Build Roads

19 August, 2014 1 comment Leave a comment

Today at Crayons we are celebrating Civil Engineers and all the roads that help us all travel safely!    Civil Engineers are responsible for many aspects of the construction and infrastructure around us but today our focus is on roads and, as there is only so much one can say about roads (unless you're a civil engineer!) we have decided to feature some amazing roads from around the world.    



The road along the Guoliang Cliff Corridor in China is our favourite because of the extraordinary vision it must have taken to commence work.   This road, built in the early 70's, was tunnelled out by villagers to enable easier access to nearby towns.

From the sublime to the extreme: 



This extraordinary clover leaf highway is located in Russia and we can't help observing that it is rush-hour and most folk on the road are either heading to work or heading home!

For young children who like playing with toy cars on fine roads we have the fun Road Collection :-)


Sunday Fun - Spaghetti Cantilevers!

17 August, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Today at Crayons our Sunday Fun is one of the great innovations of Architectural Engineering - Cantilevers!    Cantilevers defy gravity and are used for balconies, bridges and aircraft wings and can be lots of fun for children to play with - they probably already are :-)    A diving board or a plank that barnacled Pirates may have to walk are easy examples of simple cantilevers.

Our Sunday Fun today is all about identifying, experimenting and exploring creativity with cantilevers.      For those staying at home today there is the fun experimental Spaghetti Cantilever to make that only needs tape, scissors and spaghetti to build.    How far can a single spaghetti noodle taped to another, end to end, reach from a table before it touches to the floor?   Would it be stronger and reach further if two pieces are taped together?   Can it go around corners?

Building bricks are another fun way of exploring cantilevers and a cool example of this is Aidan's Balance Cantilever Bridge on youtube which shows a great bridge that is easy to build.    And of course, all bridges, whether they are built of spaghetti or building bricks, enhance a child's imaginative play - are there crocodiles or dinosaurs under the bridge?   Is the bridge leading from one Martian city to another or is it a launch pad for a rocket?   Children that have a serious engineering interest may like to conduct stress tests on their bridge!

For those out and about today why not observe the buildings and structures around you and see if you can spot any cantilevers?    Are there flag poles, balconies or awnings that are cantilevered?   If you are visiting a park why not encourage your child to attempt their own nature based cantilever bridge with twigs and rocks?  (The ants will love it!)   




On the fun side, and whilst not strictly cantilevered,  we love this bridge in Germany painted by the brilliant street artist Megz who has brightened an otherwise dull bridge and created a vibrant Lego bridge through creativity and imagination :-)



On the serious side this building, designed by the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is located on Petra Island in New York and is a great example of a functional residential cantilevered structure.   It would also be easily duplicated, in miniature, in Lego!

At Crayons we have the excellent GEOMAG magnetic construction kits that allow children to design and create all manner of unusual structures that can defy gravity, as well as a great range of LEGO!

Winter Haiku Competition!

17 August, 2014 1 comment Leave a comment

Today at Crayons we are happy to publish an entry in our Winter Haiku Competition!   The competition will run until the last day of Winter :-) so there is still time to dust of your Haiku skills and to encourage your child to attempt this fun combination of Maths and Poetry.

A traditional Japanese Haiku, as neatly summarised by Google, has "seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world".

Our submission today is from Imogen :


"Snowflakes are falling

A beautiful wonderland

Of coldness and snow"


Thanks Imogen!   We would love to receive more entries either on Facebook or by email.  Nice prizes to win!


This beautiful Australian winter wonder land is one of the many beautiful images from Scott Leggo Images :-)



National Science Week!

16 August, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Today at Crayons we are celebrating the start of National Science Week!   The cool thing about National Science Week is that all aspects of Science are celebrated ~ from Astronomy to Zoology and everything in between.   The Ambassador for National Science Week in 2014 is Todd Sampson, a biologist and guru on all things advertising and media and one of our Heros here at Crayons because of his excellent and inspirational TV series "Redesign My Brain".   Science Is Mindblowing :-) and there are lots of events and activities planned for this week so simply go to the link, enter your postcode and prepare for some fun science!

For those unable to attend events there are some great National Science Week links courtesy of the ABC's Splash sites for both Primary and Secondary students and they are chockers with a variety of interesting topics about the different fields of science. 




All children have a natural curiosity about something scientific, be it bugs & spiders, crystals and rocks, flowers and butterflies or the large creatures of the land and sea.    Encouraging and supporting a child's interest in their particular passion is a wonderful thing to do and that is something we are passionate about at Crayons.   As children grow older their natural curiosity can turn into careers of great interest and achievement :-)

Happy National Science Week Australia!

Engineering Chocolate!

15 August, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Today at Crayons we are delighted to have discovered the cool EngineerGirl site by the National Academy of Engineering in the USA.   This great site has lots of interesting articles to inspire girls towards engineering and we  love their innovative Try On A Career page; but today our vote goes to their article on the engineering behind Chocolate :-)



Ever wondered how they get the bubbles in a chocolate bar?  Engineering, that's how.   There are some great quirky facts relating to chocolate at the bottom of the previous link - who new that the crispiness of a Kit Kat is based on decades of research for an edible version of an airplane wing - strong but light!

Science and engineering careers have for too long seen to be dry and fusty and not much fun.   The fun is in the imagining and the creating and having the ability to bring these discoveries and ideas to life.  It is good to help children be inspired and that is why Crayons has our Cool Maths and Science For Kids Collections to help them become familiar with concepts and understand that these subjects can lead to lots of fun things and some great adventures around the world!

Aussie Scientists Create A Tractor Beam!

14 August, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Today at Crayons we are excited to discover that Australian scientists have created the world's first water Tractor Beam!   The physicists at the Australian National University have developed a way of introducing a series of wave patterns onto the surface of water that will ultimately draw a free floating object towards the source of the wave patterns.   The potential uses for this are vast and beneficial, possibly helping to reduce oil spills and to reduce the amount of flotsam and jetsam polluting the water ways of the world.

Tractor Beams have long been the stuff of science fiction and a variation was first mentioned in the visionary 1931 novel "Spacehounds of the IPC" by Edward E. Smith, Ph.D..  At Crayons we love how things that were imagined years ago become reality :-)

In time a mechanism may be built on a large enough scale that it can create the same Tractor Beam wave patterns on an ocean's surface, helping to reduce pollution and improve safety.  Only problem is how will they generate a wave pattern without interference from the generator?   That is when the engineers will be called in!



So, at bath time tonight, if there is time, why not see if you can make a wave pattern that draws a rubber duck to the source :-)

Engineering Fully Loaded!

13 August, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Today at Crayons we are gobsmacked at the cool video on the home page of Engineering Fully Loaded!   This excellent site is an initiative of the Institute of Public Works Engineers Australia and it is seriously good :-)    There's lots of information, a Starting in School page and the site is simply a great introduction to engineering careers and opportunities.



At Crayons we have always been excited at the prospect of this generation's potential given today's opportunities for creativity combined with innate imagination.   To quote from this great website - The future isn't what it used to be!

P.s Check out our Train Collection for a range of inspirational train themed activities and toys.

Robots And Books? Bookbots!

12 August, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Today at Crayons we are smiling at the thought of robots assisting the library staff at Sydney's University of Technology!   Like something from a scifi movie about the future :-) this enormous underground bunker is manned by robots that function in a safe storage facility for research books.   Robots and Books?   Bookbots!



Whilst underground Library storage is common in European countries the books are accessed manually and both time and space is lost to access corridors.    The image above, from the Hunt Library in the US, reveals the mechanics behind Bookbots similar to those used at UTS.   We love how the Bookbot has lights to brighten what would otherwise be a dark facility.

Inspired and curious teenage engineers would love experimenting with the excellent IQ.Key robotics kits and our Robot Collection always has something for all ages.

A tremendous amount of thought and imagination has gone into this construction and many aspects had to be considered.    At UTS the books accessed using the Bookbots are individually located by radio frequencies and are stored in stable galvanised steel boxes; ultimately they are delivered to Library staff on demand.   Another wonderfully practical engineering feature of this storage library is the moat that surrounds the library to prevent deluge during rainstorms :-) 

Books, Robots and Moats?   Oh frabjous day!

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