✮✮✮ "Plays with Trains" ✮✮✮

Posted just today on my Facebook Profile:

“Playing” with trains (plus my Father’s guidance) gave me the basics for all the Engineering knowledge I possess today. (starting circa 1954-55) Then my modeling of those trains put me on a graphic arts and photography career path that has spanned 60+ years while buying a house, raising a family and traveling ALL over America, plus one trip to Europe as a Trade Show Exhibits Designer and Event Coordinator for a Fortune 500 Company.
(You would be surprised how much scale modeling (structures) and exhibit design have in common!)

I have considered commissioning a dark, wicked, evil looking T-shirt graphic that states “I don’t PLAY with trains!” Perhaps adding “I LEARN from them!”

My 'playing" with trains (and scale models in general) was a vocational course of the highest order; teaching me mechanical & world history, engineering, art, design, machining, woodworking and spacial exposition. Further, it has literally paid for my entire life and the lives of my family.

Zero % Brag, 100% Fact!

Plus as Kirk said “it’s been fun!”
Photo credit: Carey Samuels - “Tin Sign for the Man Cave”

I would strongly suggest that you NEVER hesitate to encourage your young ones to play with blocks, model trains, lego, erector sets, etc.


I even have a very clear memory of building highway & railroad bridges during “block time” in Kindergarten.


Especially in this day and age of instant digital gratification or whatever you want to call it. I see parents giving their toddlers screen devices to distract - or educate? - whatever. Seems so wrong to me but what do I know. Kids didn’t happen for us.

And NO, it’s not lost on me that I am typing this from a small digital device. But I’ll be 60 in June, so I’m allowed :crazy_face:


Digital “toys/distractions” fail to train (no pun intended) people in real world spacial relationships. Even Legos has an all digital, screen version but again this fails to give the young ones tactile and spacial experience. Without it, it becomes harder to understand visual perspective and to understand complex shapes.

Many of this day and age will disagree with me but I think it is wise to foster both types of visual learning; real world AND digital.

The ones most likely to disagree may be those now accomplished in digital CAD design. But I suspect these individuals were already well ahead of the curve in their “visual perception” before they ever discovered CAD. (And that is what I will refer to as innate talent.)

I do believe that starting with actual, tactile learning, as you mention, is essential to a well-grounded and balanced way of learning, as a foundation for expanded understanding. Of course we are already seeing game-playing kids piloting UAVs.


1 Like

As a dedicated CAD designer I endorse fully your belief that there’s just no substitute for experience of real-world physical objects! CAD allows easy creation, but it relies on the knowledge and experience already built up by playing with physical things. Play on!

1 Like


Similar to my remarks regarding “hands-on spacial experiences;”

Todays turn-by-turn GPS guidance really means that without it people today are totally lost!
By the way my remarks here are based on working 10 years in the GPS mapping and survey industries.

When I give my sons driving directions it never works. They don’t know the city nor the basic road layout. They rely too heavily on the frigg’n GPS!

I gave my niece and her friend some basic driving directions over the phone (She is retired Air Force and her friend is the CEO of a cutting edge medical company.) Told them 4 times to turn LEFT (South) out of the parking lot and that they were already then on the road they needed to be on.
Of course the GPS disagreed with me so they blindly turned right (North) and ended up well off the road they started on. Later they called to ask “where was I?” as they had arrived. Problem was there was more than one location of that same restaurant in my town and the GPS had sent them to the wrong one! They ended up FAR to the north side of the city while I was happily sipping a Bourbon (Woodford by the way) on the SOUTH side of town the entire time.

Thank goodness there is no major body of water near my city or they might have ended up driving into that!


I worked on a site that was reachable by two roads - a windy country lane that was easy to see on a map, and another road that started well before crossing a farmyard, becoming very winding, and then crossing a scary river ford. Guess which route all the pratt-nav followers took? :rofl:


Copy that. My kid literally can’t find her way from the house to the grocery store or anywhere without her GPS. It is exasperating!

Mike, I completely concur that kids need to play with objects. Even digital careers need some background with hand-eye coordination; I’ve read about so many digital failures because the CAD designers could not - even with grids and scaling - envision how their computer creations would look in physical form.