In my post Engineering with RC Cars, I wrote about how we taught our son about being an engineer by investigating and upgrading his remote control car. Along with upgrading the equipment, we also taught him about reliability engineering.
Teach Kids about Reliability Engineering!
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Reliability engineers are at every factory. They are in charge of making sure machinery runs the maximum amount of time, and never breaks unexpectedly. They look for equipment that breaks frequently, and replace it with more robust equipment. This saves money by lowering the amount of parts a factory must buy due to parts breaking. More robust equipment also lowers the amount of time the factory is not running because of something being broke. In a factory, every time equipment is not running, product is not being made, which is lost sales.
When replacing the bushing with a bearing, one thing we talked about with him was that the bearing was the less expensive option.
To help him understand this, we had him ask the store cashier for the price of both the bearing and the bushing.
Bushing cost: $3
Bearing cost: $16
Once he had the costs, he thought we were wrong. The bushing was cheaper than the bearing!
Husband: “How long did the bushing last?”
Son: “About a day.”
Husband: “Lets see how long these bearings last. We’ll play with our cars everyday this week after I get home from work, and Saturday too!”
So everyday after dinner, my son and husband would head outside to play with their RC cars. Saturday, they headed to the inside track at the RC car store, and raced the cars all morning long. Once they were headed home, my husband had a conversation on the way home.
Husband: Hey son! I want you to notice something!
Son: What’s that?
Husband: What was the life cycle of the bearings? How long have the bearings lasted so far?
Son: All week. 7 days, I guess.
Husband: Uh hu. And what was the life cycle of the bushings? How long did they last?
Son: One day.
Husband: Right! So if we had played with our cars every day this week, and the bushing had only lasted a day like they did before, then we would of had to buy 7 bushings. Any idea how much that would have cost?
Son: No. (he’s only starting first grade people)
Son: $21! Wow! That’s a lot!
Husband: Yep! And how much was the bearing?
Husband: And its still working! So which one ended up being cheaper?
Son (with a smile on his face): The bearing.
And that’s how we’re teaching our son about reliability engineering!
If you’re interested in starting a remote control car hobby, here’s what my son is playing and learning with!
Traxxas LaTrax SST Truck
You can also find many replacement parts on line!
Need more ideas on how to teach your kids about engineers and engineering? Check out some of my other posts!
Tinker Crate: Circuits and Optics
Teach Your Kid to be a Mechanical Engineer!
Be a Process Engineer: Play “How’s it Made?”
Learn about Forces at the Splash Park!
Exploring Energy: How are Height and Distance Related?
An Explosive View of a Dinosaur
10 Books that Inspire Kids to be Engineers
Toys that Teach EngineeringTeach Your Kid to be a Project Engineer!
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What an awesome lesson – as usual!! 🙂 Does your son ever watch Blaze and the Monster Machines? It has a lot of engineering and my little guy picks it up. (He’s 5 and starting Kindergarten.) I was so proud when he came to me with a yard stick the other day and asked for a triangular piece of wood so he could make a lever and pick up heavy things. 🙂 Pretty sure he learned this on Blaze.
Thanks Amy! My son sometimes watches Blaze. We don’t have cable, so he watches whatever we kind find on Netflix. I love it when my kid picks up technical things from a show! Just the other day we were watching an episode of Story Bots, and they were talking about lift. Exciting stuff for an engineer mom. 🙂
This is awesome! Never too early to have them start learning 🙂
I agree! And I sometimes like to sneak it in. 😉
Awesome post! Thank you for sharing!
This is a fun and great way to learn! I’m sure that my husband would love to do something like this with our sons when they get older because he is an Engineer also.
Thanks! It’s a great way to “sneak” in a lesson.
I love this SO MUCH! I’m also an engineer turned stay at home mother. 🙂
Thank you! I’m so excited to connect with another fellow engineer to sahm!
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