Friday, September 20, 2013

Crazy about cars!

R's latest fetish is cars- all kinds of cars, how they are made, the different models, their history, details about each one - for example, how the brake lights look, the symbols, the shape of the body, and many other details like maximum speeds, etc.

A few days ago, he asked me to suggest something that he could do (from his toy collection), which he hadn't done for a long time. I suggested that he take out his car collection and look at what he had. He jumped up and dashed off! 

Soon, he was all smiles, picking out each little car from the box, inspecting and naming it....and then placing them in little groups according to the companies that made them. He discovered that many of the cars that he has raced with in his latest iPad app Real Racing Challenge - like the Lamborghini, Dodge, Mercedes Benz, Fiat, and even the prized Koenigsegg, were there amongst many toy cars that he owned since he was 2 or 3 years old! Some of them had the symbols of the companies, while for the others, he just gave names depending on how close to the original they looked :)

Then he wanted me to help him make placards for each car that he chose. He Googled the symbol, printed each one out, wrote out the names himself, cut each one out patiently, stuck them on the cardboard and placed them alongside each car. His car showroom took shape slowly in the corridor, as he waited for his father to come home and see his surprise!

We recently bought him a remote controlled Lamborghini car (his dream car!) and now he spends a good part of the day playing with it, talking about it, and admiring it. He even wipes off the dust with his towel (something you would rarely see him do) sometimes! When he gets a little bored playing with it in the same way, he asks me to think up challenges for his car to do. Soon he is busy maneuvering the long, unwieldy car through obstacles (old wooden blocks lined up), making figures of eight, turning it 180 degrees within a narrow stretch of space (that he pretends is the road), without going off the road, reverses all the way around a table from start to finish, accelerates full speed and brings the car to a halt just  before the finish line and many more. Many of these were things that I did while I was learning how to drive a car, many many years ago! I was amazed at the elan and dexterity with which he managed to complete all these challenges.

He also has an astounding memory for some of the facts and figures to do with these cars, that are mentioned in his iPad app. For a kid who keeps saying that he has a 'forgetful mind' most times, this is simply amazing! He will rattle off performance ratings, maximum speeds, time taken to accelerate to 60mph, model number and name etc. from memory, while I am washing dishes or cooking in the kitchen. He will then quiz me on those and rejoice in my goof ups :) He will get me to list out all the cars that he owns after having cleared some levels in the game; or he would ask me to choose a car to race with for him to clear the next level and go ahead.

During the course of one of these conversations, he told me how much a car's speed (in miles per hour) would be in kilometres per hour! He had worked that out based on some comparison that was there for one of the cars, in the app. He then kept asking me questions like how long a car would take to travel a particular distance, given its speed....or how much distance it would cover in a given time, if its speed was a certain number...what was amazing was that he would look at it from so many points of view and permutations at one shot, not waiting to finish and completely understand one, before moving to the other. It was as if each point of view of the problem was helping him in its own unique way to arrive at some understanding of it. Fascinating!

The next thing that he wanted to do was to measure the speed of his new Lamborghini Aventador - remote controlled car and then compare its speed to that of a hand-driven Mercedes Benz Unimog U400 (a huge LEGO model with motor et al) that he had recently built. It was a perfect setting for an experiment and an opportunity to find out what speed is and how it is measured. He set up the experiment, deciding on the start and end-point, how to measure distance and time, organised everything, gave directions to me as to what was my role, and even arrived at an approximate speed, with a bit of help, with all calculations done mentally!

You can see a video that we took (of ourselves doing the experiment together) of it here:

His craze for cars has driven him to explore other paths too on his own. He has watched many videos on Youtube on how many of the top cars are manufactured, found out about their history, and he now also has another app that plays the different engine sounds of the different cars! So he is busy straining his ears to listen and tune in to those special sounds :)

I had not in the wildest of dreams thought that his passion for cars would get him to travel to all these places in such a short time! Uncharted territories are always fun, exciting and mysterious :)

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