Remote Controlled Cars & Mechanical Literacy

Literacy & Numeracy

By Samantha Patrick – Founder CEO

If I were to buy myself a remote controlled car, it would end up costing me a fortune. I have no expertise in mechanics and the first time I crash it and it breaks, it would cost me to have someone fix it. It would make sense that racing the car is only one aspect of this sport and mechanics is another. What an excellent opportunity for a young person to engage in this type of activity and at the same time be developing a very useful skill that could even turn into a career choice later on in life.

We are beginning to see a lot of young people wanting to become professional gamers or famous YouTubers. It makes sense. That is what they know and have been exposed to for a long time. They have become very good at what they do and will spend hours practicing the skill.

I have observed that what someone is exposed to in their early years of life is often the career choice they will desire to pursue when they leave school. Kids growing up on farms will generally become a farmer. Kids enrolled in cadets will generally pursue a career in the armed forces. Kids who help their parents run their restaurant will often stay in that industry beyond high school. They are entering these industries after high school with valuable skills because they have already spent years developing them. They are employable!

With today’s technology, if the settings are right on your phone, you will begin to have content popping up on your social media and internet feeds related to your topics of conversation. In my talk about remote controlled cars and the mechanics industry, I came across a very interesting video for how combustion engines work. What an excellent opportunity for young people to participate in a sport in which they can learn about science in action if they are encouraged to move beyond the race and into the pit stop alongside a knowledgeable mechanic who knows the science.

‘Car engine chemistry – with Andrew Szydlo’

The interesting video I saw on the chemistry behind engines.

As young people begin using subject-specific language, they may experience what I have experienced, where new content is presented before them. They may then realise that they have a new topic of conversation amongst their peers. If they were previously talking only about gaming, now they have expanded their repertoire of topics. Literacy is not just about devising ideas for communicating in written form, it is also very much about devising ideas for speaking. This is a very important skill if we want to actively participate in an intellectual conversation. Young people who first pursue this sport may not be able to participate in a conversation about mechanics, but with time, active participation in the sport and education, they will begin using language that only those in the sport or the industry of mechanics will understand. They will have become mechanically literate.

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It is very common for young people to reach the end of high school and not know what career they want to pursue. Why not expose young people to a variety of careers before they reach that stage in their life? Exposure makes a difference. Skill development should begin before they graduate from high school so that, by the time they finish school, they already have the skills they need to be successful in the career they choose. How can a young person know what career they want to pursue when they haven’t had much variety of experiences early on in life? They are reaching the end of high school having to start developing a skill from scratch. Why not begin that process sooner?

Remote control car racing is a fun and dynamic sport for young people to pursue. Who knows, maybe they’ll enjoy mechanics and choose that career later in life. We all need a mechanic.

Photos: Toowoomba Show Grounds, May 2023

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