Pin of the Week #2: Nigerian teenager’s hydraulic toys

We plan to bring you regular highlights from our Pinterest boards, which are kept active by a team of ‘virtual volunteers’ in the USA and Ghana. We have our partners Friends of Mmofra to thank for recruiting and managing student ‘pinners’ on our behalf!

Source: Uploaded by user via Mmofra on Pinterest

 Pinned to: Galimoto! Self-Made Toys

Our Galimoto! wall is dedicated to homemade toys from Africa. This has to be the most high-tech one we’ve ‘pinned’ yet.

The picture shows 15-year-old Nigerian teenager Odo Gerald with his range of self-built diggers, bulldozers and dumper trucks. But these aren’t just push-toys. Thanks to a sophisticated system of pipes and syringes, these miniature machines really work.

Odo was exhibiting his creations at Maker Faire Africa, an invention and handicraft showcase that came to Lagos in 2012. They caught the eye of African tech writer Erik Hersman, who featured them on the Maker Faire blog:

“Odo has 4 toys he’s made over the last 4 months. They’re made of painted plywood, syringes, wooden pieces, wire, water and small tubes along with a motorcycle battery to run it all. His next big project is to make a small helicopter that he can get off the ground.”

Check out Hersman’s video to see them in action:

Creative play builds real skills

As the Galimoto! gallery shows, ‘play’ is not just a break from the serious business of ‘work’. It can promote ingenuity, experimentation and independent learning.

Who knows where those habits could take you? Check out our post from last year about a 15-year-old radio whizz from Sierra Leone. You might also remember the three Nigerian girls featured in the same post, who designed a urine-powered generator (also exhibited at Maker Faire in Lagos).

Closer to home there is Mmofra Math, a math-focused computer game designed by Accra teenager Leovi Nutakor and tested by kids from our own Language Club.

Boys’ toys?

Part of Mmofra’s mission is to encourage and provide opportunities for creative play. So while we love to see examples of it, we are also interested in challenges to it. Try taking another look at our Galimoto! gallery with these questions in mind:

  • Where are the girls?
    You’ll find some, but they are under-represented. Why? Do they play less? Do they make fewer toys? Or are boys just better at getting in front of the camera?
  • Where are the middle-class children?
    As incomes rise, will hands-on toy-making be replaced with ready-made products? What effect could that have on children’s creativity?
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