August 05, 2016

A World Of Play

Primary school education packs in a lot of essential learning about how the world works, much of it textbook rather than hands-on. And yet we know from experience that we learn best when we can step into the real world and try it for ourselves, rather than try to work it out in our own heads or on paper. 

Teachers meanwhile are under-resourced when it comes to making classes practical rather than theoretical. As a result, many of us emerge from primary school with only the vaguest idea of how the world works, and typically unable to relate our textbook learning to the practical challenges we face everyday.

Do It Yourself

Primary school teacher, Colm Ó hAnluain, our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business, always liked to make his classrooms lively and stimulating. However, he struggled to find the teaching aids he needed to bring maths, physics and technical literacy to life. And so he decided to design and build his own.

Through his new enterprise, Cog & Axle, Colm offers Henry's Piano, a construction model (or Lévó) and storybook, featuring Henry and the practical challenges he faces when trying to move a piano (a big cumbersome object that children can readily relate to). Henry's Piano can be used by teachers right through primary school (whilst teachers in other parts of Europe are using it for some of their secondary school classes).

Leveraging The Power Of Gaming

Our host, Simon Delaney, and I were both delighted with Colm's invention. Simon, the father of four young boys, immediately saw the benefits for his budding engineers. 

Meanwhile, I was prompted to describe what Colm has devised as a game rather than a resource (which can have rather dry and worthy connotations). Henry's Piano is so beautifully crafted that it immediately invites the child in us to pick it up and start playing with it, so Colm might usefully explore some of this more immediate language that conveys the appeal of his invention.

Your Turn!

How do you suggest that Colm get more and more of tomorrow's engineers playing Henry's Piano?

Listen back to Colm on Kickstart Your Business and let us know what you think.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on


Colm Ó hAnluain said...

Hi Gerard
Thanks for all the great insights. I will look into developing the game/fun aspect. It is always a challenge finding the right balancing between a game/toy and a serious didactic teaching resource for professional teachers. I'll keep you up to date on how it's developing.

Colm Ó hANLUAIN said...

Thanks for all your insights! I will look into developing the game/fun aspect of Henry's Piano. Trying to find the right balance between toy/game and didactic teaching resource that still appeals to teachers is the challenge. I'll keep you up to date with how it's going.