By Maria Parenti
Author and engineer Andrew King encouraged his young year 1 and 2 audience to dream, draw, design and create. King said engineers liked to draw and design because they were like big kids. He encouraged students to think and imagine. To build planes, bridges, buildings, cars and playgrounds using cardboard boxes. To get outside, get dirty and see what the environment was like. Before publishing ‘Engibear Builds A Playground’, King and his son drew the bear characters, plus a playground at home. Then they talked about it and combined it altogether to write a fun story. In Engibear’s Bridge, students ‘oohed and aahed’ when they saw the ‘conceptual design’ using the ‘long-neck dinosaur sideview’ to ‘Ben’s Bridge drawings’ and the ‘final engineering design (CAD)’ stage.
King said a child’s mind could travel ‘to infinity and beyond’ when using their imagination. When travel brochures promoted ‘escaping’ on holidays by driving, riding in a train etc.,. so too could our imagination travel to the beach or fairytale castle without going there. He showed students a slide of his son’s writing and drawing in year 2. He said although his writing was early-stage, his son’s brain was already doing amazing things because he could ‘think’. Pointing to the students, he said, ’Your brains can also do amazing things by thinking.’ When working on the development of Ben’s character there was a lot of thinking of design ideas until they had working models.
Students were excited when they created their own drawing for types of train ideas. They drew Sushi trains, lolly trains, monsters on trains, balloon trains etc.,
King Engibear books encouraged students to explore the world of engineers. ‘If you can draw it, then you can build it.’ Like a Minecraft city or the city of Munnagong in the Engibear series. Or the engineering feats in Englina’s Train of the Maglev Train with its magnetic levitation. One day you’ll be able to travel from Ipswich to the Gold Coast in about 8-12 minutes, instead of 1 1/2 hours. King said of dreaming, drawing, designing and creating, ‘You’ve got to be willing to try. Never give up. Try, try again.’