I have spent a good portion of the last few months with a small group of boys between the ages of eight and ten. We've been involved with a program called Destination Imagination. I lovingly call it competitive problem solving.
The kids are given a choice of challenges, for which they are to do all of the work, from the idea stage through the implementation stage. The challenges are extraordinarily open ended, and there is no right or wrong answers, only points for creativity.
So once the kids had decided what their challenge was going to be, I purchased and assembled a large assortment of products that I thought they might use. They had drawn a prototype of what they wanted, so I was able to purchase things that were in line with their imaginations. This challenge involved building two machines that had to travel, so wheels, wood, screws, nuts, bolts, hooks, eyes, magnets, sticks, paint, glue and at the last minute, I threw in some duct tape.
We drilled, we screwed, we assembled, we painted, we glued, we velcroed. No matter what, when one of the other methods of assembly failed, these boys went straight for the duct tape. Sometimes the staple gun, sometimes both, but usually the duct tape.
The props didn't stand up? Duct tape 'em. The magnets won't stay on? Duct tape 'em. The wheels fell off? Duct tape 'em. The axle broke on one of the vehicles? Duct tape.
Their go-to item in the large tub they were given, as well as my garage full of stuff, was always the duct tape. Which begs the question, was it born into them? Is this the way that boys are wired? Or should I just not have put the duct tape in the tub in the first place? I suppose we'll never know, but I do know that I'm creating a new generation of people who think that duct tape can solve anything.
And, for the record? Duct taping the axle on a car designed to hold two boys doesn't work. Neither did the velcro work for anything involving that many preteen boys. And power tools make all boys smile, no matter the age.