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    New Directions in Modelling

    An investigation of personalities, opinion, and technology in the modelling world as we know it, and as it may become.

Kevin Taylor
is an occasional editorial contributor to the IPMS website. Originally from
St. Thomas, Ontario, he now is a resident of Bancroft. With 15 years experience in graphic
arts and web site design, and ownership of the advertising agency Infinity Imaging , he brings
a contemporary viewpoint to these pages. His experience extends to working with groups,
such as the Algonquin Arts Council, where he was President for five years, plus serving on
many arts committees. He is an experienced writer, being a weekly arts columnist for a local
newspaper for 2 years, and weekly music columnist for another 2 years.

He enjoys military modelling, of which he claims to be both an avid enthusiast and an addict.

Scale Modelling for Kids is More Than Just Fun!

by Kevin Taylor
October, 2011

Many modellers are in their latter half of their life, which seems a little strange, since most of

these same people started the hobby as children. Over the years, the hobby seems to have

moved away from being a pastime for kids and into therapy for older folks.

The industry as a whole seems to be geared toward adults and many of us say things like “it

would be nice to have more children involved”. This makes sense, as where will the next

generation of adult modellers come from if they don't start as kids?

In giving this some thought, and a little research, it seems that modelling has more to offer

children then just a hobby or fun. Yes it is fun, but there are some benefits that we probably

don't think about much, and should consider when trying to encourage youth to join the

hobby. Some of the benefits:

Developing Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing,

grasping small objects, and fastening clothing. They involve strength, fine motor control, and

dexterity. These are skills that are often overlooked in a child's earlier years, which can lead

to issues as they grow.

Building models at an early age can exercise these skills in ways that very few other toys and

games can.

Building Confidence

When confronted with a challenge such as looking at a set of instructions and building

something from them, many children will approach the task with trepidation and feel they can't

do it. In fact, as modellers we know that it 'can be done', and children won't find that out for

themselves until they try.

Of course they can succeed, especially with a little help from an adult, and this in turn builds

confidence. Children learn that when confronted with a task of this kind, they can indeed

make something that looks like it does on the box. This can be a boost of confidence for

anyone at any age.

Enhance Creativity

Yes, model building and painting is an art form. How many toys and computer games actually

enhance creativity? Not many, aside from colouring and the occasional craft in school.

Creating a piece of art (even if it does come with instructions) is something that many children

don't get to do at home on a regular basis.

This is an area that has been identified as being weak in the schools as arts programs

continually get cut back. Building models can keep a young mind thinking and creating.

Teaching Patience

In today's society, we want everything now. Instant gratification is the flavour of the century.

That being said, we know as modellers that there is nothing instant about our hobby. Wait for

glue to dry, paint to dry, taking our time to ensure we don't miss any details. Being patient is

almost non-existent for many children, and modelling might just be a way to instill a little

patience in our rushed world.

Following Directions

Almost all children seem to be wizards at computers and video games, but if you ever watch

them, you'll notice that most of them don't read instructions on the screen. They simply try

things until they do or don't work. The instructions are a burden as they take time to read.

This may be fine in a game where you can die a thousand times while learning the ins and

outs, but won't be of much value when building a model.

Ignoring instructions when building a model can be and usually is disastrous. Following

instructions for a model can be very challenging, even to a seasoned builder. It really is

similar to following blueprints (in another language), which can only benefit a child for years to

come in many areas of their lives.

Engineering, Mechanics, Robotics and Physics

As model builders, we don't think of how we are affected by these areas, but we deal with

them on a regular basis. Understanding of how things work, move, propell, and so on, is all

part of what we do as builders.

For a child, these are areas that they won't engage themselves in until their teens. Even then

they may learn of these sciences, but may not be able to apply them to something. Where

will the great engineers of our future come from, and how will they get interested in the first

place? Maybe building models is a place to start.

History

This is a passion for many modellers, myself included. It seems that it is fine for a child to

build a model of a car, boat or spaceship, but many hobby shops, parents and teachers omit

the historical value of military modelling. This is our history, which includes war. I have

learned more about history through modelling than I ever would have in school.

Children need to look at the past, how we got where we are today, what sacrifices were

made, battles fought, etc. Often military modelling is avoided as people assume it promotes

violence. Most military models are non-violent. Even in my collection, I can see that most of

my models don't include death or killing. As military modellers, we are recreating a moment in

time. Usually very important moments in the history of the world. It is for this reason that I

encourage all modellers to promote the art of historical modelling to kids.

Safety

Finally, safety is required when building and painting models. Children learn how to use tools

(many of them sharp), work with solvents and glues, etc. They will also learn the importance

of working in a safe environment with ventilation, masks and gloves.

Some of these safety tips and skills will last throughout their lives in jobs, hobbies, and so on.

Conclusion

I would very much like to encourage adult modellers to introduce a young person you know to

the variety of great things that come from building and painting models. Maybe consider

buying a child their 'first kit' with some supplies. Who knows.... they may get the 'bug' that

we've happily caught years ago.

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