After seeing an art exhibition of Mecanno set constructions, I have devised a 21st Century version : FREECANNO an open-sourced educational toy made with found stuff.
The kit includes a variety of plastic, wood, & metal construction components with holes drilled in them, as well as some hardware for joining pieces together - nuts & bolts, screws, & nails.
Further holes can be drilled & pieces can otherwise be adapted to suit - tools will have to be obtained separately.
As Picasso said: “Computers are stupid- they only give you answers”.
The Freecanno concept is designed to both stimulate the imagination & to instigate processes of enquiry:
“What can I make?.. how can I make it?.. how can I join these together?.. how can I cut/drill/whatever this?.. what do I need to make......?”
As the Freecanno system is open-sourced, there are not more bigger, more expensive, sets to buy. Instead, users are encouraged to expand their kit by finding & making further pieces for themselves. A wide variety of everyday materials can be adapted for use - simply by cutting stuff into pieces & drilling holes. Existing toys can be used for parts, & modular sets [such as Leggo] fit into the Frecanno system perfectly.
Further useful pieces can be obtained by taking things apart - one problem with electrical gadgets is that they are not easily nor mechanically repairable...which means that when a fuse or something goes, they end up in the trash. The skills of do-it-yourself repairs are almost history.
In my teaching of craft skills to people of all ages I have found that they often cannot use even basic tools – this system will encourage the use of tools including: screwdrivers, wrenches, drills, saws, hammers, wire-cutters, pliers, files, & scissors.
A main aspect of the use of Freecanno is to foster the interaction of children with adults - caregivers may be able to assist with the use of tools & with basic design & construction principles; otherwise the assistance of other more mechanically-minded folks may be needed. Either way family- & social-interaction are facilitated.