When I was a teenager, I went through a model rocketry phase. I spent a lot of paper route money on Estes kits, engines and paint. Model rocketry is a great hobby for a nerdy kid. This peaked out for me around 14 years old. Then that was it. I never touched another one. Other people, I suppose, continue with the hobby into adulthood. I’ve read that with the right permits, you can build some amazing stuff. However, none of it is ever going to launch a satellite. That’s why it stopped being satisfying to me. It wasn’t an end in itself. It just became a fancy way to burn money and time.
Robotics is somewhat similar, at least as it stands today. I’m still very intrigued by Robots and I read Robot Magazine. However, the kits that you can buy (and some of them are expensive) give you what amounts to an expensive toy. You can buy completed robots that will do things like clean your carpets and I’ve recounted my experiences with the Scooba here before. Robots that help you with your day have huge value. I lose interest in dancing robots that don’t do much else pretty quickly. Again, as a hobby, robotics is unsatisfying because the robots you build don’t do anything meaningful.
So am I ready to turn in my geek card? Not at all! I’m still a computer freak. But I can justify that interest. Computers do stuff. In fact, I use computers constantly. A computer is more important to me than my car. (Although my car is part computer and part robot).
Another geeky hobby that doesn’t quite fit the mold here is Lego. I build Lego projects with my kids. They enjoy it and I don’t mind it so much either. But you might chide me and say: “Well, the Lego dragon you’re building doesn’t do anything productive either!” It does sound like I’m being inconsistent. I think it helps show kids how to focus though and when you’re done, you’ve got a toy you can play with or take apart and build something else with. Also, compared to rocketry and robots, Lego is cheap. I dunno. I guess I’m still working this out in my head. You know Lego has a robot kit…