The gear toy is basically a peg board and a set of gears of different sizes. What is great about this toy is that it introduces an aspect of mechanics that is intuitive and easy to understand. The gear toy is a self-contained experimentation state where the, uh, ‘child’, is free to explore and learn how and why energy is transferred between gears of different sizes that are properly placed.
A Gear of Great Price
Perhaps owing to their high educational value, gear toys are not easy to find. When you do find them, they are generally made of plastic, which is not the worst thing in the world, but also may not be the best.
The Beauty of Wood
We have previously mentioned the intimate dimension that wood brings to the childhood play space. Symbolically, we associate wood more closely with nature because trees grow above ground in the same biosphere that we share. In contrast, plastic is derived from petroleum, which comes from underground, is is not apart of our ordinary experience with nature. Similarly, metal comes from ores that are generally found deep underground, and as such are not apart of our ordinary experience with nature.
Hands On Learning
The wooden version of the gear toy not only offers the intuitive and easy to understand experimentation space, but also has a tactile quality that cannot be matched by plastic. Provided that they are well sanded and finished, and made of hard woods and/or high-quality plywood, the touch and feel of the wooden gears is a pleasure in-and-of-itself. There is also a discrete and pleasant sound that adds a dimension to playing with gears that is hard to find in other toys.