◆What Kind of Better Future Could Bearings Create?
The moment the NSK team handed out bearings, the children took them out of the bags and started touching them. As they touched and spun the bearings, you could hear "these bearings are like a fidget spinner."
They set the bearings in the Kit 1s that they had made and once again experienced the mysterious force. Asked for their impressions, the children explained their experience of the mysterious force in their own words: "It feel like it's going to the outside." "It's like it's being pulled down."
The children not only made and experienced the kits; they also had to put what they felt into words. As they put their thoughts and feelings into words, they realized that each person's experience is different, even though all were observing the same phenomenon.
Now, the staff members asked the children one more thing: "Think about the better future that bearings could create!" What kind of future did the children imagine in response to this challenging question?
Little hands went up immediately. There were a range of proposals: "Put bearings on the bottom of plates so that when you do plate-spinning they will spin even better." "Put bearings into the classroom floor so that we can run away quickly when the teacher comes."
The children were filled with all kinds of dreams. One child even said, "Bearings could be used in power plants to make lots of electricity with less fuel."
When the NSK instructor mentioned that bearings are already used in power stations, the student had a response, "But if you improve the performance of the bearings, it still might be possible to make more electricity with less power."
The workshop came to a close with the children and teachers dreaming together about the future. After the workshop was over, the children had a chance to see and touch real bearings made by NSK. They picked up bearings of various sizes and tried spinning them. Their curiosity about bearings is only just beginning.
NSK provides opportunities across Japan for children to have meaningful experiences at workshops for learning about rotation, friction, and the power of bearings by assembling kits themselves, putting their experience into words, and sharing that with everyone.