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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Scrappy Robots is a YouTube series featuring 20-something builder/engineer Simone Giertz, who makes amusing machines that perform absurd tasks like automatically feeding the wearer popcorn. Her short videos demonstrate what she's made; in the description of each are links to longer videos (with ads) that demonstrate more thoroughly how the machines are built, which may inspire young makers. Giertz thoroughly enjoys making and showing off her creations, which sends a terrific, encouraging message to young people who may be considering STEM careers (or whose parents may wish to inspire such dreams). There are no iffy messages, or violence, but some videos do contain swearing, including "s--t," or "freaking" in places where others might use a different "F" word: "I feel freaking awesome." Parents' main concern might be that Giertz's videos appear on a commercial stream (for toy/app maker GoldieBlox); a hashtag directing viewers to more information about the "Goldiesquad" may contain more direct or indirect information about GoldieBlox's products. Links to GoldieBlox also appear in the information beneath each video.
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What's the story?
Back in 2015, young inventor Simone Giertz's internet breakthrough was the Wake-Up Machine, a rubber hand that she wired to an alarm clock to slap sleepers awake. The resulting furor led toy/app maker GoldieBlox to hire Giertz for its YouTube channel, where every week Giertz hosts short "here's what I made!" videos known as SCRAPPY ROBOTS. Giertz is the first to admit that the wacky machines she builds (to perform tasks like giving manicures or feeding her cereal) don't actually work that well. But the point isn't to make perfect machines -- the point is to build something funny and amuse both herself and her audience.
Is it any good?
Gleeful, goofy, and lots of fun, this show about impractical-but-hilarious homemade machines may awaken the tinkering spirit in viewers -- or they may just find it funny. Giertz's absurd inventions are fun to watch, for adults and for kids. They frequently use amusing props, like the rubber hands that "wash" (some would say "slap") hair automatically in the shower, or perform ridiculous tasks, like giving manicures for lazy people. "I'm the queen of scrappy robots. I build things that don't really work but they're kinda fun," says Giertz in one video's intro, as good a motto as any on a show that implicitly demonstrates what can be done with inspiration and a bit of technical know-how. There's also a deeper meaning, as Giertz points out in one episode, that by watching, viewers support "the overall idea of not being scared of failure when you're inventing and building things."
A note: Many of the machines featured on Scrappy Robots have already been the subject of videos on Giertz's personal channel, which has more questionable language and advertisements that may not be age-appropriate. Parents may prefer that their kids watch her videos on the Scrappy Robots only, but there are more videos on Giertz's channel.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Giertz makes robots that "don't really work." Is she failing in her experiments? Or is a working machine not truly her goal? What is her goal in making these machines and filming herself using them in Scrappy Robots?
This channel offers parents a unique opportunity to show kids the importance of a well-rounded education. What disciplines (math, science, etc.) does Giertz use in making her machines? How do you use what you've learned in everyday life?
Find more TV shows that help kids build character.