It all started with a birthday party. My 8- and 6-year-old sons were invited to a pair of brothers’ combined birthday party. The party would be a Beyblade tournament, so the guests were invited to bring their “best” Beyblades and “Let It Rip!”.
It took a bit of research to learn that what my kids were going to play with were actually toys spun-off from a Japanese manga series adapted to Japanese television. My college roommate’s son had asked for a set for his birthday last year and I ordered what he wanted from Amazon and had it shipped. Megan explained to me the concept — customizable tops that have assorted attributes that compete in a battle arena. In a Beyblade battle more than one top launches into a stadium, and the last-top spinning is the winner. My sons didn’t have any, and between their Legos and Kung Zhu pets, we had too many other toys keeping my checkbook active.
For this birthday party, the boys’ mother said there were plenty of extra Beyblades to go around, and my boys were introduced during the party. They loved it! By the time they left, they were talking about which ones to buy first, which stadiums to buy, and which “attributes” each of the Beyblades had. They used some of their own money to buy their first Beyblade “battle tops” and stadiums. The average top is about $10, and the average a la carte stadium is about $20.
It was fascinating helping the boys put together their first two Beyblades. Each top comes with a set group of parts, which is better explained through this Wikipedia entry. They had to assemble the “face”, “energy ring”, “metal wheel”, “spin track” and “performance tip” with the help of this wrench that’s included. I got the impression that you could interchange these parts amongst different Beyblade tops and really come up with something spectacular.
As the boys played and slowly accumulated additional tops, they began to develop strategies with their tops’ attributes: balance, stamina or attack. Tops can also be “left spinning” or “right spinning” and use of that tactic can come into play too. It was fun to see the boys attempt to launch into different sections of the stadiums and see what would happen. I saw kinematic physics at work here: conservation of angular momentum, centrifugal force, friction and gravity are all in play during a battle!
Not only did the boys start to use some physics skills, but a Cub Scout trip to the planetarium at Pensacola State College showed something else the Beyblades taught my young sons: basic astronomy and astrology.
I use both terms here on purpose. I say “astrology” because the names of the Beyblades in the Metal Fusion series are expressly tied to the Zodiac. But in our case, the astronomy was evident too. At the planetarium, the host was showing us what the Pensacola night sky would be on July 14th. He connected the stars over our heads with the lines and pictures for the constellations. As the sky fast-forwarded over our heads, the boys saw Pegasus and recognized the name from Beyblades. So then they kept their eyes on the images seeking the other astrological names from Beyblades: Leo, Sagittarius, Aries, Pisces, and Scorpio. They begged and begged to look for these constellations that evening (except it thunderstormed all weekend and we didn’t have a clear night until this week, and they aren’t even here now, they’re visiting relatives).
I’m excited that these strange little battle tops have inspired my sons to want to learn more about both kinematics and astronomy!
Another thing I love about these toys? They are completely FREE of batteries! At least for now…
Do your kids play Beyblades?
11 thoughts on “Let It Rip!: How Beyblades Are Teaching My Sons Science”
This reminds me of the Power Ranger Battle Spinners (last 3 images: http://www.megazord.net/page21.htm) that I used to have when I was in 5th grade. My friend and I use to collect and play them. Not nearly as customizable as today, though.
Great article. These are the kind I love. How games can inspire kids to learn!
My *daughter* LOVES her beyblades, but they were banned at school (I guess they were becoming a bit of a distraction during class!), so she now has a hard time finding competitors…
This is one of the few toys that I’m as eager to play with as my sons are! My wife gets a little frazzled by the noise, but the boys and I can play with Beyblade for hours.
I went with my 7 yr olds daycare to the UNT planetarium last week and he had a very similar reaction when he heard Taurus. We then went home and talked about astrology (and read our horoscopes). He loves playing with his Beyblades but his daycare has asked that the kids not bring them for safety reasons.
Either way, great article!
Thanks to everyone for the kind comments! What a great response!
To those who mentioned the Beyblades being banned from schools, I can understand why that’s the case. My youngest son recently tried to launch his top while standing up. “Just like they do on the TV show!”. The top went flying towards a wall and left quite a nick! I could imagine one of them hitting another child and it not being pleasant!
My sons occasionally attend after-school care when I’m on my AF Reserve duty and they’re allowed to play Beyblades in after-school care, but are strictly forbidden from taking them out of their backpacks during the day.
I work for a company that sells tons of Beyblades, so we talk about these often! They’re a favorite with us for the very reasons you mentioned – not only are they fun, but the kids are learning too. Even smaller kids enjoy it, so they also learn game rules and turn-taking. And what else introduces kids to physics so easily? They quickly grasp that changing a single component affects spin, friction, speed and stamina. Glad to see parents are noticing too!
This is great, and all, but are you directly connecting what they’re interacting with to the abstract equivalent? I fully support and see the benefit in playing to learn (my son is also obsessed with Beyblades), but kids aren’t going to magically make the scientific connection.
Until you help them draw parallels between the modeled the and abstract, it’s just a toy.
Cory: The answer to your question is “Yes”, we do help the kids make the connection. My husband is notorious for taking almost everything they do and applying a physics lesson to it: baseball, hockey, fishing, skiing, etc.
Sometimes we wonder if the lessons might go over our sons’ heads or bore them to death, but I’m often surprised with what they are retaining, and hopefully when they’re sitting in high school physics class one day, they’ll have memories of their Beyblades. 🙂
Well, I found this link on the BeyBlade Page on Facebook, and thought I’d read and comment, to some BeyBlade is a learning experience, a game, and or a sport. It’s hard but possible for BeyBlade to teach you science, but who am I to say this is a lie, right? But it’s good to see new BeyBladers, teach them about combos, also August 21 at all toys R us is a BeyBlade tournament. Well, there ya go. Bye.
Kenny Johnson (Blader chick from FB) 😀
Beyblades help my sons to bond and spend quality time together! 🙂 I am really so glad that they’ve found a common interest. They even planned on having a beyblade party once a month with their friends. As a proud mom, I always prepared their favorites to share with their friends.
Thanks to beyblade!
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