This is a fun thread.
My kids have too many modelling projects on the go - something (as a dad) I’m rather proud of. Most of them are just passive plastic models (of the Airfix and toy soldier variety) but I had great fun with those as a kid, and know they are useful in building skills, confidence, and pride in one’s work. My elder son (he’s 10) has a balsa and tissue Piper Cup on the bulding board. It’s taking a while, but can be powered by either rubber (oops - I mean elastic) band or electric engine, so it too is a feeder for bigger things.
Why do my kids show an interest? Probably because their dad is always in the basement or the garage “tinkering”.
I built many models as a kid - starting with my first plastic kit (a Mk1 Spitfire) at the age of 8. Actually I think I had a “Thunderbird 2” (the Americans may not follow this) a little earlier but it was built with “grown up” help.
I also come from a family that always had boats (of the full sized variety) and so there was always work to be done. I built a dinghy with my father (a tender for the family yacht - in the New Zealand sense - what the Americans would probably call a pocket cruising sailboat!) in my teenage years, and owned my own racing (sailing) dinghy by the age of 13, and was responsible for my own maintenance.
I was designing keelboats - including specifications for building materials and manual (we did not have computer-aided boat design tools back then) displacement calculations etc by the age of 15 or 16. Needless to say, without money, none of my designs ever got built.
I built my first sailing model at 14 - a free sailing model from a plan we bought from the local model shop. The plan was probably 20 years old at the time we bought it, and together with my brother and two friends we built four boats off that plan. They sailed well, and two of them are in my basement now, awaiting restoration. They will be 30 years old later this year.
My working life is spent working with tax law and numbers. Model sailboats were always just a bit of fun - until I moved from one of the best big boat sailing locations in the world to a city 1,000 miles from the sea. Now, unable to get my sailing fix on the ocean every weekend, the models are a passion.
And now when I design a boat - I can afford to build it, because it is only one metre long!
And I get to tinker with sails, carbon foils, masts, everything. All the things I could never dream of doing myself when the boats I was racing cost more than my house!
I get to live the career (in a small way) I really wanted - what a relief from tax consulting!
And I have a fair degree of competence in “tinkering” because I learned from good mentors as a kid.
So now I’m a mentor for my kids.
So what’s the point? Just that if we show the next generation what we are doing, bulding, designing, engineering - then we will set the example. And in some, a spark will be fired. They may take up modelling - but then again they may take up a career in science, engineering or who knows what.
Recently my two sons sailed their first RC races at my club, and had a lot of fun. One of them showed a bit of talent too. I’m a bit biased - but believe (as some others do) that the Footy is not the class to start them on. So I’ve designed a multi-chine USOM to be built out of light ply (1/16th) and light fiberglass laminate. The boys can and will build the boats (with some help) and because they are larger than a Footy, they will be a little more forgiving of building error and rather easier to sail (the design is for a hull which is very “balanced” and displaces about 7 1/2lb or 3.4kg - not competitive in a USOM fleet but able to hold its own in an ODOM fleet). I have three boats - a Victoria, and ODOM and an IOM - and of course the boys like the biggest and the fastest. This is a point alluded too in a posting above - expect kids to want what the grown-ups have got. I guess I’m fortunate in having the tools and the materials to built these allow the boys to build these boats pretty cheaply. I have the fiberglass, epoxy, sail materials, radios, rigging materials and some servos “in stock”.
The pride that we have in our completed creations will be the same for the kids. They just need the opportunity, and some enforced absence from tv, computer games and the MP3 player! All that has changed is the availability of new pursuits. All kids need is mentors to push them in the right direction. We sometimes overlook that we are just as guilty for not making out time available to our children and grandchildren.