Sunday 9 December 2018

STEM Tinker Crates by KiwiCo

**** Please note that I do not receive commissions of any kind for this review. It is simply a product that we have found useful. ****

Several months ago I stumbled across a company on a social media site which caught my attention and my inner science geek interest …. KiwiCo.

Both and O and L love science and doing extra curricular unschooling activities like making slime, researching topics of interest on the internet, digging for dinosaur bones and shark teeth and so on. So when I spotted the products that KiwiCo produce, I immediately thought that my little superheroes would love them.

KiwiCo are a company that makes STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) activities accessible, engaging and fun for kids. The company produces a number of crates for children that are along the STEAM line of interest.

They offer monthly (or 3 monthly, 6 monthly or 12 monthly) subscriptions for various ages - Tadpole Crate is an Explore and Discover project for ages 0 to 36 months, Koala Crate is a play and learn project for ages 3 to 4, Kiwi Crate is a science and art project for ages 5 to 8, Atlas Crate is a Geography and Culture project for ages 6 to 11, Doodle Crate is an Art and Design project for ages 14 plus, Tinker Crate is a Science and Engineering project for ages 9 to 16 and the Eureka Crate is an Engineering and Design project for ages 14 to 104! You can opt out of the subscription at any stage.

I chose the Tinker Crate which is aimed at children between the ages of 9 to 16 years. Both of my little superheroes, but especially O, love their science. I also figured that the Tinker Crate would extend on O's knowledge of science. The Tinker Crate is a STEM project and each crate (read project box) contains the materials needed to create the STEM project, an amazing blueprint that has detailed step-by-step instructions on how to make the project, a Tinker Zine which is essentially a magazine with additional science activities and experiments based on the STEM project and access to video tutorials.

Initially I wasn't sure what to expect so when our first tinker crate arrived, I was a little apprehensive. Was the crate going to be worth the monthly fee? Would O and L enjoy the STEM project in the tinker crate? And the all important question, would I need to gather any extra resources?

I needn't have worried. O and L loved the crate. While the crate is aimed at O's age group, L thoroughly enjoyed helping to make the project. And the project stimulated and extended on O's interest in STEM activities. The crate contained everything that O and L needed for the project, except for a pair of scissors.

The first crate that we received was a Spin Art Project. O and L assembled a Spin Art machine, using science and engineering principles to create some amazing art projects. 

While t
he blueprints were quite easy for O to read and follow, it did challenge her understanding of how things worked. She also did an amazing job at explaining the steps on the blueprint to L.

Once the little superheroes had created their spin art machine, they then experimented with the placement of the resistors on the breadboard to increase and decrease the speed of their spin art machine. 

O was fascinated by the concept that simply by moving the resistors on the breadboard, they were able to change the speed of the motor - the path of least resistance caused the motor to spin fast. The path with the most resistance caused the motor to spin at a slower rate. L was fascinated by the patterns that they were creating. I loved that they were both so busy having fun, that they didn't realise that they were doing lots of learning!!

One of the best things about the spin art machine was that there was no mess - all of the paint was contained within the crate that the components came in! Once they had finished making and playing with their spin art machine, O asked "Can you get another crate please, that was fun!" Sure can kiddo, we just need to wait a month until the next crate arrives!!

We recently received our second Tinker Crate - a STEM project to create a mini planetarium. As soon as I read what the project was, I knew that O would love it as her main interest is anything to with space. She loves getting out into the backyard at night time to do a spot of star gazing!. This weekend just gone, O had her bestie G over for a sleepover and on Sunday afternoon they were looking for something "interesting" to do, so I brought the Tinker Crate out and they both got right into the project.

Once O and G had completed the planetarium, they took it into O's bedroom to test it out. We had a little readjusting of the inside of the planetarium as there were a few gaps in the panels but wow, for a planetarium made out of cardboard, the stars projected really well. The tricky part was finding that the stars could project onto!

The girls then decided that they wanted to take the planetarium to school the following day to show their teacher. Not only was their teacher impressed, but they also had the opportunity to take the planetarium up to show one of the school's deputy principals (and the school student leaders who just happened to be meeting with the deputy principal.) O and G were very chuffed after school when they were telling me all about how they received a Deputy Principal's award for the project!!

I would highly recommend the Tinker Crate to anyone who is wanting to extend on their child's interest in STEM principles. The Tinker Crate also me curious about the other products available from KiwiCo! Watch this space for future developments!

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