Stem In A Box: Great new toy, er, tool for learning

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The Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst is made for kids about 8-12, but a little younger with supervision and older by a few years is cool.

I’ll put my unboxing shots off to the right so you can get an idea of what the kit contains.

Below, there are a few videos provided by the company in the form of videos, some made by kids who used the kit.

There is an increasing number of tinkering kits on the market, and they vary in two respects: How much different kinds of tinkering you can really do, and how well made the parts are. The Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst is at the top of the scale for each of these variables, among those I’ve seen. Considering that you get materials to cover STEM principles far and wide in one kit, Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst might be the cheapest kit (at just over $50, probably) per key concept, especially when compared to the higher priced LEGO offerings and similar.

The kit includes 2 standard electric motors, a battery pack (and batteries), two axles, various wheels made of wood, a large range of metal and wood connectors and shapes including wooden gears, various bolts and such, and a pair of safety goggles, just in case. Especially cute is the Giant Piece Of Blank Paper that will be cut up and used for a variety of things.

Supplementing all the materials, which come with a handy tin to hold hardware and a bag to hold stuff, are several guides and challenge cards and the like. A longer book provides an overview of the numerous building techniques that actually make up the core concepts of the kit, and the challenge cards (with a nice holder) guide the kid in a wide range of different directions.

Parents should be prepared: Things in your house may be … different … after this kit is deployed. But you know what they say. You’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelets.

And yes, there will be omelets.

Among the most interesting and potentially most fun deployments of this kit involve the supplied various colored markers. This may be a job for the giant piece of paper. Or, perhaps, you have a tile floor and some Mr. Clean? In any event, it is possible to make fast, cheap, and out of control Spirograph with this baby. I wonder if it can be used to decorate a cake?

In addition to this kit containing all you need to make dozens of different things, it would not be difficult to include LEGO parts, erector set parts, or other stuff you happen to have laying around the house.

Note that this is not a robotic toy. The motors are standard motors, not step motors, and there is no logic circuity or controller. This is just rudimentary make it spin and shake technology, as you can see in the various videos supplied below.

I will be bringing this item back in a couple of months to remind you to buy it for some kid at Christmas time. Meanwhile, there are always birthdays.

Have you read the breakthrough novel of the year? When you are done with that, try:

In Search of Sungudogo by Greg Laden, now in Kindle or Paperback
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