Activities

Tinker Crate: STEM Fun All in One Box

My family often looks for things to build or experiments to conduct. We’ve joked about what our neighbors must think of the activities we do in our yard. Our family fun is well known amongst our family and friends for our projects. Starting last fall, our friends and family started tagging us in Facebook posts by the Kiwi Co about their Tinker Crates. These monthly subscription boxes are designed to deliver STEM-themed activities straight to one’s door. Each month’s theme provides children 9 to 16 years old with information, instructions, and supplies to further explore a variety of science, technology, engineering, and math topics. It seemed that everyone that saw information about the Tinker Crate subscription boxes thought they were designed specifically for us.

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After several months of “Hey have you scene this?” and “This would be perfect for you guys!”, I decided to give it a try. I originally purchased the crate for both my geeklings to do together, but when it arrived, my eldest was so involved with her science fair project that the youngest took it as his own. The first Tinker Crate to arrive was the Hydraulic Claw.

Wyatt n Tinker Crate Claw

 

First thing that I was surprised by when I opened the Tinker Crate was that it had more than one activity. It included a main themed build as well as several small experiments that illustrated the science behind the box’s main project. This wasn’t just some science kit that we would finish in no time. It was an entire Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math lesson compiled in one box.

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Each box arrives with an information and activity packed Tinker Zine booklet and main project blueprint. The enclosed booklet breaks down the science of it all in a way that young scientists, inventors, and makers can understand. My engineer husband, who is usually disappointed with how many DIY project kits explain the science of the projects, was pleasantly surprised with the quality the descriptions. With all the information and activities that come in one Tinker Crate, an inquisitive mind could be engaged for a few hours or take their time and stretch everything over a few days.

When we started our first box, my husband and I divided and conquered. I worked through the activities in the Tinker Zine with our son and he did the major build. Since the youngest geekling was only six when we started receiving the crates, he definitely needed assistance with each project. The concepts and activities are suitable for as young as six, but even with the picture descriptions as a guide, a builder’s reading level does need to be higher than 1st grade.

Fun and knowledge can be found by younger STEM-interested kids as long as they have an adult to be their assistant. Adult participation during the build is helpful not only to read the directions and be an extra set of hands, but to be a sounding board to the young engineer as they work through problems and each step. Interacting with the our child during the build was one of the best parts. Asking him questions about why he thought he was doing certain tasks and hearing his answers, gave insight into how his young brain was thinking through things and problem solving. It was awesome to experience that as a parent.

At first we thought we would just get one monthly box to see how it was. Fast forward several months and we have now received more than a half a year of Tinker Crates. Our family loves them! If you are on the fence about subscribing long term, I would suggest trying them out for a month or two. Though if your family does decide to receive them, I would highly recommend switching your subscription from a by month payment to a longer subscription payment as it will save you money. We went into the subscription sure that this was just another company that was jumping on the STEM bandwagon, and that Tinker Crate was just a gimmick. That it was a kit similar to anything a person could pick up in a store, but we found it to be much more. So glad we tried Tinker Crate.

Tinker Crate Snapshot Review

Pros

  • Well designed
  • Creative Activities and Builds
  • Educational in a fun way that keeps children engaged
  • Comes with just about everything needed to do all the activities in each crate.
  • Describes concepts in a way children can understand. Concepts are not “dumbed down”.
  • Introduces and demonstrates a wide-range of scientific and engineering concepts

Cons

  • Cool projects but not easy to store after being built
  • Can get expense if doing a month-by-month subscription ($19.95 per month) versus a 6 month ($18.50 per month) or year long subscription ($16.95 per month)
  • Promoted as a kit that can be done by a child alone, but found several times that an extra set of hands were needed to get certain tasks done right.

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