If you’re not familiar with Tinkercrate, it’s a company that creates STEAM projects for children of all ages. You can buy one project at a time or buy a subscription where you can get a new project sent to your child every month. The projects are divided by age group and come with a small magazine that contains articles and experiment ideas. If you buy a subscription, you can get each project for less than $20 (price includes shipping).
Our first project was a rubber band race car. The race car is made of wood with plastic screws. The pieces are already separated, so you don’t have to trim it from the molding. The directions come with pictures. My son is a weak reader, so to prevent frustration, I read the directions to him while he looked at the pictures. He was able to put the car together with little help from me. Mostly, he just needed help with tightening screws and the more cumbersome parts of the project (like holding three pieces together while you screw something in). The directions also come with a link to a video if you prefer to watch the video for directions. The directions were divided up into sections. That was nice because each section served as a stopping point if you needed to take a break or put the project away. However, I doubt that will be necessary. It only took about 30 minutes to complete the race car. When we were done, the car worked great.
The Tinker Zine was short. It contained a couple of articles about cars. It also contained experiment ideas for the car we just built. Those ideas go over modifications to the car and what to expect with each modification. The articles are related to the experiments as well. The kit came with extra parts so that you can make these modifications. At the end of the zine, there was a short list for extended reading.
You can do the project, read the zine, and do the experiments all in one day. You can also build the projects, play with it, and save the experiments for another time. Depending on how rough your child is with his/her toys, the car could last all month or longer. The parts themselves are of high enough quality not to just fall apart from playing with, but if you like to crash your car, it won’t last long.
Overall, I think it’s worth $20. My son got to put something together that he could then play with. He learned about tension and force. And through the experiments, he’ll soon learn about how changes in the design of the race car changes how it performs.
Tinkercrate also offers a referral based incentive program. You get a referral link when you sign up, and recieve credit when someone signs up via your link. You can sign up via my referral link here. Or you can go directly to their website here.