Tuesday, February 9, 2016

This week, 28 Days of STEM project is talking about STEM challenges. Unleash creativity of your upper elementary and middle school students with this homemade electricity tinker kit.
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An Engineering Tinker Club

Earlier this year, my husband was asked to help in setting up an engineering club for fourth graders in our daughter's school. Since my husband does not do anything half way, he ended up running the club and poured hours and hours of energy into it. The first big project of school year was a "jitter bug", and this is when parent volunteers of our Tinker Lab came up with an idea to give each fourth grader an electricity tinker kit in early February and encourage them to create their own projects for the upcoming science fair with the materials included in this kit. Our science fair allows "inventions" as a topic as long as they are not projects explicitly built from instructions. My husband took it seriously and spent a lot of his free time sourcing materials for 90 tinker kits, creating manuals, and assembling the kits. We cannot wait to see what the fourth graders will come up with.

What's Inside an Electricity Tinker Kit?

My husband sourced several components through eBay and bought big batches of these components. because he wanted to reduce cost to less than $10 per student. However, you can get all necessary supplies through Amazon or, perhaps, from raiding your existing science kits:

STEM Challenges for an Electricity Tinker Kit

What can you build with a simple DIY tinker kit?

My husband has created several projects as inspiration for kids. He did not include instructions for them in Tinker Kit manual, because the idea is for kids to tinker and build their own things, not to recreate projects from instructions. Instead, students were provided step-by-step instructions on how to build a push switch with paper clips, how to mount an LED, how to mount a motor vertically or horizontally, how to add a dimmer, etc. Using these building blocks and some materials around the house, kids can build any of these and much more:
  • A star projector
  • A mini-fan
  • A spin-art machine
  • An electronic quiz game

Your Turn

What would your kids build with these materials? Smarty's best friend already showed us his first try of a car with a motor-driven propeller. Not to be outdone, Smarty applied herself to building a simple night light. The opportunities are endless. I hope you will share a photo with my Planet Smarty Pants Facebook page if you put together this kit and your kiddos will build something with it!
STEM Challenges with a DIY Engineering Tinker Kit

More Engineering Ideas for Kids

From my blog:

28 Days of STEM

We are participating in the 28 Days of Hands-On STEM activities for kids! Check out its homepage to see a list of all the great STEM activities you can look forward to this month. I can't wait to see what my blogger friend offer for STEM Challenges, a topic of this week!

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maryanne @ mama smiles said...

These are really neat! Thanks for the supply list.

Ticia said...

But you didn't include the how to he put together?

I love this kit, and might have to make this into a present for my kids, they'd love it.

L. Green said...

I would love to buy this kit... But how do you put it together?

Grant and Christine said...

Thanks! There is a kit that costs $60 we were thinking about buying for this purpose. This will be a lot cheaper!