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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:
- 4 alligator clip cables
- 1 Battery holder for 2 1.5V batteries
- A round mini motor 1.5-3V
- 2 releasable cable ties
- 2 56 Ohm resistors
- Mini LEDs - 3 white, 2 yellow, 2 green, 2 red.
- 20 metal brads (paper fasteners)
- 10 paper clips, 10 toothpicks, 10 craft sticks
STEM Challenges for an Electricity 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
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!
More Engineering Ideas for Kids
From my blog:
- 12 Amazing Engineering Ideas for Kids
- LEGO Egg Racers
- Design and Build a Roller Coaster
- Build a Boat that Floats
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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