STEM For Children Goes Hands On and Gyros About
Science surrounds us and permeates everything that we say and do. So it’s no wonder that children should be introduced to scientific concepts as soon as possible — especially in today’s highly technical world. That’s not to say that science shouldn’t be fun for youngsters — only that providing “fun” need to be tempered with a strong sense of reality. For many that is what STEM is all about. Standing for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — it’s about creating ways to bring science to children without it being dull, boring and “adult.” Thames & Kosmos understands this, which is why their STEM Experiment Kits strongly follows this idea. So we pick up two examples that convey both science and fun: in the case of the Mega Cyborg Hand, it’s for children ages 7+ with parental supervision or 10+ all on their own, and The Amazing Tightrope-Walking GYROBOT for ages 6-14+.
The Mega Cyborg Hand is huge and consists o 203 parts, as well as being some 16” in length once assembled. There’s 5 experiments to do, plus a full manual. Because it’s not to be assembled and then stand back and watch — the assembler is going to wear and use it. Powered by pneumatic and hydraulic tech, the child won’t be able to avoid learning basic lessons about these technologies and what they can do. But first let’s note what must be provided by the assembler, which is a pair of scissors, a Philips head screwdriver, ruler, felt-tip marker and a cup of water.
Getting A (Robotic) Hands On Approach
So the box is opened and the parts are laid out on a table or the floor (which has been swept or cleaned, hardwood or carpet). The plastic parts include piston tubes, which will come in handy to make the hand operate. There’s no motors or electricity here, so it’s child safe to assemble and operate, but patience will be needed in order to complete the assembly correctly. What should be understood is that this cyborg hand will duplicate normal hand movements, such as opening and closing the hand and being able to enact enough force for gripping small objects without crushing them — this is not a knockoff of the 6 million dollar man (for the retro parents out there). The assembled hand can be put together for those whose dominant hand is left or right, along with a claw-like configuration where the thumb is centered (the thumb also is adjustable over a 160 degree arc). Then the child’s hand is placed inside similar to that of putting on a glove. But unlike a glove, each of the finger joints are adjustable for enabling different angles for precision movements. There’s also a rotary knob for increasing the angle of the fingers by up to 70 degrees.
Oh, while we noted what the glove doesn’t have, we should note that for the hydraulics to work there has to be water, right? So those piston tubes are going to get themselves filled with water from that cup.
The experiments that come in the manual teach about hydraulics and pneumatics without the fuss. C’mon now, who does’t want their own giant cyborg hand? For more details go to https://www.thamesandkosmos.com/index.php/product/category/science-kits/mega-cyborg-hand
The Gryroscope Is Like Magic
Meanwhile, The Amazing Tightrope-Walking GYROBOT may not have as many pieces as the hand does (being 43 pieces and a comic-story integrated color manual containing 8 experiments), but the way it can walk a tightrope will enthrall and excite a child’s imagination. Learning about robotics and physics comes with the territory, but it’s the gyroscope that will command the child’s attention (and everybody else’s) because what it can do will seem like magic.
Now in the case of the main component, the gyroscope, it will need to be powered and so it will be by a motor. This requires 3 “AAA” batteries as well as a small Philips-head screwdriver in order to come to life (and so parental help may be needed as depends on the child’s age). Once the assembly is completed (use the power of the manual, young scientists), the GYROBOT will be able to perform over different surfaces, Besides doing that impressive balancing rope trick, it can be used on a tabletop or or a pole or placed on one’s finger — experiment with different hard and soft surfaces and see what happens.
For more details on The Amazing Tightrope-Walking Gyrobot, go to https://www.thamesandkosmos.com/index.php/product/category/science-kits/the-amazing-tightrope-walking-gyrobot