Tinker Crate is a subscription box for kids ages 9-14 from the makers of KiwiCo. Like Kiwi Crate, it comes with everything you need to complete projects based around a central theme. Unlike Kiwi Crate, however, these projects are less craftsy and more based on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning and enrichment.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.
About Tinker Crate
The Subscription Box: Tinker Crate
The Cost: $19.95 per month + free shipping
ACTIVE DEAL: Get 50% off your 1st month! No coupon needed - just use this link.
The Products: STEM-based crafts and DIY projects for kids, with supplemental learning kits, booklets, and activities. Projects are designed to enhance children's critical thinking and problem-solving skills through activities that are exciting and fun!
Ships to: Anywhere in the United States and Canada, including Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and APO addresses. Free within the United States, $6.95 to Canada.
Tinker Crate July 2018 "Think Outside The Box" Review
Every box comes with a copy of TinkerZine magazine, which includes articles about that month's theme, as well as smaller projects and experiments. This month's theme is "Think Outside the Box!" I usually do this box with my twelve-year-old son, but this month my ten-year-old decided to give it a shot.
In addition to the large project that Tinker Crate sends, the magazine has several articles plus smaller projects you and your child can undertake to gain a deeper knowledge of the scientific principles of that month's topic.
This month's big project is a puzzle box! Which makes the theme make so much more sense! How clever!
Here's a peek inside the instructions this month. They may look a little intimidating, but they are always very clear, complete, and easy-to-follow.
These were the materials Tinker Crate supplied for the project. With Tinker Crate, sometimes you have to supply a few things, but they are always items you have at home, like scissors or water. This month they included everything we needed for the project. Sometimes Tinker Crate includes some supplies for the smaller projects in TinkerZine, too.
My son's first series of steps was to build two of the side walls of the box. He had to assemble latches to the inside of these two walls using washers and brads, then cover them. The box would ultimately be used to store things, so I guess the inner covers are to protect the latch mechanisms.
His next step was to assemble the four side walls by attaching foam guards and then simply sliding them together into place.
He then attached the bottom with sticky foam and slid it into place, too.
Here's where it gets interesting! So, there are two movable grey plastic nail holders that are inserted into the slot near the top and can slide inwards or outwards. The nails were inserted into alternating holes on the two sides. When the pieces are closed together, the nails slide all the way in.
Then he inserted a locking piece to keep the two plastic pieces apart. This keeps the two pieces from being able to be pulled back up through the slot.
This is what the top looks like with the nails fully inserted. (The nails are quite dull, by the way - safety first!) Then he attached a magnet to the side which is held into place by the metal washer at the bottom of the latch inside the walls on either side.
His final step was to attach the top piece to the inner guard piece with sticky foam, which was done by sliding the top into place, then pressing the top piece down over the sticky foam.
This is his completed puzzle box! So, the way it works, you move the latch pieces up on either side using the magnets, which unlocks the latches. Then, you have to spin the box really hard, and the centrifugal force is supposed to move the nails out of the center plastic guard so that the lid can be removed. Unfortunately, it didn't work as expected. If you understand centrifugal force, you will be able to predict (as I did) that only the nails toward the outside walls of the box would move out adequately to remove the top. The inner nails stayed put and the box wouldn't open. So, the solution was to simply remove the nails in the center, and the box worked as expected. It was kind of a bummer that the box didn't work by following the instructions, but I think in the long run my son learned even more about centrifugal force when we solved this problem together than he would have if it had worked just by following the instructions. So... it was a win! Haha.
The Verdict: We love Tinker Crate! This month's project was a hard-earned victory, but I actually think having to solve this problem together was a big learning experience for my son. I really appreciate how it gets both boys interested in engineering. I actually don't know how Tinker Crate comes up with such great project ideas month after month. They also send quality materials and provide loads of educational content. It's a huge value for $20!
To Wrap Up:
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What do you think of Tinker Crate?