Tinker Crate is a subscription box that inspires kids to learn about science, engineering, and technology, all while having lots of fun. Each month, the box explores a field of study within a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) discipline. Kids practice their problem-solving skills and learn how to engage in both structured and open-ended exploration and investigation. Most boxes walk the tinkerers through the construction of fairly complex mechanical devices.
This month, we are building our own SHAKE TABLE.
Everything arrives together in a single Tinker Crate – the supplies, a fold-out instruction sheet, and the Tinker Zine.
The main project is always a great hands-on activity and a great demonstration of the scientific principles featured in the box, but the Tinker Zine is full of well-written, historically and scientifically accurate background and explanatory materials. This where the lessons really take shape!
Tinker, Create, Innovate
KiwiCo equips the next generation of innovators with the tools and confidence for creative exploration and problem solving.
This month’s Tinker Zine discusses different things about earthquakes, including the structures they affect. There’s also an Earthquake Design Challenge and many more!
Here, they listed the characteristics that make a building earthquake-proof. It’s supposed to have flexibility and vibration control. Base isolation also helps, as well as the quality of materials used.
It’s an interesting read! My daughter was eager to learn about how buildings are designed to withstand natural disasters.
To apply what we have learned from the article, there’s an earthquake design challenge!
There are two sets of challenges. First is the strength challenge, where we test the amount of weight the structure can take. The other one is the stability challenge, where we test several materials to build a stable structure.
There’s also an article about Taipei 101 and how this tall structure was built right on top of an active fault line.
And since we’re talking about the earthquake, it’s just right for us to look inside our planet Earth!
Tinker Crate Blueprint + Materials
The instructions and other essential project information are printed on a faux blueprint fold-out sheet.
It also lists down all the materials needed for the project! For this project, we used the following materials: spinner piece, craft stick, gear, washers, sticky foam, damper pieces, shake table box, platform, battery pack, motor, rubber bands, toothpicks, short zip ties, long zip ties, AA batteries, brads, and foam balls. From home, we’ll only need a pair of scissors.
This sheet also gives you a glimpse of how the end product would look like and the materials that you should expect inside the crate.
Tinker Crate Activities
The faux blueprint has illustrations of all the materials needed for each portion of the assembly. For our first activity, we’re building the base.
Also, it has a lot of explanatory notes, and they highlight or bold important and technical areas. You also need to stop and check some important steps and parts of the project if you’re doing them correctly so there’s no need to go back to square one.
Here, we need to stop and check if the structure stands up straight. It’s great that at every checkpoint and you found out that what you’re doing is quite not right, there are readily available solutions.
The illustrations are great so we can easily follow more complex makes or steps, even ones that involve electronics or wirings like a battery pack or a motor.
The items inside the box were also individually packaged and can easily be identified, just compare everything that’s on the list.
There’s also an included battery instruction sheet.
Also, after taking everything from the box, it’s good to separate the items according to the activities to make it easier.
In building the base, we’ll need the zip ties, rubber bands, the platform, and the shake table box.
To complete the base, we’ll also need the motor and the battery pack, plus the spinner parts.
We’ll use the toothpick, brads, and foam balls in making the structure.
We made the structure by forming and connecting squares using the foam balls and toothpicks.
In testing the structures durability and adding weight, we’ll make us of some washers and damper pieces.
First up, we completed the base. After completing and attaching the battery pack, we placed the platform on top of the shake table box.
We attached it using the zip ties.
Here’s a look at the completed shake table.
The spinner is placed just below the platform. We tested it by turning on the battery pack.
This part of completing the table is successful if the spinner spins freely, and it did!
Now, it’s time to form the structure on top of the shake table! The balls fit nicely on the slots located on top of the platform.
The structure that we made consists of 3 squares.
The damper pieces go on top of the structure.
As we turned on the shake table, the structure lean and fell. It shows that the structure cannot bear the weight applied to it.
We made a two-square structure and applied the same weight to it. It seems that the shorter structure can hold on to the weight despite the shaking.
For a longer period, the structure was able to withstand the shaking with an added weight, but we can see that some of the toothpicks are about to fall down.
It’s really a great experiment to test out, and understand the architecture and engineering of some structures!
Tinker Crate Extensions
The Zine also provided more ways to tinker via the Tinker Library, where they suggest related literature or applications for this month’s topic: When the Earth Shakes: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis, and Roadside Geology.
It’s always fun to learn some engineering and architecture, and this month’s crate presented us with lots of learning and some experiments to try out and further understand the principles and concepts behind building structures that can withstand an earthquake. We all know that it’s a natural phenomenon, and the Tinker Zine also provided us more information about it, how it takes place, and its effects. The shake table is the perfect project for us to see how the phenomenon affects all of us, especially the structures that we build, and how can we make them stronger to hold and stand after the disaster. Now we all know that there are a lot of things to consider in building some structures. Tinker Crate is definitely a great activity box that lets the kids explore a lot of stuff and happenings around us by engaging them in hands-on activities and projects!
Have you tried Tinker Crate yet with your kids?