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 WOODEN AUTOMATION.
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 everything we need to know about Automatons, a mechanical device that seems to operate by itself!
This part of the Tinker Zine features a detailed history of Automatons. They even provided a brief timeline that started in the 1200s where a Turkish inventor Al-Jazan built a now-famous hand-washing automaton, up to 1739 where a French engineer named Jacques De Vaucanson invented an automaton known to be the Digesting Duck!
This booklet also features an activity where you need to build a mechanism called the Art Automaton.
This part of the booklet features four different designs that we can add on top of the Art Automaton. It includes the flapping butterfly, nodding giraffe, shivering penguin, and even a hatching egg.
This article is definitely a great read. It’s a unique story about the mysterious affair of the anonymous automaton created by Henri Maillardet, a Swiss clockmaker who lived in the 1700’s and who had been known to craft automatons.
Here’s a detailed step-by-step procedure in making a spinning automaton.
This booklet also provides a space where you can sketch your ideas for your own automatons, while on the other side are the cut-out figures we can use for our spinning automaton.
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!
Tinker Crate Activities
For this project, we used the following materials: support pieces, sidewalls, cardboard brace, cardboard spacers, cardboard locking piece, crank, cams, rubber rings, sticky foam strips, sticky foam squares, balls, stair pieces, stickers, and chute piece.
The instruction sheet is well-detailed. They even highlight important and technical areas.
The sheet even features a lot of explanatory notes!
The first part of the project is building the frame which includes the different cardboard support pieces, sidewalls, brace, spacers, locking piece, and sticky foams.
The first step is to place the sticky foams under each slit, slide the walls into it, and gently press down to lock in place.
Then, pinch the edges of the cardboard and place them between the walls and angle slits. Slide the spacers into the vertical slits in the wall and push them all the way through, then lock them all up using the cardboard
According to this part of the booklet, the cams face should be positioned up and down.
To build the crank, we used the completed frame, crank, six pieces of cams, rubber o-rings, and sticky foam strips.
Make sure that none of the cams are facing the side!
Once all the cams are in their proper places, we then slide the end of the crank through the other side of the frame and lock it using two strips of sticky foam to hold the crank in place.
The third part of the project is the building of the stairs which includes the stair pieces, chute piece, stickers, and sticky foam squares.
We even received 3-pieces of wooden balls to demonstrate the project.
Put the balls onto the stairs and carefully turn the crank, observe how the balls climb the stairs until they reach the top.
Once the ball reaches the top, they’ll start rolling back down the chute, into the brace and start climbing up again!
Here’s the wooden automation in action!
Here’s the complete set of our own Wooden Automaton!
After we made the Wooden Automaton project, my son quickly worked on the extra activity which is the spinning automaton.
The mechanism for this project is pretty simple compared to the wooden automaton, so as the procedure to build.
He chose the hatching egg design, which looks super cute!
Tinker Crate Extensions
The Zine also provided more ways to tinker via the Tinker Library, where they suggest related literature for this month’s topic: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and Karakuri: How to Make Mechanical Paper Models That Move.
We can’t get enough of this awesome project from Tinker Crate! Most of the materials are provided so all we have to do is just read the instructions and get started. My kids loved this box so much, especially because they get to learn engineering concepts and create something wonderful afterward. It definitely helps improve their creativity, analysis, and imagination. This subscription also teaches my kids a never-give-up attitude and to be more keen on details. If you want a hands-on learning experience for kids, Tinker Crate is definitely a great subscription to try!
Have you tried Tinker Crate yet with your kids?