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.
DEAL: Use this link to save 40% on your first box of Tinker Crate! (or Kiwi Crate and the KiwiCo family subscriptions Koala Crate, Panda Crate, Atlas Crate, Doodle Crate, Maker Crate, and Eureka Crate).
This month, we are building our own LASER LANTERN!
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 lasers, and how they can help solve problems in medicine, manufacturing, moon measurement, and more!
The Tinker Zine does a great job of explaining the technology and introducing it in a kid-friendly way!
This booklet also has a suggested activity entitled Laser Show, where kids will be able to see and explore how light reacts when used in different mediums.
Featured on this part of the booklet is an article that discusses the amazing contribution of laser and how they are used to further improve our lives.
Here’s another article that provides us a deeper understanding of how lanterns work, in relation to lasers.
Wondering how a laser beam can turn your lantern on and off? It’s because the electronics inside the lantern respond to light – in other words, they’re photosensitive!
Another experiment to try is this Mega Mirror Maze! It’s a fun activity where you can play with reflections!
Tinker Crate Blueprint + Materials
The instructions and other project info are printed on a faux blueprint fold-out sheet.
This sheet lists down all the materials needed for the project!
They even included a troubleshooting segment and some tips to guide us to make the project easier and faster! If you are having trouble making the project, you can also visit their website for more detailed video instructions.
Tinker Crate Activities
The kit includes all the materials needed to construct your own laser lantern!
This sheet comes with illustrations of all the materials needed for each portion of the assembly. It’s so helpful, especially for those complex builds.
They also had this stop and check portion where you are asked to pause for a while and re-check if you are working on the right track!
For the first part of the project which is assembling the switches, we used circuit base, black sticky foam, ON circuit holder, LED, phototransistor, OFF circuit holder, photoresistor, sticky foam squares, and white sticky foam.
The first step is to lay out the circuit base and to install the completed ON and OFF circuit holder by sticking it down using the white sticky foams.
Once done with the switches, we moved on to wiring the circuit.
To wire the circuit, we used the completed circuit base, blue wire, wire harness, transistor, and rubber band.
Using the blue wire, my son connected both legs of the ON circuit.
Then, he looked for the big connector with three holes on the wire harness and plugged in the transistor with the plastic side facing up.
If a connector comes loose, you can stick it down using a sticky foam square just like what my son did.
If the battery slides so easily, then you can also stabilize it by sticking it in place using the sticky foam squares.
To construct the lantern, we used the completed circuit, lantern body, brads, and 9-volt battery.
This is what we love about the instruction sheet, it’s well-detailed. They even provided clear views for some of the key details that need to be properly executed!
To make the lantern itself, my son carefully bent the lantern body along the lines. One thing to remember when doing this is to avoid using extra force as it might tear the carton.
Then, he flipped the lantern’s body so the lettered-flaps face up, folded the flaps back, and slid the circuit base into the top until the line-up to the two big holes.
My son also poked the brads through the small holes in the body and the circuit base. It’s important to open its legs to totally lock it.
Here’s how the circuit should look like after installing it at the bottom part of the lantern.
This project will not be completed without this handy laser stick!
Now, it’s time to test this lantern! It works best if the room is dark.
To use, simply point the laser’s light on one of the holes of the lantern.
We pointed the laser on the left hole and the lantern automatically turned on.
We pointed it to the right and it turned off!
Here’s how it actually works! It’s amazing!
Here’s the completed laser lantern!
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 Illuminating World of Light with Max Axiom, Super Scientist and Invent It!
My kids love Tinker Crate projects! Every crate is packed with interesting STEM activities, which keeps my kids busy and also helps enhance their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In this month’s crate, we were sent all the materials for making a laser lantern, as well as well-detailed instructions and a fun booklet. My kids love going through the booklet and reading the features related to the project. It’s always great to see them having fun while working on the activities! If you are looking for a well-thought-out STEM activity box for kids, you’ll never go wrong with Tinker Crate!
Have you tried Tinker Crate yet with your kids?