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.
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This month, we are building our own WOODEN CRANE!
Assemble a pulley-powered crane that can spin around, raise its arm, and lift loads. Then swap pulleys in and out to see first-hand how mechanical advantage makes it easier to lift things.
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!
Inspiring young innovators with seriously fun and enriching hands-on experiences.
This month’s Tinker Zine is all about pulleys and the amazing amount of inventiveness and fun you can create with it.
There’s an activity about making a fixed pulley and a compound pulley.
The next pages feature an article about the towering ancient columns and medieval castles, and how they’re made.
Here are more suggested activities, which are crane experiments that use two-pulley and three-pulley configurations.
They provided space where kids can write and compare the results of the experiment.
The next pages explain Mechanical Advantage. It’s when a tool or machine makes it easier to lift, push, or pull an object.
Some of the materials for the project were packed in plastic.
Tinker Crate Blueprint + Materials
The instructions and other project info are printed on a faux blueprint fold-out sheet.
One side of the sheet has pointers for using your newly-constructed device, plus an inventory of all the supplies provided in the crate.
This sheet also gives you a glimpse of how the end product would look like, and how it works. There are also some operation tips, and of course, troubleshooting! If you are having trouble making the project, you can also visit their website for more detailed video instructions.
Tinker Crate Activities
For this project, the crate provided the following materials: small stand piece, big stand piece, bracket pieces, base, arm pieces, connector pieces, hook, loading disc, hook sides, sticky foam shapes, bolts, spacers, spools, long string, short string, cranks, pipe cleaner, and load box. We also used a pencil from home and the empty Tinker Crate box.
The faux blueprint has illustrations of all the materials needed for each portion of the assembly. For more complex builds, this is really handy for getting out just what you need for the current step.
You can also stop and check your progress for certain steps so in case there are some problems, you can troubleshoot right away and continue finishing the project with lesser worries.
First, here are the materials needed to build the crane body!
My son prepared both the big and small stand pieces.
He stuck the sticky foam shapes on the different parts of the stand pieces, and on the locking disc as well.
It’s time to connect the different parts of the crane’s body!
The crane body is now complete, he’s ready to move to part B where he will attach the crane arm.
The easy-to-follow images on the sheet are really helpful!
It’s time to add the other foam pieces so that he can also attach the arms of the crane.
Here are the materials that make up the arm of the crane.
My son poked the end of the string on the hole on the top spool so that the crane will function properly.
The next part is to add the hook, and here are the materials to complete this part.
To make the load box, just attach the pipe cleaner on holes on the sides of the box.
The pipe cleaner will serve as the handle where the hook is going to be attached so that it can be lifted.
After completing the crane, it’s time to try the crane experiments that can be found in the Tinker Zine.
First, my son tried using only one pulley.
The kids added more load to the box as they lift it with just a single pulley.
They even tried to lower the load box and see how he crane will effectively lift it up and how fast it can be lifted.
The next thing my son did is to turn it into a two-pulley crane!
This three-pulley configuration is the easiest and fastest!
It was able to lift the box fast, although the load box contained more stuff.
It proved the point of Mechanical Advantage, adding more pulleys makes it easier to lift the load up and with less effort.
It’s another fun project and experiment!
Tinker Crate Extensions
The Zine also provided more ways to tinker via the Tinker Library, where they suggest that we try the app called Simple Machines by Tinybop, and a book titled City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction. There’s also a page where kids can sketch out notes and ideas!
Tinker Crate projects introduce scientific principles that kids can apply to everyday life. This month, my kids enjoyed building the crane and testing which configuration works effectively to lift objects! As always, the crate provided all the materials and easy-to-follow instructions so we didn’t have to worry about anything else. The supplementary activities from this box are also fun and educational. Even the booklet is helpful, as it provided information and trivia related to the featured topic in a kid-friendly way. This activity subscription is ideal for homeschoolers or any kid who loves science and crafting! The topics always leave a great impact on my kids, and I’m happy they do!
Have you tried Tinker Crate yet with your kids?