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How We Feel About Tinker Crate

Mar 11 2018

Are We Happy With Tinker Crate?

At the beginning of the school year, our very STEM oriented student was gifted a 6 month subscription to Tinker Crate. I will be completely honest with you regarding how we feel about Tinker Crate and let you know upfront that we love it!  This product is everything that I could have hoped a subscription box would be. In fact, we are so happy with it that we chose to purchase an ongoing subscription of our own. I had briefly considered mixing it up and ordering a different STEM based monthly box, but Tinker Crate was just SO GOOD that I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe someday we will order something in addition to Tinker Crate, but not instead of.

What is Tinker Crate?

Tinker Crate is a service that will mail your child a high quality engineering kit every month. It comes with detailed instructions and an educational booklet called the “Tinker Zine,” which contains additional experiments that you can do to enhance your experience. The thing about the Tinker Zine is that it is actually enriching and it truly does take the kit to the next level. We are using Tinker Crate to supplement our homeschool curriculum, and not as a curriculum itself.

How Tinker Crates Work

I will show you some of the steps that we went through to build the “Spin Art Machine” kit as an example of how Tinker Crate works. This one was particularly appealing because it combined both engineering and art.

We found the directions for the spin art machine to be detailed, yet easy to understand. First, we were instructed to install a motor in the bottom of the box that the kit was delivered in. It came with a foam ring that stuck to the cardboard to hold it in place. Next, we ran the wires out the front of the box to be used later on.

how we feel about Tinker Crate - spin art machine motor

After that, we put a small breadboard circuit together. The instructions went into great detail to explain exactly how to do this. My student is a bit younger than the recommended age for Tinker Crate, so he required some assistance with this step simply due to the dexterity that it required.

How we feel about Tinker Crate - spin art machine breadboard

Next, we added a battery with a switch, and connected it to the motor and the breadboard. We then plugged one last wire from the motor into the breadboard to complete the circuit. When we tested it out, we were excited to see the motor start to spin!

How we feel about Tinker Crate - spin art machine circuit

After that, we were instructed to add foam guides to a wooden plate and attach it to the motor to complete the project. The kit included paper and paint, so we were able to try it out immediately, without having to search around for materials. This is really one of the things that I love about these kits – the fact that everything we need for the main experiment comes right in the box.

How we feel about Tinker Crate - spin art machine

After the machine was completely finished, my student dripped some paint onto the paper, closed the paint shield, and turned it on to create a fun work of art in seconds!

How we feel about Tinker Crate - spin art machine


Learn About Science With The “Tinker Zine”

The learning did not stop there. Included in our set was the “Tinker Zine.” This booklet featured an impressive amount of information on the science of spinning to support the main experiment.

First, there was a brief introduction to physics, followed by suggestions for different ways to wire the breadboard.  Next, centripetal and centrifugal forces are explained and additional experiments are suggested to demonstrate the lesson. If that wasn’t enough, they conclude the Tinker Zine by recommending a related app, a DK book about forces, and provide a QR code that links to this page on their website.

In my opinion, it is the Tinker Zine that really makes this subscription box shine as an educational product. We have used science kits in the past that provided a degree of hands on learning, but were more or less lacking in supportive educational materials. The Tinker Zine is what really completes the package for me.

Other Tinker Crates That We Have Made

Another Tinker Crate that we have received was the Hydraulic Claw. This kit may resemble a piece of construction equipment, but the information in the included Tinker Zine actually sparked an unexpected interest in animatronics for my student.

How we feel about Tinker Crate - hydraulic claw

Last is the Arcade Catapult. I could connect this to our history studies about Roman Catapults, but in all honesty, this Tinker Crate was more about fun then anything else. It taught us that science and engineering are often used simply for enjoyment!

How we feel about Tinker Crate - arcade catapult

How we feel about Tinker Crate - arcade catapult

How We Feel About Tinker Crate

If it’s not obvious already, I recommend Tinker Crate for any student who is interested in science and engineering. The materials are well constructed, and the price truly is a great value for everything that comes in this little box. We look forward to receiving our Tinker Crates every month and I genuinely want for others to experience all that Tinker Crate brings to our family!

What about you? Have you tried Tinker Crate or any other subscription boxes yet? Please comment below with the details and your own personal recommendations!

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