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Thursday, August 13, 2015

ThinkFun Maker Studio - Propellers Set Review


My son and I recently had the chance to play with the Maker Studio Propellers Set. It is one of several construction sets that ThinkFun offers, where they provide a bunch of the parts and you provide some items from your recycling bin. Combined, for the Propellers Set, you can build a helicopter, bi-plane, or windmill, or several other options. You're doing basic engineering so the item can fly or at least the propellers can rotate thanks to the construction and some rubber bands provided.
When you open the box, you get an X-linkage, connectors, wheels, rods, and hub caps. That larger black piece in the picture above is for poking holes. For our first build, we didn't have a cleaned up potato crisps can (Pringles or otherwise) but instead decided to use a Ben & Jerry's pint ice cream carton. It seemed like a reasonable alternative at the time. My wife was happy to provide more empty cartons if we needed any.

After poking holes all around, you then start added the different components to the carton. This sounds simple but was a little tricky for my eight year old son. It got a little frustrating at times to get things just right and to get the hub caps to hold the rods in place without crushing the carton. We had to improvise a little with the positioning of holes as the carton is slanted/not fully cylindrical.
In the end, apart from not getting the tail angled properly, I think we did a good job. After all the pieces are together, you wrap a rubber band around the spool on the inside and the rotor on top spins.

At this point, you're supposed to take things apart and build the next contraption with the same components but my son liked what he built and left things be. Personally, I'm glad as the little black rubber hub caps aren't that easy to put on and off. They do a great job of holding things together without any nails or screws but they take a little effort to get things positioned just right and would be a bear to disassemble.
The engineering set itself retails for just shy of $20 on Amazon. In addition to the Propellers Set, they also have ones for Gears and Winches. If your kid likes science and engineering, it is a fun set to play with, but I'd put the minimum age at maybe 10 instead of 7.


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