Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
Hands-on learning engages the mind like nothing else can. It turns it on. Maybe that is why Pitsco Education uses the hashtag of #handsonmindson . I really like that! We have been using the Middle School STEM Creator Pack (46204), which is designed for grades 6-8. It has been a great fit and we have enjoyed it tremendously.
Pitsco Education is a company that has products designed for hands-on learning and problem solving that engage the brain in discovery learning. The company is striving to provide real-life learning and training that does more than boost their scientific knowledge. Rather, they are trying to build the relevant skills to help the academic skills thrive alongside. This includes social interaction, working with others, observing and testing ideas, and guiding open-ended projects. Pitsco has worked to make sure their products meet national standards and guidelines, as well. The core mission is student success.
Pitsco Education works to meet this core mission of student success through products and activities they offer. There are products available for all ages. Whether you are looking for a STEM kit of activities, a set of family challenges, or a programming activity, there are several choices for you. The Crew has been reviewing these products:
Elementary STEM Explorer Pack (46198) – Grades K-5
Middle School STEM Creator Pack (46204) – Grades 6-8
High School STEM Innovator Pack (46210) – Grades 9-12
Family Design Challenges Kit (TRG kit 46235) – Grades 3-8
Code Cube Single Kit (45843) – Grades 3-5
Smart Buddies at Home – Grades 3-5
Arduino Education Student Kit (46239) – Grades 6-12
(You can read more about each one and see more information on the giveaway by visiting the Homeschool Review Crew blog.)
STEM Creator Pack for Middle School (grades 6-8)
We received this fully-packed box in the mail and had a joy opening it to see what we were going to get to do.
The kit included the following activities:
- Creating a Friction Climber
- Creating da Vinci bridges
- Creating Rolling Vehicles
- Creating Catapults
- Creating My Invention
Each package had the materials needed to complete the activity and an instruction booklet (the Creator’s Guide) with additional activities and interesting facts. We did have to provide a couple of things from home like scissors and a ruler.
Most of the Creator’s Guide instructions were easy to follow and Miss J was able to complete them on her own. She did need an extra pair of hands for several things but she was able to tell me what to do in order to help her. We had a couple of times where we had to modify the plans because we could not make them work as written, such as when working on getting the catapult set up, the o ring would not hold the sides in place so we added a piece of tape to hold the sides together. Another time was in trying to put wheels on the car. The holes in the plastic wheels were not wide enough so we had to widen them a bit with a knife. While it would have been nice for these to work without needing modification of any type, it was fine to have to problem solve how to fix these minor issues.
Let’s look at each kit just a bit.
We started with Creating Rolling Vehicles. The templates were included so Miss J picked one and colored it, then cut it out. She followed the instructions for adding the axles. She got it together and had a good time sending the car back and forth across the floor. The Creator’s Guide asked her to work with push power first and had her use an elevated plane to evaluate some of the ways in which it worked. There were questions for her to consider, such as “Where does the energy come from for it to roll down the ramp?” The guide included charts to fill out when comparing things in an activity, which was nice. After a few activities, she added a balloon on a straw to the vehicle to make it powered differently. This was fun and it allowed them to talk a bit about jet engines and increasing speed.
The da Vinci bridges Creator Guide was difficult to follow. The instructions, I can imagine, were really difficult to write. We ended up having to look for a video on building a da Vinci bridge and still struggled. We did get one that could hold weight but we could not build it very big.
That was a bit disappointing and we hope to try it with larger pieces of wood. We felt like the craft sticks were just too short to use effectively. That would be a nice change for the company to make to this particular kit.
Creating Catapults was a kit that Miss J loved. She had a great time with the catapult. It was fairly easy to make using the die cut pieces in the kit. The questions guided her to consider how to increase the accuracy, precision, and distance. The Think About It sections really had her evaluating what was going on and creating and testing hypotheses. She worked hard to learn how to aim and be precise with her throws. The one thing this kit did not include that may or may not be lying around the house is a pair of safety glasses.
Creating My Invention was a fun kit that even had Miss J doing a bit of research. It discussed elevators a bit and then asked some questions. She had me look some things up for her and we talked about it. She then drew a picture of how she was going to build an elevator. Well, as is always true of inventions, the first incarnation did not work so she had to reevaluate and redesign. She eventually came up with an elevator that could lift a small doll. She was super proud of that and played with it for several days. There are plenty more materials left for her to design more inventions.
The final kit was Creating a Friction Climber. This one was super disappointing for us. Even with me reconsidering all of her work and making sure she followed all of the directions in the Creator’s Guide, we could not get this to work. We have made friction climbers before and we still could not figure out why this one will not work. Just the same, it was good for her to experience that not everything works perfectly the first (or second or third, etc.) time and sometimes you have to abandon what you are doing and just move on. We will revisit this one with a fresh attitude in a bit.
We have really loved this Middle School STEM Creator Pack (46204) for Grades 6-8. It has provided quite a few hours worth of interest and activity. She has learned a lot, worked independently and with someone else, approached some things she thought she could not do, and failed at some thing that she thought were simple. All of these are great outcomes and don’t even touch the STEM learning that occurred. Hands-on, minds-on learning is wonderful. Interested?
Pitsco Education is giving away one of each of the kits being reviewed by the Homeschool Review Crew, including one of the Middle School STEM Creator Pack. Head to their website to enter the giveaway for the Middle School Creator Pack. Want to know about some of the other kits and enter those giveaways? Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about them and find the links for the other kits being given away.
Lori, At Home.