Wednesday, July 2, 2014

DIY Kits from Marbles, The Brain Store: Review + Giveaway!

Marbles the Brain Store kits for trebuchet, catapult and a robotic arm
Do you know Marbles, The Brain Store? They offer a well-curated collection of games and toys that build critical thinking skills, coordination, memory, visual perception, and word skills. It's not quite a toy store, but at the same time it is. 

For brainy people of any age. 

And there's no "pink aisle." In fact, I can't think of an item or display in their store that screams- this is for boys! Or buy this for girls!

If there's a Marbles near you, go see for yourself.

I welcomed the opportunity to review their DI Wise kits, and was thrilled when they sent me all three:
I was also surprised at the positive response I got from friends and Maker Mom fans when I posted the above photo on my social feeds. Once I knew the kits, designed for ages 8 and up, passed muster, I asked the Marbles folks if I could host a giveaway.

These kits earned The Maker Mom seal of approval.

Their PR department is as smart as their customers, so they agreed. See the entry below.

The fun thing about all of these kits is that, to borrow a line from littleBits, builders make something that does something. Once they've built the item, they can play with it. They've built a really great toy! Or small weapon of mass destruction, depending upon your worldview.

Despite plans to build together, the Young Maker Teen (age 14) tackled most of these on his own while he was home sick. He's nimble and great at reading diagrams. I'm pretty much the opposite.

That said, with each of these kits there were moments when four hands were better than two. 

There were also times two brains were better than one. The directions, illustrations and text, were sometimes ambiguous, like with the sling on the trebuchet. As we tied the necessary string to each end of the sling, the directions referenced knotting "another string" when what they meant was knotting the end of one of the strings already tied to the sling.

Step 11, you kill me.

The builds take an hour or so. Each set of instructions mentions a healthy snack along with the kit supplies. The snack is a good diversion if/when things get frustrating.

In the end, we figured everything out and made a couple of mistakes along the way, though we were able to troubleshoot our way out of them. Frankly, that's part of the adventure of it all. What fun is something that's put together without any effort?

Admittedly, another part of the fun is shooting dog treats all over the family room with the catapult and trebuchet! The kits also come with clay to make DIY projectiles as well as the polymertastic Braindrops. Braindrops are nontoxic, but I still don't want Tesla eating them, so dog treats are our top choice.

robotic arm kit from marbles
Robotic Arm Kit

Projectiles are always a good time, but our favorite of the bunch is the hydraulic robotic arm kit. As with the other kits, a extra set of hands was helpful now and then. Be warned that some of the fine motor skills might present a challenge for younger kids (or arthritic adults).

The end result is really cool and the Young Maker Teen is already manipulating the syringes to run the hydraulic arm like a pro. 

Watch him in action!

Win it! This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Cara!

As I mentioned, we like the robotic arm the best? What's your pick? The folks at Marbles are letting you pick your own.

Fill out the Google Doc below to enter. Enter by 1:00 PM CST on 7/11/14. Must be 18 to enter. Retail value of prize is roughly $25.00 US dollars. Winner will be chosen at random and I will notify the winner by email. If the selected winner does not respond within 48 hours of notification, a new winner will be selected. One entry per person.

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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

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