Sunday 29 September 2013

Product Review - Thames and Kosmos Solar Boat

Thames and Kosmos
Solar Boat

We were sent this product free of charge to review, however all opinions expressed are entirely my own (or that of my kids).

Meet the Testers:

This product was mainly tested by Ben who is almost 5 years old with assistance from his scientifically challenged mummy and inquisitive younger brother, Noah (2 years old).

Unfortunately we don't have any scientist coats in our house but the boys did don their doctors become scientists for the morning.

Meet the Creators:

Thames & Kosmos (T&K) was founded in 2001, with the mission of improving informal science education by publishing high-quality science and technology related educational products for children of all ages. 

Thames & Kosmos currently offers more than 60 science kits in thirteen categories: Chemistry, Physics, Alternative Energy & Environmental Science, Technology & Electronics, Biology, Earth Science & Natural History, Fun & Fundamentals, Astronomy, Classic Science, Little Labs, Ignition Series, Sophisticated Science, and Construction Series.

Meet the Product:

The Set we were sent for review was a Solar Boat........ but this is not just any old boat, by taking it apart and re-building you can also make a windmill, airplane, spaceship, fan, or rocket.

The set is aimed at children 8 years +, however Ben loves his Lego and as the build concept is similar he was quickly following the instructions to make the more simple models (windmill, fan, rocket) by himself.

Noah was also easily able to put the blue joining pins into the main white body parts.

What's in the Box?

The set comes with a well written and illustrated 32-page colour manual showing not only HOW to put the kit together to make the various models but also background information on Solar Power and ideas for making your crafts move by using the nylon (provided).

40 various building pieces including a solar panel/ battery motor and a fan/ propeller.

1 tool for taking the models apart.

How easy is it to build?

Using the little yellow tool.
Initially the instructions looked daunting (and that's as a mummy), however when you take it step by step using the pictures the models go together really easily.  Taking them to bits is easy too with the little yellow tool (unless you get a stubborn blue connecting piece that kept falling back into the hole).
here you can see how the blue
and grey bits join together.

The grey rubber bits took some getting used to as you fix them onto very think blue plastic but after a few attempts both boys were able to manage it easily.

Thankfully with the great British weather the models are not entirely reliant on solar power and you can use an AAA battery (not supplied) as back up.

Completed Boat

SO Boat built and paddling pool filled it was off to try it out.  And watch it slowy move around the water.  

It worked, and even better - it went in a straight line!

Sailing on the water

The boat capsized a couple of times as 2 over-enthusastic boys tried to turn it around but the battery compartment stayed water-tight.

Returning to the house we dismntled the boat and proceeded to build the plane. 

This was equally as easy to build, the only disapointment for the boys was that it was too heavy to actually fly and quickly got dismantled again.


At this point Noah deserted us in favour of splashing in the water (rather him than me..... it was freezing!), I left Ben to see how well he could do.

Windmill/ Fan

He flicked through the book and within 15 minutes had made the windmill, he just needed some re-assurance that he had put the white bits together correctly.

Trying to blow the paper.
I thought this would be a great way to show Ben the power of wind for moving things (other then the built object)  and gave him some ripped paper to hold in front of the fan.  Sadly the fan did not produce enough draft to make the paper move unless it was virtually touching it.

Ben was loving this set, I haven't seen him so absorbed in something 'educational' (I'm reluctant to call it a toy) for ages.

The Windmill/ Fan dismantled he went on to make the rocket and spaceship.  (pics to follow as I forgot to take any)

According to the booklet by using the clear plastic tubes and the 'string' supplied you can make the rocket fly between 2 chairs....... we spent half an hour trying to make this work but failed miserably.

With promises of Daddy helping when he got in from work as he is more technically minded then me Ben put the set away.
Sadly, although Daddy loved the set, he couldn't make the rocket move either.   It did however teach Ben a valuable lesson in science which is that it is all about experiments and that things don't always work first time and they will keep trying in the week to see if they can make it work.

We were fortunate during the day to catch 5 minutes of sunshine so I was able to connect the fan to the motor and show the boys how it turned using just the sun......... they were really impressed.

Our Verdict

As an educational tool on Solar Power this is a brilliant idea for all children.  It also develops younger children's fine motor and problem solving skills.
It should definitely be introduced earlier then 8 years old as children acquire knowledge from a very early age and as my boys have shown even Noah (at 2 years old) was able to participate and learn.

I will certainly be looking out for the other sets in the range, especially the water power ones as if my boys like anything more then building items - it's getting wet!!!

This Hydopower set looks fantastic 

Other Products by the same company

I have loved looking at the ideas on their website and have come up with a few other products I think my boys and me would love, and hope you will too.
Candy Chemistry - link
Forensics Fingerprint Lab - linky
Botany Greenhouse Kit - linky

Volcanoes & Earthquakes - linky

Ways to contact Thames and Kosmos

1 comment:

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