Engineering Product & Book Reviews

Nerd Product Review: Kiwi Crate

Kiwi Crate is a art & craft kit for kids that is delivered to you every month. Each kit contains 2 art, craft or science projects and each monthly subscription has a different theme. Kiwi Crate is a art & craft kit for kids that is delivered to you every month. Each kit contains 2 art, craft or science projects and each monthly subscription has a different theme.

Like many places across the country, summer in the Washington, DC, area has been oppressively hot. Too hot to ride their bikes, too hot for trips to the zoo, even too hot for the pool.

The regular 100-degree heat index has kept us mostly confined to indoor activities. In this situation, you quickly run out of movies worthy of a $50 theater visit (by the way, The BFG and The Secret Life of Pets, are two of them).

One particularly steamy day, at the end of a week spent sweating out their liberally-applied sunscreen at soccer camp, the kids came home to find two boxes waiting for them on our doorstep.

This month’s Kiwi Crates had arrived, and not a moment too soon.

You’ve probably heard about these creative STEM learning kits before. And maybe you thought they sounded like a fun idea but haven’t yet decided to get the monthly subscription. If that’s the case, maybe this review will encourage you to take the leap.

What You’ll Love As A Nerd-Building Parent:

  1. Do-It-Yourself. These sets are completely self-contained and include everything needed to create something that will satisfy their Nerd cravings. The instructions provided – or “blueprints” – are age-appropriate and easy-to-understand. So, as long as they can read, most kids age 6 and up can do it all by themselves. A real confidence builder!
  2. A product that grows with your Nerd. There are five different kinds of Crates designed to inspire and engage Nerds and Nerds-to-be in four age ranges:Cricket Crates help “lay the foundation for lifelong learning” in kids ages 0-2Koala Crates are “for budding innovators” ages 3-4

    Kiwi Crates creative projects for ages 5-8

    Tinker Crates hands-on science, engineering and tech experiments for ages 9-16+

    Doodle Crates creative projects for ages 9-16+

  3. Quiet time while they’re engaged in fun, interactive STEM education. You’ll sit them down with their Crate, and they’ll be immersed. Whether it’s a hands-on application of engineering, chemistry or physics or some other artful innovation, they’ll be happily occupied for an hour or more. While they may not be outdoors enjoying active play, they are building and flexing their equally valuable problem solving muscles. And no sunscreen necessary!

What Your Nerd — and You — Will Love:

  1. Cool construction projects and experiments using (or making) unique materials. Your Nerd will appreciate the crazy variety of things they’ll use and transform into simple machines, useful products, and works of interactive art, including: wooden components, magnets, paint, stained glass, wheels, levers, lights that work, straws, soap, gears, rivets/fasteners, peanut butter?! You name it.Lightning McQueen, my soon-to-be-7-year-old, constructed an interactive diorama with this month’s Kiwi Crate. The undersea landscape features two goofy jellyfish she could raise and lower using a kind of plastic pulley system. That little engineering twist on what could have been an ordinary static art project is what will keep her coming back for more.
  2. Tinkering! Although each kit comes with explicit instructions/blueprints, these aren’t like LEGO, so the parts may not always fit perfectly. If a project doesn’t go quite to plan, part of the fun for your Nerd will be in finding ways to adapt it, fix it, or figure out how to make it work (or at least work to their liking). They might surprise themselves by coming up with a better or more creative solution.For this month’s Tinker Crate, my almost 9-year-old RocketteGirl assembled what was to be a rubber band-propelled dragster. Unfortunately, either the wooden axels were cut a little too wide or the wheel hubs were drilled too small. The tight-fitting components caused too much friction for the wheels to spin freely. The result was that the dragster’s rubber band drive didn’t work as intended. While this “failure” bugged me, it didn’t faze RocketteGirl in the least.“That’s OK, daddy,” she told me. “It was fun… and I still think it looks pretty cool.” I love that she enjoyed the construction process and the car’s aesthetic value even if the experiment’s results weren’t ideal.
  3. They got a package in the mail! My kids literally cheer when they see a box sitting on our doorstep. No matter who it’s for, they beg us to open it. If they see their name on the package, they lose their minds. Their reaction to seeing their respective Crates was the same expression of wonder and eagerness they get when they get the latest issue of National Geographic Kids or Little Kids.

Our Raising Nerd Ranking:

While we really love these kits, they’re not without flaws – mainly in the crafting of the individual parts packed therein. But, as mentioned, this is a minor imperfection that your Nerd will likely overlook or, more importantly, overcome. The concept is amazingly simple but well executed, especially for a monthly membership starting at just $16.95 (12 month membership). The non-threatening emphasis on STEM principles, innovative design and creative materials/builds is a win-win for parents and their Nerds. And the monthly subscription will have your Nerds excited and eager to see what cool discovery the next installment will provide.

On a scale of 1 to 5 Nerds, RocketteGirl and Lightning McQueen give Tinker/Kiwi Crate:

4.5 Nerds! 4.5 Nerds!

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