Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Making Do: A Toy Review

I recently returned from the National Science Teacher's Association STEM Expo in Atlantic City. Of course, one of the best parts of any convention is the exhibitor's room. Aisles and aisles of fun new products, services, computer programs and books to buy. And swag. Never forget swag.

One item I picked up was a tube of Makedo. It's a "reusable system for creating things from stuff around you." Basically there are these plastic blue "pins" and "clips" that easily join together to connect paper, cardboard, foamboard, fabric, whatever. If you want to disconnect those pieces, you squeeze the clip and take it apart. Easy peasy. There are also joints that you can use to make angles and moving parts. The kit came with a safe saw and punch tool, to help prepare cardboard for being attached.

My interest is in having a simple, reusable system that the kids in my classes could use to build, basically anything. Which meant it was time for my product-testing daughters to give it a whirl.

We dragged out an old pizza box and some paper towel tubes and set to work. I can say that the pins and clips were easy to use. Even Gwen (6 years old) could use them. same goes for the hinges. Both girls had trouble with the safe saw. I think it likely works better for thicker corrugated cardboard than we had. The punch was also tough for them to use. Again this may be a materials issue. In the end, we found a pair of scissors and a standard hole punch were effective.

I didn't show the girls the product insert or video.I just demonstrated how to use the toy. Given free reign, both girls set to making robots. Gwen worked with me to make a root bird. Caitie (8 years old) went for something more traditional. As we were wrapping up, Gwen swooped about with her bird saying, "Look Mommy, I'm being creative!" (I love kindergartners!) Caitie however was on to planning her next project: a car. But only after she takes some time to decorate her robot so that he can visit school with her in the morning.

(Yeah, I know. I don't usually do product reviews. But I found so many neato things at the Expo, I wanted to share some. I have not received any compensation for this review.)

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