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Electric Motors Catalyst Kit Review by Holly Johnson

Tinkering Labs

Batteries not included?  Not with this kit!  The Electric Motors Catalyst Kit comes with _everything_ your child will need to build an engine and complete the accompanying challenges.  The company’s motto is “Challenges, not Instructions,” and the kit reflects that.  It does come with a short instruction booklet, but that just provides the step-by-step instructions for building the basic (and most integral) part of the kit, which is necessary for completing all of the challenges.  It also includes assistance for some of the first challenges, to help your child get his or her footing.

The kit is designed to introduce kids to electronics, allowing them to experiment with circuits and electricity by using the components to build pieces by themselves.  They can then use these to make robotics, electric cars, or couple them with Legos for Lego robotic fun.  I love how engaging the kit is because it kept my kids happy, entertained, and learning for a few full summer days without any concern to the lack of screen time.

Both my 10 and 14-year-old boys enjoyed putting this together, and while it was challenging, it was not overwhelmingly so.  I felt like they learned a bit while doing something they enjoyed.  On the occasion that they got stuck, I simply directed them to the videos (located on the company website) for visual assistance.

The kit is easy to put together and use; at its most basic, it is a wood frame that is held together by rubber bands and screws.  You connect the motors to the wheels and frame, and then connect the battery box to the motors to build the basic robot component.

All ten challenges in the kit use the same pieces, so after completing a challenge, you must dissemble the robot to create a new one.  This was probably my kids’ least favorite part about it, as they like saving their creations.  Some of the first, and easiest, challenges include using the robot to make curvy lines, driving with a suspension system, and powering a catapult to toss a wheel across the room.

With more than fifty pieces in the kit, including safety gear, wooden cutouts, all of the necessary metal hardware, extra challenge cards, and even batteries, you can literally give this to a child who can ‘open and go,’ without needing any other supplies or assistance.  (Younger children may need assistance, depending on their reading level.)  It would make an excellent birthday or Christmas gift for curious or STEM-oriented children!

-Product review by Holly Johnson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August, 2018