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Creation Crate Review by Jennifer Ladewig

https://www.creationcrate.com

Creation Crate is an online based monthly engineering and electronics STEM project subscription service. You will receive a box approximately every 30 days with projects to build. Each box contains a project that teaches the student in areas of one or more of the following: electronics, engineering, programming, coding, and high-level problem solving. There are three subscription options to choose from which include; Creation Crate Junior Engineering Ages 8+, Creation Crate Standard Electronics and Programming Ages 12-99, and Girls That Make Wearable Electronics Ages 12-99. There is also a Creation Crate Classroom Kit available. There are multiple subscription options to fit your budget. You can choose to get a month by month subscription for $29.99 + shipping. A three-month subscription is $26.99 per month (prepaid) + shipping. A six-month per month subscription is $25.49 per month (prepaid) +shipping. And, the best value is their twelve-month subscription which is $22.49 per month (prepaid) + shipping.

Creation Crate’s curricula are all STEM based. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These Creation Crates can be used at home, in a co-op setting, or a school setting. Depending on the kit purchased will depend on the age or grade level of the child’s ability to complete the project. The junior kit is recommended for age 8+ which is approximately 3rd grade and above. This is the youngest recommended age for the Creation Crate products. Students interested in electronics and engineering will definitely be drawn to the projects created by Creation Crate.

The Creation Crate Standard Electronics 1.0 Program is made up of 18 projects which include:

  • Mood Lamp
  • Memory Game
  • Distance Detector
  • LED Dice Game
  • Optical Theremin
  • 2-Player Reflex Game
  • Weather Station
  • Audio Visualizer
  • Lock Box
  • Digital Multimeter
  • Handheld Balance Game
  • Strength Gauge
  • Infrared Security System
  • Wireless Control Center
  • Laser Trip Wire

 

The upgraded Electronics 2.0 curriculum is made up of 12 kits and includes:

  • Mood Lamp 2.0
  • Clock
  • Rover Bot
  • Boom Box
  • Weather Station 2.0
  • Alarm Clock
  • Line Bot
  • Visual Boom Box
  • Wind Weather Station
  • Puzzle Box
  • Remote Bot
  • Boom Box Radio

 

The first month we reviewed the Mood Lamp Redux 2.0. The crate contained an UNO R3 microcontroller which you use to program or power project, the components needed to make the product, and an instruction booklet. What is unique is the box that everything comes in is used for the project. The instructional book is broken down into easy to follow steps which

include:

  1. Introduction: What are we creating?
  2. Parts List
  3. What will we learn making this project?
  4. Electronic basics
  5. Hardware assembly
  6. Programming basics
  7. Program
  8. Troubleshooting
  9. Monthly challenge Exercises

 

My three daughters ages 16, 12, and 10 put this Mood Lamp together. They had no prior experience with electrical systems at all before putting this together. In the introduction there was a helpful parts list with pictures of all of the parts and their names. The materials needed were also listed with pictures. A colored sketch of the final project was given so that they could see what they would be creating. In the learning section unfamiliar terms such as “microcontroller”, “breadboard”, and “resistor” are defined so that the student knows what the components actually do. In the hardware assembly section students are taken step-by-step through the process of building the Mood Lamp. Along the way my daughters got confused and stumped a couple of times and were able to go to the troubleshooting section to figure out what they were doing wrong. By far the most challenging part was the coding section. My daughters have NEVER coded before, and this part was very intimidating to them. For each project there is a support page site given at the end of the booklet with a unique password if students really get stuck and need help. With a bit of help from me we were able to successfully able to create their first every STEM Creation Crate Project!

My daughters said, “We were really excited to put the Mood Lamp together. It was much harder that we thought it would be because of the coding. We would have liked the project a lot more if it didn’t have the coding part. The Mood Lamp is so cool.”

The second month we received for review the Clock which is from the 2.0 level. I gave this to my 17-year-old son to do. I thought this was perfect for him to assemble since he is IMPOSSIBLE to get up in the morning, LOL. He already has multiple alarm clocks to help him get up in the morning so why not add one more! My son loves putting things together and taking things apart. Similar to the Mood Lamp, all Creation Crate projects come with an UNO R3 microcontroller board, the components to put the project together, and the instructional booklet. The table of contents is similar to the previous project. This project is building a 7-segment LED display and a digital timing chip. The booklet contents include:

  1. Introduction: What are we creating?
  2. Parts list
  3. What will we be learning this project?
  4. New electronic components
  5. New libraries
  6. Hardware assembly
  7. New coding commands/concepts
  8. Writing the code
  9. Troubleshooting
  10. Monthly challenge
  11. Exercises

 

It is suggested that before the student begin this project that they, depending on their level of experience with electronics, coding, and hardware that they watch a few online lessons that Creation Crate has online for students to watch. Links are included in the instruction booklet. Throughout the booklet color pictures of the part pieces are pictured as well as detailed step-by-step instructions and diagrams to help the student. All Creation Crate projects will utilize the box that the components come in. Love the fact that there is no waste. For students who have no experience with coding, Creation Crate has a video in their Online Classroom to help get the student started. And again, there is a great troubleshooting section that the student is able to reference in case they come across issues along the way as they are putting the project together. At the end of the booklet there is a page entitled “Exercises” which has the student tweaking the project and then giving feedback and responses as to what happens. Hints are given. The Monthly Challenge requires students to figure out how to manipulate the final project to do something that hasn’t been shown via the instructions how to do. For example, for the clock the challenge is to make the clock display times in two different time zones. A hint is given. Students can share their pictures and answers with the Creation Crate Community on Facebook and Instagram.

My son said, “This kit was cool. I enjoyed the challenge of building the clock and coding.”

I was quite impressed with the two Creation Crates that we have reviewed so far. My children have enjoyed the challenge of putting together the projects. I would most definitely recommend these crate kits to others. The quality of the project material exceeds that of some of the other crate companies that I have reviewed or purchased before.

The only drawback that I see is that a student definitely has to be willing to learn how to code in order to assemble these projects. If your child is looking for a fun project to just put together the Standard Electronic and Programming Crates are not going to be a good fit for your kiddo. With that said Creation Crate does have their Jr. Crates and their Girls That Make Wearable Electronics Crates Available.

Creation Crates are a great way to bring STEM based science into your home, co-op, or school. Check out their full line of products online at www.creationcrate.com. Creation Crate is ready to set you up to introduce your child to electronics, coding, and high-level problem solving through their subscription box crates.

 

-Jennifer Ladewig, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2018

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