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K'NEX Education Intro To Simple Machines Wheels, Axles, & Inclined Planes Set Review by Renee Knoblauch

Basic Fun!

K'NEX Education Intro to Simple Machines Wheels, Axles, & Inclined Planes Set is a wonderful way to teach STEM concepts with some amazing projects for ages eight and up.

The construction set is designed to teach concepts involving wheels, axles, and inclined planes using a hands-on approach. While building and playing you are learning scientific concepts in everyday objects.

It is packaged in a sturdy plastic container to keep the materials together for storing and transporting. The storage bin locks with a snap-on system that will not easily open. All the pieces easily fit into the bin for quick clean up. The container is stackable if you have more than one set.

There are two-hundred and twenty-one pieces in the K'NEX Education Intro to Simple Machines Wheels, Axles, & Inclined Planes Set. Every rod and connector are made of heavy-duty plastic. The parts are colored-coded by shape and color. The product is made in the USA.

The set comes with a full-colored Educational Guide that has everything you need for building each of the seven models. The seven models in this set include well, paddleboat, steering wheel, steep ramp, long ramp, splitting wedge, and a hand drill. Each project has a color-coded key for each project that shows which parts you will need to complete the model. You can only build one model at a time. The steps are numbered and some steps that may need a bit more explanation will have arrows that show you where to connect the pieces or direction of placement. If the arrow is faded it is an indication that section has already been built. With the guide being full-colored it is easy to see where each piece goes to complete the project. Each project has a brief learning concept explaining a certain aspect of the project. For example, your well model focuses on the axle and wheel concept and explains some fundamental concepts that pertain to the model. Most kids should be able to build the models independently without any parental help.

You can also go online and download a Teacher’s Guide through the K’NEX website. This guide provides an objective for each project unit. It also covers key terms and definitions of the vocabulary used in each unit. In one unit the concepts such as forces, resistance, and friction are taught. Each unit is scripted with activities outside of building the models. The entire lessons include background information, scientific methods enforcement, and step-by-step instructions. All the activities are easy to implement with one student even with it being set up for a classroom. This guide would work well in a homeschool co-op class. The units are around thirty to forty-five minutes depending on how much depth you go into it. Several other optional activities can be added.

The Teacher’s Guide recommends students have journals for writing down what they think will happen and how it is applied to real-world machines in everyday life. The journal also serves as an assessment for evaluation comprehension.

My fourteen-year-old son was excited trying out K’NEX for the first time. He has used several different building systems throughout the years but, we have somehow never explored K’NEX before this.

My son built the well and the steering wheel the first day we received the set. He was thrilled to see that the well works and had fun experimenting with lifting different objects in it. You could see all the moving parts in the car when you worked the steering wheel. My son built all seven models by the end of the week. He has created his own simple machines with the set also. This has been a great end of the year project to end his science course with. I plan to add more K’NEX to his school next year. Especially the architecture sets for his drafting course.

The only obstacle that was different for him at first was snapping the gears into place and removing pieces. They are tough and like to stay in place. After a few times getting used to the snapping system he had it mastered. Younger kids might need a bit of help with the snapping concept at first. The completed sets are sturdy once they are built.

I downloaded the Teacher’s Guide online and printed it to keep in the bin. I was not aware of this resource until after my son built all the models. I did not see it mentioned on the bin or in the Educational Guide. It enhances the STEM concepts and is very comprehensive. I like that it has concise goals being taught. This is truly where your STEM learning is enhanced.

There are several other building sets available from a bridge, roller coaster, DNA replica, and other kits that my son has his eyes set on.

One of our family’s favorite quotes that we try to incorporate in our homeschool and everyday life with our kids is:  “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; Involve me and I’ll learn.”  K'NEX Education Intro to Simple Machines Wheels, Axles, & Inclined Planes Set
Basic Fun! incorporates that concept in our homeschool.

-Product review by Renee Knoblauch, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2020