Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Thames & Kosmos Solar Mechanics

Thames & Kosmos Solar Mechanics

Fall 2012 Toys
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $32.95

Solar Mechanics is a science construction kit that lets users build several different types of solar-powered machines. It's versatile and engaging, accommodates different skill levels, and is designed to encourage repeat play. It's also educational. Sun, plus solar cells, equals mechanical energy - the wow factor is great.

Some science-themed toys fail to captivate because they're too complex or require excessive parental involvement. Thames and Cosmos' Solar Mechanics is geared toward eager young minds and hands. The pieces are well-constructed, sturdy, and there's no tweaking or troubleshooting required. All you need is sun.

You can build up to 20 different models (trucks, robots, planes) from the parts, and they're at varying skill levels to accommodate the recommended age range. The kit comes with a clearly illustrated instruction manual for constructing the models, and each model is built around the solar motor.

Our 13-year-old tester loved it. He built a robot, took it out to a dappled patch of patio at 5pm, and off it went. The motor's power is affected by its angle to the sun, shady spots, time of day and even the particular model, which allows users to conduct a number of different informal experiments.

The Solar Mechanics kit is also compatible with all other Thames and Cosmos Physics and Construction Kits.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

Share This