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

Remote Control Machines: Space Explorers

Remote Control Machines: Space Explorers

Fall 2015 Toys
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $99.95

Remote Control Machines: Space Explorers is a building kit, with bars, wheels, gears, axels arms and other connection pieces. The instructions offer several different machine to build, at three levels of difficulty. The step-by-step manual is detailed, easy to follow, and incredibly visual. After each set of instructions, the booklet offers a beautiful article on the 'real' versions of the machine... what it looks like and how it is used. It also shares powerful discussion and reflection prompts to help the kids think through what they did.

For example, our 11 year old (an experienced Lego guy) built the space shuttle arm in about 45 minutes. He worked steadily on it, occasionally feeling frustrated when he did a small part wrong, and then had to fix his mistake (a wonderful learning experience). I joined him at the kitchen table as he plugged in the machine to the battery pack, and used the buttons on the remote control to move the remote control arm up and down, and make it spin around. Both of our mouths dropped in wonder, and immediately ran into the other room to share with everyone else. After building it himself, he was then motivated to understand how a shuttle arm works, and how it is used when attached to the space shuttle. The stellar instructional booklet not only answered those questions but prompted him to think more about what he created. A wonderfully rich learning experience.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

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