Gifts for bright kids #2: solar science meets kid building fun

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The girls get busy creating and building

The girls get busy creating and building

I took a look at the box when we got this and thought, ‘Yikes—that looks complicated’  Cool, mind you, but complicated. My kids (and my husband) kept asking when we were going to get to play with the Physics Solar Workshop and I just avoided eye contact.

Finally, I let them at it. What transpired was an entire afternoon of all-absorbing play.

 This is a perfect toy for any kid who likes to build cool stuff.  My two older girls (10 and 7) don’t often decide to build things out of Legos or blocks all on their own, but are happy to do it if I get them started.  So, I was pretty surprised when they dug right into the box and got busy.

 After talking about some of the principals of solar physics (the manual is a great resource for this), my 10 year-old got right to work building a model from the workbook.  My 7 year-old got a basic concept of how to build a vehicle and then just had fun building her own design.  The recommended age for this is 8+.  If you want your child to work fairly independently, I’d shoot for closer to 10.  If your 8 year-old has lots of experience with this sort of building or is more tenacious then the average kid, then they may be ready for it.

 This is a well-designed set; good-sized pieces and sturdy construction.  A ton of learning potential and hours (literally) of fun.  My girls played with it for over 2 hours the first day.  The directions are well-done and a nice balance of completeness and a little room for critical thinking.  The pictures are really clear and a good size to see how the parts go together.

Real world application for solar power--snacks!

Real world application for solar power--snacks delivery!

I was AMAZED at how my 10 year-old happily stuck to it and problem-solved her way to build a vehicle.  She was so proud of herself!  She made the vehicle bring me a snack and even though the photo was slightly staged (no mom gets to sit and read a book in the middle of the day!), I loved her real-life application.



Why this toy is fun

Solar is just cool.  It’s kinda like magic to kids, so the little solar panels were a huge hit. Then, to build something that actually works was pretty awesome.  My daughter laughed in delight when her model rolled across the floor in a patch of sunlight.


Things to know

I’d shoot slightly higher then the recommended age range.  This is a great toy for a kid to gain confidence in their ability to create and problem solve, but younger then about 10 will require more coaching by a parent and less independent thinking.


Solar Physics Workshop–I stand corrected.

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