Many STEM-based subscription boxes that I’ve seen have been targeted toward younger kids, getting them excited about STEM subjects early. This is a very good thing, of course. But what about older kids and teens?
Oftentimes, these older kids get the short end of the stick when it comes to apps, games, and subscription boxes. Many companies put their energy toward the youngest of kids, getting them hooked early on science, literacy, and programming. Again, this is great. But there ends up being fewer choices for older kids who aren’t quite ready for grown-up-level hobbies. Thus, I was really happy to learn about Creation Crate, a subscription box service aimed at ages 12 and up, focusing on self-contained electronics projects.
Creation Crate includes both the hardware of electronics and the programming aspect. Each monthly delivery comes in a sturdy box with all of the components wrapped carefully in bubble wrap. Because of the programming required, you will also need a computer or laptop to download and use the Arduino software. The intended age range is accurate, I would say, especially if kids have electronics-building experience (or a parent nearby). The projects start relatively simple and get harder as you go through the boxes.
The included instruction pamphlet helps you through hardware setup, programming instruction, common errors, and exercises. You also will be able to access a project support page on their website. The set comes with a few extra parts, too, in case anything goes wrong or missing. The only negatives I found were very small diagrams (good eyesight or reading glasses can be helpful), and the instructions for downloading the software missed the crucial step of installing the software before you run it. Most people know to do that, but it should still be included in the directions.
The Creation Crate that we received was the “Mood Lamp” project-in-a-box: a fun choice. My daughter (age 14) did the heavy lifting of the project, carefully assembling it, but I typed in the code for her. It was my first time programming any sort of electronics with actual software code, as opposed to just circuits, so that was really fun to be a part of. It makes me interested in trying some Arduino projects myself!
Once we uploaded the code to the electronics, we waited. And waited. It didn’t work. Because things rarely work perfectly the first time. But after a quick re-study of the setup diagrams, we noticed a couple of tiny connecting wires missing from our setup. So, we popped those in and voila. It worked! A mood lamp, with ever-changing red, blue, and green LEDs. It was fun to watch the colors gradually and independently change brightness. My daughter, apparently the expert in this, told me that there are available attachments to the circuit board to power it by battery. Nice.
Though the kits say that no experience is required, I found that it was helpful to have previous knowledge for context. The instruction pamphlet that comes with the box is pretty small and doesn’t go into detail about how breadboards are designed. Having had a couple of electrical engineering classes in school helped me double-check my daughter’s breadboard setup and to troubleshoot the problems.
The Creation Crate subscription box is a wonderful gift or project for any kid (or adult) wanting to learn more about electrical engineering and electronics. More sophisticated than something like Snap Circuits, learning with these kits will help lay a foundation for future study.
If you have a budding Arduino or electronics master in your house, try Creation Crate to encourage your kids’ interests. Like other subscription boxes, Creation Crate has several subscription options: one month, three months, six months, and twelve months, each at a different price. Readers of GeekMom get 10% off your first box using the code “GEEKMOM.”
Note: I received a box for review purposes.