K’nex has always been a very much loved construction toy in our house so I was thrilled to read about their brand new STEAM range.
K’nex Education sets are perfect for maximising engagement both at home and in a busy classroom. Although we have only tried the sets at home I can fully imagine what an exciting, engaging and inspiring lesson they would make when used in a school. Each product in the K’nex Education range comes with a full teacher’s guide, including lesson plan and follow up ideas. They even have easy to follow colour coded instructions allowing teachers to direct pupils to work independently or in groups.
STEM Explorations: Swing Ride Building Set
The swing ride is just one of three models that can be built with this set. It comes complete with three fun experiments (one for each model), a battery-powered motor and more than 470 K’NEX parts and pieces.
My 10 year old thoroughly enjoyed the swing ride and was thrilled when it worked with the motor. He didn’t need any help with the actual building and managed to work his way through the first experiment with just a little help.
How does mass affect speed?
The first task in this investigation was to calculate the distance travelled by one of the seats during a complete revolution. This is the circumference of the circle travelled.
Zak held out one seat parallel to the ground and measured the distance from the centre of the ride to the seat. This gave him the radius of the circle, which allowed us to calculate the circumference.
Circumference = 2π r
He then timed how long it took for the ride to complete 5 revolutions. We placed a piece of tape on one seat then timed how long that seat took to complete a 5 revolutions. We could then use the formula v = d/t to find the speed of the ride, where:
v = speed/velocity
d = distance
t = time
This was a brilliant first introduction to this type of formula for Zak who hadn’t come across them before.
We then added a little weight to one of the seats and repeated the investigation.
We were very excited to find a real life example at Paulton’s Park recently.
STEM Explorations: Vehicles
The STEM Explorations Vehicles set can create seven different builds, each exploring a different type of vehicle. The set includes a spring motor allowing you to experiment with energy transfer, velocity and acceleration.
We’ll be telling you more about this set soon, but do check out the other K’Nex Education sets in the meantime.
What did we think?
We love K’Nex as a construction toy anyway, and often use it as part of our investigations, but I really enjoyed working through the swing ride experiments with Zak. It was a wonderful way to spend time together, working through a problem and led to lots of discussion about how the same concepts related to real life situations.