Recently we reviewed the K'NEX STEM Gears Set, something we saw at the London Toy Fair 2017, which involved building a simple model for kids to conduct experiments with. We're at it again, this time making fun and fast wheeled contraptions with the K'NEX STEM Vehicles Set.
Just like the Gears Set, this contains around 130 parts with a few very specific pieces aimed toward making vehicles; namely wheels, tyres, and a motors. The idea of the set is to let kids (or, you know, grown men) build several different models, each using a different way of being propelled. Unlike the Gears Set, which included a huge unique gear piece and several long rods, everything here is pretty small and compact.
But what great parts. If you already have some K'NEX and love building cars, this is the set to buy, even if you have no intention of following the included instruction booklet and making the STEM projects.There are about ten chunky tyres included, some of which fit over the round white K'NEX part to make wheels. Anyway...
Just like the other STEM set we reviewed, the instructions here are very short. The spring-motor powered trike instructions, for example, fills just two pages, so be aware that these builds, although small and simple, could still be challenging. That said, the trike, which isn't the first vehicle the instructions encourage you build, but the one we most liked the look of, took only about ten minutes.
Using a transparent motor part with a visable coiled spring, the trike is a pull-back-and-go vehicle with a complex structure. That motor provides a surprising amount of power, and on a smooth surface you can get it to go a good long way. You get two of the motors included, and we were very glad to see that more than one of the five vehicles can be made up at the same time. So we made the weirdest.
The Rolling Racer is an exceptionally simple build which uses a twisted elastic band (two are included) to generate forward force. Although it was simple, it seemed to be the most popular with the kids who helped us build; spinning it around to coil the band was a popular activity.
Also suggested in the instruction booklet (but having their instructions online only) were the other vehicle types, one of which requires a sheet of paper to make a sail. All the models look interesting and use the motors and bands in different ways to make the cars go. There were lots of questions posed in the book, for kids to get thinking about ways to improve and modify the designs (as there should be with a STEM set), but the real fun came from playing with the various creations.
Yes, you might have guessed it, but the K'NEX STEM Vehicles Set is a lot more entertaining than the Gears Set. There seems to be a greater scope for imaginative play here, and clearer ways of creating working, driving vehicles. As we said, this is a great set for the wheels and tyres alone, but the two coil motors are also very handy and could be utilised in other STEM projects, like the Gears Set.
Learning, with a far bigger emphasis on fun. Cool stuff.