Travis latest crate from Kiwi Co. focused on the science of air, using a game of homemade air hockey to illustrate that air has matter, weight, can push things around, and more. This kit earns high marks for both the Science and Art components of the STEAM acronym.
First, we made the various parts of Balloon-Powered Air Hockey. The mallets are a simple matter of attaching felt to the bottom of provided cardboard circles, with a foam donut on top as the handle.
The puck was a touch complicated to rig together, with a balloon stretched over a tube on top of a smooth clear disk. There is a hole to insert the provided air pump and inflate the balloon. Travis loved doing this and wanted to practice over and over, before we even set it down on a table.
Once on a table, the air is released from the balloon, which then propels the disk forward.
To make Spray-Art Scoreboards, we again needed to use the crate’s air pump. Now, it attaches to the lid of the Kiwi Crate (or any shoebox) with a sticky foam piece. Attach a provided ink marker just below where the air will come out.
We then affixed number stencils to the paper on the provided scorecard pads. When you squeeze the air pump (hard!), it blows on the marker so forcefully that ink sprays down onto the paper around the stencil.
This had definite wow factor. You do need to pump the air quite hard, so some grown-up assistance was required. Repeat until you’ve covered all the scorecards, then remove the number stencils.
Now it was time play! We rigged our regular table into an air hickey table which form the alleyways on either side that will stop the puck from flying off sideways.
Pump up the balloon and play!
I do have a few small quibbles with this crate. It comes with two balloons, but both had an air leak after only one round of air hockey. Also, because the balloon puck lasts under a minute each time you inflate it, you really can’t get into a rhythm of playing the game.
But in terms of illustrating the science of air, it made its point. And my 6 year old liked beating mommy at the game!
We turned to the Explore magazine for a few final experiments. First up was an oldie-but-goodie (a Coat Hanger Balance), that gives an easy visualization that air has weight. Attach two balloons to either end of a hanger, one inflated and one not. Suspend the hanger from a pencil and notice the slight tilt.
Then we made a Marshmallow Squasher! Add mini marshmallows to an empty plastic water bottle until it is about half full. Insert the air pump into the bottle, sealing around the top of the bottle with play dough so no air can escape.
Hold the play dough firmly with one hand and squeeze the pump with the other… and watch the marshmallows squish down!