Our robotic kingii dragon (Chlamydosaurus kingii, or frilled-neck lizard) is better than a puppy because you don't have clean up after it and it won't chew the furniture. This kit has (2) motors and digital control via IR sensors to activate LED eyes, motorized mouth and pop-out frill, plus "escape" and "approach me" modes, which retreat and make nice, respectively. You'll need (4) "AAA" batteries and some patience, as this kit is delightfully challenging. Finished dragon will be 13-1/2" long x 8-1/4" x 5". For ages 10+. Check out our short video on Youtube!
Physics faculty alert: It's very small, but teaches a powerful lesson, this little diamagnetic-properties demo kit. You get (4) plated magnets, each 1/4" square x 3/32", and (2) 1/4" square pieces of graphite to float above them. The graphite may have slight chips along the edge but that won't affect the effect. Includes instructions/fact sheet.
Home robotics, bubeleh. Build a working hydraulic arm with this excellent 66-piece kit from Pathfinders' Simple Machine series. Structure is die-cut plywood and the kit includes tubing, (3) syringes and glue. You'll need a ruler and scissors. The finished arm will be approx 13-1/2" tall and will reach out over 16" and rotate 90° on an 8-5/8' x 6-7/8" base. Comes with a 12-page manual and uses water. Beautiful, too. For ages 8+.
The Tumbling Robot Experiment is relatively easy to assemble and has sensors in his (her?) belly, back and legs so he (it?) can fall and get up again, like some of us humans. At 8" tall, in between tumbles, it's a manic, sliding, chomping, swinging thingy, like a droid cookie monster in a Pilates class. You put a pair of "AA"s in his feet.
Everything you need to build a little DC motor is included in this kit (except sandpaper, screwdriver, scissors and, of course, an AA battery). The instructions are simple and explain the theory as well as assembly. Fun and educational.
For the steady-handed model-maker. These mini-models from Metal Earth® are demanding and beautiful. Use a tweezers to punch out the little pieces from the laser-cut shiny steel sheets, and assemble them using the tabs and slots--no glue, no screws. You pick the Hubble Telescope (3” x 2” x 2-1/2”), the U.S.S. Arizona (5-3/4” long) or the 1908 Ford Model T (3-1/2” x 1-7/8” x 1-3/4”). All include instructions, which you’ll need. For ages 14+.
Based on drawings from Da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus, this Pathfinders catapult kit uses a pair of bent wooden arms as springs to launch clay balls (included) over (4) meters at enemy fortifications (not included, go make your own enemies). The assembled model will be approx 9" tall on a 10" x 7-1/4" base. Made from pre-cut, untreated wood from sustainable forests, and built with pegs for added strength and verisimilitude. A 2013 Creative Child Magazine Top Toy of the Year Winner and a great resource for STEM activities. For ages 12 and up.
We spit on plastic. And so will you when you see these laser-cut bright steel models from Fascinations®. Snap-together pieces. The models are small, but worthy of permanent display, and designed for the grown-ups to assemble and display, rather than the kids to play with. You pick the Metal Marvels™ 3-1/2” long x 2-3/4” wide space shuttle Atlantis. (They aren’t making any more big shuttles, Pilgrim.) Or the 4-1/2” tall x 1-3/4” wide at the base MetalWorks™ Eiffel Tower.
From Fascinations®, these small model kits are made from intricately laser-cut polished steel. Punch the pieces out from the 4-1/4" square sheet and put them together with the tiny tabs. You pick the dragonfly, with a 4-1/2" wingspan; the Black Pearl pirate ship, approx 3-1/2" long; or the Mars rover which will have about a 2-1/2" wheelbase. For ages 14+, because they take plenty of small motor skills.
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In addition to this fabulous on-line catalog of incredible stuff, American Science & Surplus has three great retail locations. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by! Store hours may vary. Feel free to call for store hours and directions.