Solar Power – Photovoltaic Energized Vehicles by Thames & Kosmos
As a ten-year old boy with extensive experience putting together advanced Lego sets, I naturally went through my three step building process with this experiment kit. First, organize the pieces. This set only had 177 pieces, but I had to organize all the pieces myself. Next, build your model. The directions for each model were only 2 pages of pictures, which included a list of parts needed for each model. Although only 7-10 steps were listed for each model, it took about 2-3 hours for the first model, but then only about an hour for the next model. The third and final step is double-checking everything and making sure that every piece is in its proper place.
I built the Single-Prop Plane first and then moved on to the Steam Locomotive. Both models worked when fully assembled. You need to disassemble one model to make another. One neat aspect of this set is that you can replace the solar panels with standard AA batteries so that your creation will move even at night or in the dark (without sunlight). The 4 other models that can be built with this experiment set are Bulldozer, Backhoe, Helicopter, and Twin-Prop Helicopter. There are 24 pages in the color manual, which includes historical details about each model. The pictures used with each step could be improved by making them larger. The manual also highlights different aspects about solar power.
The models move very slowly, so if you are looking for a toy that you build yourself that moves quickly, you will be disappointed. However, I believe that ages 10+ might like this type of set. Each of the models moves with solar power, but not all the expected parts move. For example, the Backhoe does not scoop, it only moves forward.
This kit requires a LOT of patience and also a close inspection after building. This is because sometimes the wires don’t completely connect, and often you will have to restart a part of the directions because of the placement of the pieces. Overall, I would recommend this experiment kit for kids that like building.