My son Cedar and I have been hard at work with a cool toy that will make a pretty great gift for green kiddos for the holiday season – Thames & Kosmos Green Power House – a Discovery Store toy. However, this kit is not so much a toy as a full on model home and eco-experiments activity project. There’s a lot to this activity kit so before I review what we thought, I’m going to cover the basics about the kit; what’s included, how it looks, and so on.
Power House provides an introduction for kids and /or adults to sustainable energy sources and teaches basic concepts and principles in physical science. Using the kit will teach you about how to use heat and light energy from the sun, wind power, and electrochemical and plant energy.
The Power House kit allows you to build a model house complete with solar panels, windmill, greenhouse, and desalination system. The experiments were developed by physicist Uwe Wandrey so they’re actual working projects and experiments. There are plenty of easy-to-follow activities included in a 96-page full color manual that highlights 70 experiments and 20 building projects, organized into the following nine chapters:
- The Heat Trap: Construct and experiment with a greenhouse.
- The Sun Collector: Collect the sun’s rays to heat water.
- The Sun Burners: Make a solar cooker while learning about the principles of light before you cook rice and bake bread.
- The Water Vampire: Desalinate water, plant watercress, produce sauerkraut and make chewing gum.
- The Heat Absorbers: Learn how heat of evaporation provides cooling, conduct experiments about air humidity, build a hygrometer and test a refrigerator.
- Power Plants: Grow beans, make a potted plant feed a candle, harvest sunflower energy, build an oil press, and assemble an oil lamp.
- The Energy Converters: Extract electric current from sunlight and metals in acid, build a light telephone, galvanize a nail and split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
- The Forces of Magnetism: Generate electric current with magnetic fields. Build a current indicator, electric and solar motors, a transfer switch, and a crane. Lift pencils with the sun and learn about levers. Build an electric car.
- Wings in the Wind: Build a sail car and learn how wings and sails transform energy. Learn to sail with the wind, by the wind, and against the wind and examine a mixed energy vehicle.
The kit contains: foam house and plastic greenhouse parts • frame • base • wood glue • solar panel • compass • wire • LED (light emitting diode) • battery holder • small light bulb and holder • solar motor • magnifying glass • propellers, iron core • ring magnet • thermometer • test tube holder • measuring beaker • sand paper • copper foil • zinc plate • wire mesh • many small parts such as paper clips • screws • clips • lead sinker • washers • wing nuts • iron powder • wires • tubing • rubber bands • yarn • wooden components • cutouts for devices • and full-color, illustrated 96 page Experiment Manual with 70 experiments and 20 building activities.
Homeschoolers, folks interested in realistic green home model building, people interested in learning more about sustainable living and green energy, schools, or folks who like to do science experiments would all find this kit interesting and useful. It would also make an excellent green holiday gift this season.
Power House is for ages 12+ but I’ve been working on it with my son Cedar who is 8 1/2. Cedar loves to build and he loves eco-topics so this is the perfect toy for him, even though he’s a little young. When he saw the kit he almost exploded with excitement and so far he’s been having a great time with it.