Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pitsco Medieval Machines Homeschool Pack

Medieval Machines Homeschool Pack

As a family with a strong male population, those of that persuasion love anything that can be used as a weapon, so I was SO excited to get the opportunity to review the Medieval Machines Homeschool Pack. I mean, WHO would not LOVE to hurl objects across a room and what MOM would not LOVE to have that activity be a learning opportunity to boot…

We received the Medieval Machines Homeschool Pack which includes a catapult, a trebuchet, mass plates, and a Siege Machines book. Not included in the pack, we also received a package of Kleen Klay to use as objects of “mass destruction”.

So I set two of my older boys on the task of constructing these machines. First was the catapult…The boys put it together in a short period of time quite easily…the pieces were easy to pop out and went together nicely after a small bit of trouble finding the right glue for the project. We think wood glue would have been the best option for us, but did not have any, so we tried a craft glue and that did not work for us…might be that it just needed longer to dry…but we all know how patient some people can be…so we moved to super glue…not a problem after that, but if you do something wrong…good luck trying to fix it! Thankfully we did not have that problem! We did have one small piece that broke…it was the trigger for the catapult, but it still works just fine without it. It snapped when other pieces were being put in…which means that some care is needed when constructing these machines. The pieces are a punchout basswood making it easy to construct, but again some care is needed. After the catapult was done, the clay boulders began to fly…and EVERYONE was quite pleased to be a part of the battle…imagine what would happen if we had 5 or 6 of these! The Siege Machines book then gives several suggestions for those learning opportunities I was talking about. One measures mass vs. distance, one that gives practice in converting our standard system of measuring into metric, practice in finding averages, a lesson on elasticity, and testing different rubber bands…I will not share our results to the experiments we did so that you can explore and discover without any bias…there are many variables that can affect the results, so have FUN with that part!

Next was the Trebuchet and we had a little more difficulty with this machine. The construction was still easy, but we had some difficulty getting the machine to work…so we went back to the drawing board and tried again…noting what others said was helpful to them and reviewing the directions again. When the directions were ACTUALLY FOLLOWED, there was SUCCESS…hmmm…well once again the boys had fun flinging things through the air with the greatest of ease…and activities mentioned in the Siege Machines book again deal with math and science related topics both to grasp how the math and science we learn applies to the REAL WORLD and to get practice using the machine.

The Siege Machines book covers a WIDE range of information in it and I think is a wonderful resource to have. It talks about the history of siege machines, gives activities to use with the machines that cover math and science and has a section that gives the standards addressed by these activities. The stardards listed are from three national education organizations: The National Science Teachers Association (NTSA), the International Technology Education Association (ITEA) and National Council of Teachers of Math (NCTM) which I will confess was much like reading an upper math book in my opinion…There was VERY LITTLE comprehension for this math /science reluctant mom…I really enjoyed the history part of the book though…really shows my preferences! The back of the book makes some suggestions for books/videos and websites if your children really want to TAKE off on this subject and make a HUGE UNIT study from it. I wish we would have had this during our Medieval study in would have been a PERFECT addition!

Pitsco carries a wide variety of kits and curriculum options and you can request a catalog.

What we LOVED: Well, truth be told...flinging things through the air was the favorite part of this product! I loved that the price was very reasonable and the machines were completely put together by my older boys. I appreciated the Siege Machines book more than I anticipated.

What was a challenge: I think I covered that already...we had some issues with the trebuchet...which were not due to anything related to the kit, but carelessness on the part of the assemblers!

See what my fellow crew mates have to say about Pitsco Medieval Machines Homeschool Pack here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

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