If you’re looking for a present that engages young minds whilst teaching them how to create mini machines that work, look no further.
Sam’s Curious Cars is a kit from SAM Labs which teaches kids how to build and programme their own cars and games.
The Sam’s Curious Cars kit contains 5 cars and a separate booklet which contains even more projects to try once you have got the hang of it.
The Husband writes code for a living so this was the perfect thing for him to try out with Caitlin and Ieuan and, of the two kids, it was Caitlin who was most captivated by the kit.
In fact, the Huffington Post describes SAM Lab’s kits as “Lego for the internet generation” which is very apt. And, even better, the kit is compatible with Lego itself.
SAM Labs’ believe that every kid has inventive potential and their kits are built to unleash it – and their imaginations.
The Sam’s Curious Cars kit contains 5 SAM blocks which all have different functions – for example, a light, a motor and a button.
You turn the blocks on and then charge them (this takes an hour). Then they are programmed wirelessly via an app which the kids used on an iPad, but which is also available for Android and Windows/Mac.
You have to connect the SAM blocks together to make them work via the app and you do this when you have assembled the base of your car and put the wheels on.
|Caitlin connecting the blocks via the app
It’s a great opportunity for parents and kids to work together.
There are also 5 press out and assemble cardboard cars that sit on top of a base and each of these can be further customised by a little more programming. For example, there is a bulldozer and you can move the shovel up and down using the SAM servo.
I particularly liked that each project is given a star ranking for the degree of difficulty and there is also an indication of the time taken to complete each one. Once you have mastered the hardest project, the Vintage Hotrod, you can design your own.
Sam’s Curious Cars is a really unusual and challenging toy that is genuinely educational. Caitlin has just turned 9 and I would say that this is an ideal age for the kit because patience is needed, along with the ability to read and understand instructions – and practice.
The separate booklet of projects “SAM Book of Crazy Cool Ideas” contains ideas like creating your own game show buzzer or alarm, or even creating a stirring machine.
The kit retails at £149 and in terms of value for money and the hours of educational fun it can provide I think it’s excellent. Even I learned something!
The SAM Labs kits would also make a good pressie for not so young inventors and I can see that they would make a fabulous teaching tool for schools and workshops too.