One of our most favorite projects and one of the most popular posts here at The Homeschool Scientist was Reverse Engineering. The kids loved taking machines apart, seeing what was inside, and trying to figure out what role all those little parts played in making the machines work.
While that project really got the kids’ hands and minds engaged, more times than not, we really had no idea what we were looking at. The kids and I worked together and made educated guesses, but weren’t positive we were correct. If we only had a diagram for each item we took apart that gave descriptions and instructions.
While browsing the huge vendor hall at Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, this caught my eye.
A Reverse Engineering Science Kit!!! My geeky heart did skip a beat. (Don’t judge.)
As I looked at the vendor banner, I noticed this was IQLocker.com. My friend Connie at The Daisyhead blog raved about this company to me over a year ago and I hadn’t had the time to make contact. Well, I guess this was the day!
After speaking with the owner and engineer, Arthur Hess, about IQLocker.com and the Electro-Mechanical Reverse Engineering Project kit, I had to have this kit! Mr. Hess did let me have a kit for the purpose of a review, but as always, my opinions are my opinions and can’t be bought. I’m always honest with you!
The Electro-Mechanical Reverse Engineering Project kit includes a device to be taken apart, an electrical connector and battery holder to make the device work, a screwdriver, pliers, and a Destruction Manual. It has everything you need for this project!
The real key to the Electro-Mechanical Reverse Engineering Project kit, and what sets it apart, is the Destruction Manual. It is part user guide, part textbook, and part workbook, and part career exploration guide. The manual is divided into chapters that gives you:
- background about the device to be taken apart (an Automotive Exterior Mirror Glass Actuator – the little motor that makes the side mirrors on your car move).
- the requirements that this device had to meet to be used in an automobile
- how the device works
- what the parts of the device do
- how the device is made
- a look at the many professionals that had a hand in creating this device and making it work in an automotive application
- destruction instructions
- questions to test comprehension and to get students thinking
Having the manual divided into chapters keeps the information from being overwhelming, while providing a wide breath of knowledge. The kids and I went through chapters 1 and 2 the first day, and then worked on a chapter a day after that. (5 chapters in all) We found that very manageable. Looking back, I’d say this kit was more than a science kit, it was more like a unit study.
The kids and I read through the Destruction Manual together as we worked on this reverse engineering project.
Using the instructions given in the Destruction Manual, I let them take turns taking the actuator apart and hooking it up to the battery pack.
The kids got to see how the inner parts of the actuator worked together to make the mirror move.
The Electro-Mechanical Reverse Engineering Project was about more than taking something apart. It was about learning how things work, why certain parts are used, how those parts are made, and who has a hand in making them.
Final Thoughts & Giveaway
In these weeks since we’ve completed the Electro-Mechanical Reverse Engineering Project, I can see lasting effects of the project. The kids have been asking questions about and discussing the small parts that make everyday things work. They have been talking about careers and what kinds of professionals work with things like metals, plastics, and drawing plans. These are discussions we’ve not had before. I’d call that a success.
The Electro-Mechanical Reverse Engineering Project kit fits an open niche in the world of science kits and science education, for that matter.
Where else will you get tactile learning, engineering, math, career exploration, and critical thinking in one package??