Thursday, December 06, 2007

MomCat Reviews: Discovery Tornado Lab

I have mixed feelings about my next review. Not because the product isn't good, because it is pretty nifty, actually. But, growing up in the part of Texas that I did, tornadoes were all too real. I lived just miles away from Wichita Falls, TX, where one of the largest twisters to hit U.S. soil struck down when I was elementary school age.

So, we didn't do a lot of science project about tornadoes, quite frankly. Because, when you know someone who has had their legs ripped apart by one, you don't really care how they work, you just don't want to see one. Ever. Again.

Now, that I've put a damper on things, let's jump back to science and fun for kids. My eight-year-old son has been all over science this year in school. It's the first time I have really seen him enthusiastic about anything having to do with school, other than lunch and recess. This year, he's gotten into science and random trivia, as I've shared with you.

When I showed him the box for the Discovery Tornado Lab he gave me a "Whoa! Awesome!!!" And, from there, I knew we'd have a winner.

The product is nice and compact, and it would be easy to store for future fun. I was surprised, because I expected to unfold a novel's worthy of instructions, but pleasantly found two pages of easy how-to's for the lab.

My son could have read and performed the instructions all by himself, actually. We only found two hiccups with the lab. First, the instructions say to pour water into the lab to the "fill line." Our kit had no fill line. The picture on the box looked as if you were to fill it almost to the top, so that is what we did. Second, there is an experiment that has you use food coloring and mix both hot and cold water and then turn on the twister. We followed the instructions, and our red (hot) water and blue (cold) water blended into a dark purple as the tornado twisted away. The instructions make it sound like you'll see the two colors separate, at least for part of the time. Ours did not. I reread and we had followed the instructions just as written. (If you wonder why I'm fixing on instructions here, I'm a technical writer by profession. So, these kind of things really annoys me!)

Still, my son liked the twister kit and loved putting in the foam and plastic balls and learning about how dense object react in a tornado versus less dense things. And, he LOVED the strange facts about freak incidents with tornadoes. (Seriously, did a tornado really pick up a train and set it back down going the opposite way in the same spot?) We have not had a chance to watch the accompanying DVD on tornadoes, but I expect that will be very interesting as well. Even my three-and-a-half year old daughter and her friend had a ball watching the tornado spin and kept having me empty and refill it with water so they could put the test objects in to see them fly.

After we finished playing with the tornado lab, I emailed my son's teacher. I'm think I'm going to donate it to his classroom if she is interested. Because I could see this being a great tool for teaching about the weather. Honestly, it is easy enough to use for even the younger kids. A homeschooling parent might really get benefit it out of it as well. But, I can't help it, it still sort of creeps me out to have a tornado around my house as a toy.

Check out what other parents have to say about this and several other great toys over at Parents Bloggers Network.



Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Wichita Falls...Sheppard AFB. My husband went to training there. Scary stuff.

But definitely a cool toy, and I agree that it would be an excellent classroom teaching tool!

11:30 AM, December 07, 2007  

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