STEM Review: ZOOB Builderz

"Build it. Move it. ZOOB it."  No, this isn't a Zumba class, but the catch phrase of the ZOOB Builderz kit! I still have no idea what "ZOOB it" means, but I have been pretty impressed with my purchase of the ZOOB kit. I was on the hunt for a building kit to enhance my STEM program, and this kit was intriguing because of the STEM Challenge Cards. Read on for my review of the ZOOB Builderz STEM Challenge Kit

ZOOB captures the dynamic movement based on the way things move in nature instead of using traditional stacking connections, so the pieces are interactive when connected and they can create toys to play with! Take ZOOB creations to the next level. The ZOOB STEM Challenge kit with 220 pieces allows you to design and build creations to solve challenges. There are 35 mind-bending challenges with multiple possible solutions: hitting targets, building a ramp, making balls bounce, build a zip-line and much more!
— ZOOB Website

I thought the description sounded pretty good, so for about $25, I purchased the ZOOB STEM Challenge kit from Amazon, Once it arrived, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, 6th and 8th graders, eagerly sat down with me to give it a try!  

 

Lanaria (8th grader) and Majhai (6th grader) test the ZOOB kit. 

Lanaria (8th grader) and Majhai (6th grader) test the ZOOB kit. 

I started by reading the manual describing the various connections, and then we each took one of the building instruction booklets. These are typical building instructions that show you how to construct fun creations like a chicken or a dinosaur. The instructions are only one picture of the object you are trying to build, and students will really need to practice their spatial-reasoning skills to figure out how the parts fit together. These builds are a great way to introduce the kit, and they range in difficulty. Both kids jumped right in and started building with no guidance. I left them for about an hour, and they were so engaged and kept running in to show me each new creation! Younger elementary students will likely need some initial help with even the easiest of the builds.

Majhai, starting 6th grade this year, really loved the ZOOB kit! 

Majhai, starting 6th grade this year, really loved the ZOOB kit! 

In general, I really enjoyed these connectors compared to other kits. The pieces are nice and big, which is great for younger students, and awesome for teachers during clean-up. The parts are also bright and colorful helping students find what they need. Everything snaps together easily, and the ball connectors make for a unique build that rotates and moves. The website advertizes that students will want to play with their creations, and this was definitely true! 

My real interest was in the STEM Challenge Cards. The kit includes 4 wheels, 24 rubber bands, a ball, 2 foam play pads, string, and 35 challenge cards. These challenge cards are engineering focused with a few elementary level math problem.  These range from building a car, making a ball bounce, or swinging a piece. You can see this in action in the video below from TinkerDoodle as well as the Challenge Hints provided by Zoob here

The cards are pretty vague, but I just handed one each to my testers to see what they could figure out. Here is Lanaria, 8th grader, working on building something that can make a ball bounce. 

When she first started building, Lanaria demanded to have the instructions for building. She searched the box, the cards, but couldn't find anything that would tell her how to make the ball bounce. She struggled for a few minutes coming up with a plan, but once she decided to use the rubber bands, she was off! Check out this video of Majhai testing out her design. (Side note: while they did really enjoy this kit, Majhai is clearly being over-dramatic. I told his mom to sign him up for acting classes!) 

In the end, I definitely plan to use this kit in my STEM program. My awesome testers spent at least 2 hours trying out this kit with very little guidance or motivation to keep playing. But, while the students will have a lot of fun just creating cool builds, it may require some effort to get them to focus on a building challenge. 

After testing the kit, I asked my 6th grade tester for his opinion. 

This was just like Legos but better! I like how it teaches you different designs, and then afterwards, you can just play around with it. And even without instructions, you can just make your own creations.
— Majhai, 6th grader

Have you used the Zoob Kit? Leave us feedback below! 

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