Review: Solar Bug by TechBrands
DIY Solar Bug Kit
We found ourselves wandering through Jaycar again recently, and came across this fascinating STEM education toy. It is a Solar Bug DIY Kit by TechBrands.
The Solar Powered DIY Bug is a great way to educate your kids about renewable energy and engineering concepts. Here is our review, and a bit of information about the Solar Bug from Jaycar.
Solar Bug Overview
The Solar Bug is a small solar-powered machine that walks/rolls when the solar panel is getting enough sun to drive the motor. It comes as a kit of around 50 pieces that you assemble yourself. There are no tools or glue needed for assembly; you will need a small pair of side cutters to remove the plastic parts from their frame pictured below.
Once assembled, you need to place it in the sun, tilting the solar panel directly towards the sun if possible. The solar panel creates electricity and turns a small motor inside the bug. The motor is connected to a series of cogs that turn its legs/wheels, making the solar bug roll forward.
Solar Bug Video Demo
Here is a short video we took of the Solar Bug in action after we built it.
Whats in the Box?
We were pretty impressed opening up the box. Everything seems well packed and well made. It is very similar to what you would find in a model car or aeroplane kit. The instructions manual is printed well and is easy to follow. Here is what you will find in the box:
2 x Plastic Parts Sheets: These are injection moulded sheets where tiny tabs attach each part.
1 x Solar Panel & Motor: There is a small solar panel, and it is already attached to a small motor. Very convenient, and saves you having to do any wiring or soldering.
2 x Bags of Cogs: There are two small bags of essential parts that make up the cogs, eyes and antennas for the bug.
1 x Instruction Manual: An easy to follow instruction manual that is printed well. It is A3 sized too, which is helpful.
Constructing the Solar Bug
When you open the instructions and lay out the parts, you might feel overwhelmed; Don't be. This kit is really easy to put together. Just read the instructions carefully, and do just 1 step at a time.
There are no tools required to assemble to Solar Bug; however, you do need to remove the plastic parts from their housing frame. You need some side cutters for this. If your pieces are left will small burrs, a parent or supervisor can remove them with a sharp knife or a file of some sort. It is not essential to remove them on all of the parts, but there are a couple of cogs that you need to ensure has no burrs.
Assembly is pretty much foolproof, but be sure to read the instructions when connecting the last cog for the wheels/feet. The feet need to be pointing in a particular direction to assist in it moving forward.
Lastly, you will notice in the instructions that it clearly says NOT to cut out all of the plastic pieces before you need them. This is important because the part number is NOT on the part, but on the plastic sheet it's attached to.
STEM Learning Opportunities
The Solar Powered Bug Kit is great for STEM education, with a large focus on engineering and technology.
The solar panel and connected motor is an excellent tech teaching tool. Converting sunlight into energy has real-world applications, and encourages kids to think about renewable energies.
Constructing the bug will expose kids to some impressive engineering. The cog system is quite complex, and depending on your kids' ages, you can dive in deep as to how the cogs work together.
We love the Solar Bug. It is made very well, it is a great educational toy, and it was easy to assemble. It was $19AUD, which seems a little high for a small toy, but keeping in mind it has a solar panel and a motor inside, the price is justified.
We give the Solar Bug a 4.5 out of 5, and if your budget allows, we would encourage you to get this kit for your kids. If you do buy one, make sure you make the most of it and dig deep into its engineering concepts and educate your kids on how it all works.
This toy is designed for kids eight years and older. If you use a knife to remove the plastic parts, make sure a supervisor or parent does it.
The packet has a choking warning for kids under 3. The feet and eyes are easily removed, so ensure you do not let young kids play with this toy even after it is completely built.
We review the ultimate physics and engineering bridge building game, Poly Bridge. A beautifully designed and well developed STEM game.