Review: Smithsonian Rock & Gem Dig
Finding Gems Has Never Been Easier
We picked up the Smithsonian Rock And Gem Dig whilst shopping at Big W one day.
This STEM toy is a single-use toy. Kids use the included tools to dig through the compressed sand block looking for gems and stones. The activity itself was fun, and my oldest son, under very heavy supervision, and with my help, had a great time searching for the gems. The product itself though could be improved. Here is our review of the Smithsonian Rock & Gem Dig. ⛏
What's in the Box?
Here is the list of contents in the Smithsonian Rock And Gem Dig Kit:
1 x Sand Block: A compressed sand block containing the gems.
11 x Gemstones, Minerals and Rocks: All inside the sand block.
Mallet and Dowel: Tools for digging out the gems.
Goggles: Fake goggles, read below.
Streak Plate: To help identify rocks and gems.
Magnifying Glass: Gives a closer look at gems.
Colour Poster: Containing instructions and color chart for stones.
Digging For Gemstones
The process of digging for gems is straightforward. Just chip away at the compresses sand block using the provided mallet and dowel tool, and try to find gems along the way. It is a great introduction to geology. My son enjoyed the activity, and I can see why it is so appealing to kids.
What We Liked
This product was a little underwhelming, but there were a couple of things we really liked.
The concept is great, and my son did enjoy breaking it apart from hoping for a gem with each strike of the mallet. He was excited, and I could see his enthusiasm.
Awesome Colour Poster
The colour poster was great. It was very informative. It had all sorts of information about rocks, and I learned quite a lot.
What We Didn't Like
While the Rock & Gem Dig Kit was a fun activity, there were a few things we didn't like about it:
The included goggles were very disappointing, and I really can't understand it. The goggles were marked as a 'Toy' and warned that they don't offer protection. Why include them at all?
Now, I looked over this product, and as a parent, I deemed them safe for my son for this activity. However, the official stance is that they are a toy. I can only imagine it is to protect them against any injuries. I don't know why they just don't include them. For example, when you buy a drill at the hardware store, they don't include goggles, yet you should wear goggles. Maybe I am out of my depth here, but it just seemed odd to me.
Stones in One Clump
When I bought this, for some reason, I pictured the gems and rocks to be spread out inside the sand, making it a bit of a challenge to find them all. But I was wrong. All 11 stones are right in the centre of the block in one clump. Find one; you find them all. Once you find one, they all just fall out. A little disappointing, and made the activity quite short.
Hard to Identify the Gems
This really could be user error, but I struggled to identify all of the gems to the poster. A lot of them were similar. I do think this represents real life, and I should not complain, but for kids, I thought I could have been a little easier possible.
Overall, I think this toy missed out on a lot of opportunities at being awesome. Fundamentally it had the right idea, but the execution was not that great. I do think this activity is a great activity for kids, and it is a great way to introduce kids to geology. I just think they could have made the product a little better. We give the Smithsonian Rock & Gem Dig Kit a 2 out of 5.
Magic Rocks is a awesome kids science experiment from Smithsonian. A great STEM learning experiment for kids.