Most helpful positive review
181 of 188 people found the following review helpful
Great eductional toy
on February 20, 2011
I purchased this educational model / toy from a different supplier, so I cannot comment on customer service, etc...
This review is for the Leonardo da Vinci Catapult science toy.
I will cover the general experience and age suggestion, assembly and contents, materials and quality, and performance.
I shared the experience of assembling this catapult with my 9 year old, and the instructions were a little over his head (That is OKAY, because package is marked for 12 and up).
I mention this because despite the complexity, his eyes were still fixated to the project, and most steps were simple enough such that he could accomplish them with guidance. (ex. glue pieces together, and assemble parts with wooden rods)
Due to tight fit of wooden rods in holes, some increased strength may be needed, but the kit also includes sandpaper just in case the holes are too narrow for the dowels; sand the dowel a bit, and check for fit--easy.
Please note that the project does NOT need any major modification or drilling out the holes, etc... perfectly fine for assembly the way it is.
With regard to the complexity, the instructions contained are very detailed, and appear as if much care went into creating them--definitely a bonus for being represented as an educational product.
I dare say there is even some light humor to breathe a bit of life into the documentation.
Fun facts about da Vinci, some age-appropriate questions and experiments for critical analysis, etc... too.
Everything is labeled in the documentation, and the shapes of the pieces are clearly marked for easy recognition.
Surprisingly, the project includes everything needed for assembly.
Admittedly, it was a very nice surprise to find glue contained--not that we lacked it in the household, mind you, just the thought that counted & definitely set us off with the best attitude & confidence in the project.
The whole project takes about an hour or two to complete depending on skill and interaction / explaining things to curious 9 year olds.
Interestingly the documentation also includes a "snack break".
This gave me a bit of a chuckle, but masks a more important step of the process: to let some of the glue dry a little bit before continuing!
Materials (wood and bamboo) are very thoughtful regarding the function of each piece: pine(?) for static support structures, and bamboo for pieces which need to flex repeatedly.
Even contains a small patch of leather to soften the blow of the swing arm on the downswing.
Performance is as expected for a science project.
The device flings small bits of clay (also included!) about 10 feet with the right tension.
Careful not to over tension the arms; though they are made of bamboo, there is still a natural limit to the material.
Bottom line: the catapult works marvelously for its intended purpose: learning a bit about the history of mechanical engineering / physics, and slight demonstration of concepts in physics.
The project is fun to share with a child.
Assembly is easy, entertaining, AND educational!
The materials are solid, and with normal use, it should far out-last the price tag.
Performance is okay, but more importantly the learning experience is definitely worth the price to us!
By the way:
PLEASE understand that this is DEFINITELY NOT a toy to be carelessly cast aside into the bottom of some child's toy box when finished playing / learning.
I believe that once completed, this deserves to be displayed safely on a shelf or desk for the interest of all.
I really look forward to sharing time with my step-son while assembling more of these high quality and FUN projects!
(probably great for community/group activities, too)
Thanks for reading!