Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: Medieval Machines Pack (Pitsco)

Two of my son’s favorite words are “build” and “projectile”. As you can imagine, he was super excited when the Medieval Machines Pack from Pitsco arrived for review.

Our pack included:

  • Trebuchet Kit
  • Catapult Kit
  • Mass Plates
  • Siege Machines Book

In addition to the above Medieval Machines Pack, we also received:
The first machine we built, by the request of my son, was the trebuchet.  Punching out the pre-laser cut pieces from the wood was no problem; in fact, some of the pieces had already come loose during shipping. 
I was a little concerned that the wood pieces would not be very sturdy, but this was an unfounded worry.  While lightweight, the wood strength was up to the task at hand.

The instructions were very clear and my son was able to put the trebuchet together almost completely on his own.  The requirements to 2read and follow directions during the building process, measure (twice) and cut (once), and be precise were great learning exercises.  The most difficult part of putting the trebuchet was the sling portion, which involved a piece of nylon and thread that needed to be attached both to the nylon and the machine, with the end result of thread of equal lengths on either side of the sling.  A bit tricky, but not difficult with some patience.  Patience, however, is not something that comes easily to my son, which is also the reason we opted to use Super Glue to construct our machine rather than wood or Tacky glue that might take a bit longer to dry.

We built the kits on two different days, but doing both in the same day is completely feasible. While the trebuchet took us a bit longer, construction of the catapult was less than an hour. My husband joined in on the catapult construction. (As a side note, these kits are great for getting Dad involved with homeschooling!)  Again, the construction for the catapult was simple, aside from a very tight-fitting dowel.  Wood glue was used for the construction this time, and I found that to work better.  On the trebuchet, I ended up regluing a couple of pieces together.

Both kits have survived a fair amount of play battles.   My son set up a battle field of pewter figurines, and needed to adjust either the size of his projectile, the distance of the machine from the target, or the load used in order to hit his target. While the included Siege Machines book has experiments and activities to do with the kits, free play alone has provided a natural learning experience.
4The Siege Machines book includes a history section among its 32 pages, in addition to the science behind them, hands-on experiments, and math integration. The last few pages are devoted to the standards addressed from three national education organizations, such as NSTA, ITEA, and NCTM. As a testament to the focus of learning through play of this product, we discovered this same kit is also distributed in the Lego Education catalog. As a Lego fan, that made my son love the kit even more!

Overall, I found this kit to be an exceptional value of building, learning, and playing and a wonderful blend of educational and just pure fun.

The Medieval Machines Pack can be purchased from Pitsco for $21.95. Be sure to check out the many other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related items available or request a catalog.

 See what others have to say about this product by visiting the official TOS Crew blog!

 Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

1 comment:

Diane Allen said...


I'm so happy you reviewed this product; it was very informative. It would have been perfect for my boys as well -- and may even be a fun addition for this time period study for my teen daughter!