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Kitchen Table Reviews: Invasion of the Bristlebots

More than a book, this fun activity turns the kitchen table into a laboratory.

By Mir Kamin | November 6 , 2009
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<i>Invasion of the Bristlebots</i> by Klutz
Invasion of the Bristlebots by Klutz

The kids like nothing better than when I bust out a Klutz book for them. Klutz manages to come up with activity after activity with broad appeal for a variety of ages and stages. When I took this one out on a rainy day, two pairs of eyes lit right up.

I’ll confess, my kids fall solidly in the recommended 9-12 age range, so I gave them the book and left the room for a few minutes. That may have been a mistake.

Me: Wow, that was fast. Looks like you’re already playing with yours.

Daughter: Yeah, mine’s fine. Um, his is broken.

Me: Broken?

Son: There’s a little peg here, see? To snap the motor to the brush? I pushed it in and it broke.

While it’s true that my son has never been particularly noted for his grace and/or delicate touch, I still don’t think he should be able to snap a mandatory part off like that. We were able to rig a mounting method but it put a damper on things for sure.

Me: Okay, well, tell me about this.

Daughter: It’s little motors that go on top of toothbrush heads, and the book tells you all sorts of things, like how turning the motor changes how the bristlebot moves. Except it says if you put it on straight it’ll go straight, and mine never goes straight.

Me: So it’s not working exactly the way it should?

Daughter: I don’t think so, no. We’re still having a good time, though. We’ve been running mine around on the table.

Son: I like how the book looks like a scientist’s notebook, with little notes and pictures and diagrams and stuff. That’s cool. And I like that it gives you the pieces you need to make a race course, and tells you how to make roundabouts with plastic cups and stuff.

Me: What are these disembodied cardboard legs?

Daughter: That’s to make a different kind of bot. You just clip the motor to those… like this… and….

We watched as the new leg-bot vibrated across the tabletop. The kids laughed, both at the bot and the fact that I found it incredibly creepy. Animatronic legs! With no torso!

Son: Look, we set up a course so that it’ll go around and around and around forever!

Me: So would you recommend this to others? Even though yours broke and yours doesn’t go straight?

Daughter: It’s really fun, and you can do lots of things with it.

Son: Of course I’d recommend it! It’s robots!

Pros: Hands-on fun with tiny robots. Science-log format of the book is both interesting and clever. Plenty of included accessories for added entertainment.

Cons: The peg for attaching the bots to the brushes is rather fragile. The legs for making the X-treme Cardboard Bot are kind of creepy. It’s very difficult (impossible?) to make the bots go straight.

Invasion of the Bristlebots gets two kid-thumbs up from our kitchen table. (As a parent, I can’t give a thumb up to something that broke right out of the package. But the kids loved it.)

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