Resource Review: Polydron Engineer Set
What do you say when you see an empty parrot cage? Polygon.
What do you say when you see a really great geometric construction resource? Polydron.
This hands-on product has been designed to support exploration and creativity as a vehicle for understanding maths and engineering through the practical application of ideas. ‘Explore, Create, Understand’ and it does exactly what it says on the tin.
You will have seen Polydron before as it is widely used in primary settings using a system of strong, colourful, red, blue, green and yellow shapes which can be fixed together, edge to edge, by means of a unique clip hinge.
They are brilliant for making 2 and 3D shapes. The unique pieces are made from durable ABS and their quality, versatility and robustness are perfect for classroom use.
Polydron Engineer, a superb kit which can be used to demonstrate engineering principles and the workings of simple machines.
They contain the latest innovations and lots of new engineering components including cams and linkages, and are completely compatible with Polydron original and Frameworks pieces. It’s one of those ‘must-have’ resources for a design and technology class for helping inspire future engineers.
The kit is all about creating recognisable models using a set of easy to use work cards showing photos of what to do.
The set contains 109 pieces and allows for the construction of various models including a cable car, gear toys, a crane, fairground rides, a four cylinder engine, a V8 engine, gearbox, and a clock.
The pieces include baseboards, pulleys, struts, rectangles, triangles, connectors and gears. The gears are made with simple ratios (8, 16 and 24 teeth), so lots of other models can be invented. The parts are what you would expect from a superior construction toy and that is well-made and they connect together extremely well.
I can see this unique kit being well used in a range of situations. Polydron lends itself well to free play which is perfect for letting students come up with their own ideas but initially I would stick to the game plan and follow the tried and tested work cards.
Focusing students on a particular challenge and on a particular aspect of mathematics or technology gets them used to the resource and also provides a dedicated focus for discussion. Once a model has been built the trick is to see beyond it by exploiting further opportunities for intellectual curiosity and challenge.
Technology with Polydron can provide students with specific opportunities to assemble, join and combine a range of components using a variety of techniques, work through a series of stages in the making of a product, test and evaluate a product against design criteria, identify strengths and weaknesses and implement improvements.
They can go much further as well by helping students to understand ways of working with construction kits which allow both frameworks and rigid body models to be made and develop an understanding of the behaviour of structures.
Polydron also conveys key engineering learning opportunities and messages, emphasises and encourages team working, communication and planning skills. Overall, Polydron is challenging, inspiring and creative.
I’m easily sold on Polydron’s excellent quality and value for money set at £72 as I have been an enthusiastic user of their refreshing resources for many years.
The products naturally promote mathematical chats, they inspire and challenge, and they make understanding and enjoyable tactile and interactive process.
However, there is a fly in the ointment, well a couple actually. The work cards aren’t laminated and they are rather simplistic. There are no accompanying notes for teachers either which I’d expect as standard.
Competitors to Polydron go the extra mile with intricate lesson plans, videos and guidance galore either on CD or to download. Polydron need this extra muscle too to support teachers and students.
Despite some grumbles, this is a fine educational building kit that deserves to be part of the furniture and fabric of your school for teaching 3D geometry and design concepts.
Participation in practical engineering activities provides the best way of encouraging students to study STEM subjects and take up careers in engineering and Polydron provides the resources to get involved and help students improve their skills sets. Use it as a core resource or for enrichment, Polydron has many uses.
Without geometry life would be pointless and without Polydron, your STEAM classroom would be missing something to point learners in the right direction.
It’s a superior maths manipulative, easy to use, educative and fun.
Polydron Engineer is a sound geometric experience that acts as a great catalyst to learning and opens pathways to understanding how machines work.