Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Reivew and Giveaway: Amazing Dinosaur Plant: Novelty Can Inspire Inquiry

Unfolding of Selaginella lepidophylla when watered. All the animation took 3 hours (the snaps are taken in 5 minute interval).  photo: Free Software Foundation as found in Wikimedia Commons

WHAT:  The Amazing Dinosaur Plant by DuneCraft
DOES:    Allow you to safely and casually carry out scientific play.
TOOLS: Think Like a Scientist/Engineer

I remember when I first reached out to DuneCraft and asked them to send me a plant kit.   As everything green dies in our home (except for our sunflowers!), I was skeptical of any plant's future in our home so I asked their publicist to send me something that grows FAST!  To me, fast-growing means less opportunity for premature plant death.

photo: DuneCraft

But hello?  I didn't ask for something that "dies" and then "comes back to life."   Who would know to ask for such a thing?   First, you'd have to know that they even exist.
But I am telling the truth.  It's very real.  There is no sorcery involved!

Technically, I suppose it doesn't really die, it just sort of dries up and falls asleep.  According to DuneCraft, the Dinosaur plant has been living on this earth for over 290 million years.  A little research online told me that this plant is native to the Chihuahuan desert which apparently is the largest desert in North America and covers half of the state of Chihuahua in Mexico as well as parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. This probably explains why the kit comes with lava rock from New Mexico.

So as you can see in the photos, they go from a dry seemingly lifeless state and to a full-of-life-state in a matter of hours.  Wow. Yeah. Cool. But then what? What do you do with that? 

Dry, without water
One minute after water was added.

I suppose that is the hard part of a novelty "toy" like the Dino Plant.  After the ooohing and the aaahing, you don't quite know what to do with it.  But I think that is because we are forgetting the big word here: novelty.

I think all of us forget the power of novelty when it comes to toys.  However, I think novelty can be a real gift.  It is the raise of an eyebrow.  It is the sudden paying of attention.  It is the extra-focused listening even if it is for just a little while.  If you used this to open minds of others especially kids, you would not be the first.  Apparently, this plant was used by Spanish Friars who came to the New World and tried to show natives their concept of being reborn.

For me, I see this plant  as an opportunity to show them that impossible things can happen.  They may be so jaded that they may not give it a second thought but then I can ask them questions like.... "How can this happen?"  and that will get them thinking.

One hour after water was added.
10 hours later

That is the goal here: to get them to think, to get them to ask questions.
  • How does it work? 
  • Is there anything else like it?
  • Will it ever die? 
  • and here is a doozy (think twice before asking this): Why do you think it is like this?
I ask these questions because as I said in yesterday's story, our children's standards for technology have been raised so high that I think they don't marvel at anything anymore ('cept new video games and platforms).    I don't think that was the goal that scientists had in mind when they started making everything bigger, better, stronger, faster but to me, there is no doubt, my kids don't have a clue how far we've come.  Today I explained to Number 1 Son, what an old radio in the car looked like (remember the red line that you moved with the dial?).  He just looked at me like I was speaking French.

28 hours after water was added! Look at that!  I rinsed the water too.

Still for $7.99, you get a plant that springs to life within hours, is kill-proof, and most of all, has the ability to grab children's attention so that you can get the gears in their inquisitive minds to start turning again.   I think that is a crazy good deal.  Think science project folks!  It'll be here before you know it!

I think my plant would look similar if I used the bowl that comes with the kit.  What this tells me is that you can expect similar results with your plant but I bet the conversations that arise in each home will be very different.  That is what novelty can do!  photo: DuneCraft

Remember to enter the Giveaway for both the

Make Your Own Snowman World
The Amazing Dinosaur Plant 
It's a Combo-Prize to one lucky winner!  Ends 8/22/12 12:01 AM.   Sent to U.S. address only.

This widget is the same as yesterday's except a new button has been added to "like" this blog post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can't wait to see if you've won?  Try my Amazon link. 

Disclosure statement: Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any fashion by the manufacturer or retailer of any of the mentioned products for the publication of this post.  The product was given to Toys are Tools' testers to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised.  The giveaway products are provided courtesy of DuneCraft.

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