I’m going to tell you right up front – if you have a kid who’s into dinosaurs (and at least six years old, although a slightly younger child might also enjoy this kit with proper supervision), or who’s interested in archeology, you’re going to want to get this kit. It’s only $14.99 and my whole family has loved it (except for the baby, he really doesn’t care). There’s something strangely satisfying about taking the little digging tool and digging into the brick, scraping it away into dust.
The Discover with Dr. Cool Ultimate Dino Dig Kit comes with the excavation brick, a digging tool, a brush, a magnifying glass, an instruction sheet (one side for excavation, one side for assembling the dinosaur pieces you find), an Adventure Guide (written by teachers) with lots of neat scientific facts about dinosaurs, fossils, and paleontologists, a fun Activity Booklet with puzzles and games, and an informational sheet about the other neat kits you can get. The brick itself has 18 assorted T-Rex pieces (to be assembled after excavation) hidden inside, as well as three real fossils: a dinosaur tooth, a piece of dinosaur bone, and fossilized dinosaur poop! (Detailed information about these fossils can be found in the Adventure Guide).
The list of awards this kit has won is pretty impressive too – and after trying it out, I can see why it won them! The Ultimate Dino Dig kit won the Academics’ Choice – Brain Toy Award 2013, the Preferred Choice Award – Creative Child Magazine 2013, and the Brain Child Toy Award – Tillywig Toy Awards 2013!
I’d never used one of these kits before, so when I first dug into the brick, I was expecting it to be agonizing, back-breaking labor. Not so. While the brick seems very solid and sturdy, it can easily be scraped away with the little plastic digging tool. That right there fascinates me – that the whole thing seems so solid but then the section you’re working on crumbles to sand when you scrape at it a little. (But only the section you’re scraping; the rest of the brick is solid).
Be forewarned: this is not a neat and tidy project. In fact, it’s quite messy – you end up with a big pile of sand as you scrape away at the brick. The accompanying booklet forewarns you that this project can be messy, and recommends laying down newspaper or doing the project outside. My oldest son has actually done previous Dr. Cool science kit projects and warned me that it’s a BIG mess, although as it turns out that was a slight exaggeration. Nonetheless, we decided to move the project to the porch shortly after excavation began.
Much like real archeological digs, we did not complete this project in a single day. Or even two days. In fact, this project took us about a week to complete, off and on. That’s partly due to the fact that it is a bit time consuming of a process to dig out the specimens, and partly because this is an “outdoor project” and we had some really lousy weather over the past week (cold and rainy, with temperatures dropping into the 30s – not exactly ideal conditions to be paleontologists!)
Since this is a smallish brick and only has one set of tools, we took turns digging for the fossils – one person excavated with the chiseling tool while another used the brush to keep the area clear of the sandy remains of the chiseled brick. We had a lot of fun trying to find the dinosaur poop (having a houseful of boys is great) – we even made a deal that the person who found the dinosaur poop got out of bathroom cleaning duties for a month. (I really wish I’d been the one who found it!)
I have to admit that I’ve done a fair bit of singing (much to my younger children’s amusement, and my older children’s eye-rolling annoyance) as we’ve worked on this kit:
I love diggin’ in the dirt
With just a pick and brush
Finding fossils is my aim…
I am a paleontologist
That’s who I am, that’s who I am, that’s who I am…
“I am a Paleontologist” by They Might Be Giants:
Our Slideshow of our Archeological Dig:
We’ll definitely be purchasing more of these kits – they’re a lot of fun even for adults. I originally planned to have my 9-year-old son help me with the excavating (the kit is for ages 6 and up), but my husband tried calling dibs on the kit as soon as he heard about it. (My husband was a dinosaur fanatic of a little boy, from what I’ve heard). And then when I was taking pictures of the kit before we dug in, my 18-year-old (the child who’s done other Dr. Cool kits) caught a glimpse of the kit – his eyes lit up and he begged to be able to dig out the fossils. So not only is this an educational toy, it’s a great activity for our entire family to do together. $15 for an activity that provides hours of quality (and educational) together time is a great deal. (Seriously, we’ve put in like three hours on this kit already and aren’t done yet – granted, that’s with lots of goofing off and chit-chat in addition to actual excavating. You could probably complete it in an hour or two if you were to sit down and work at it consistently, and you can even use water to soften the rock as you go).
Some of the other kits we’ve decided to try in the future are:
Golden Nugget Dig Kit – Excavate 3 Pyrite Specimens
Ultimate Fossil Kit – Collect 15 Rare Fossil Specimens
Ultimate Geode Kit – Break Open 20 Premium Geodes
Meteorite Dig Kit – Discover Real Tektite
Crystal Growing Kit (options include Red Aragonite, White Quartz, Purple Amethyst)
They also have some Deal Packs with multiple kits for a discounted price, so we’ll probably end up going with those. We are SET when it comes to future science fair projects! You can also check out their website for a couple of free science project recipes – volcanic gas and invisible ink.
You can purchase the Ultimate Dinosaur Dig Kit for your budding paleontologist for just $14.99 from the Discover with Dr. Cool website. Shipping is free on orders over $30.
Discover with Dr. Cool is also giving Dividing by Zero readers a FREE product with your purchase: a Mini Shark Teeth Dig Kit, where your kids can excavate a real shark tooth! Just use the code DIVBYZERO at checkout to get your free gift! This code is good through midnight CST on September 30th.