I do like toys that support the learning process. And the Snap Circuit is one of them. This is a kit that has basic electronic components and instructions on home to build simple circuits. A while ago we’ve got one for Kate and she seem stop like it a lot.
Don’t get me wrong, it did not replace legos and dolls that she loves playing with. But this are functional building blocks and that’s really nice.
Below you can see the content of the kit that we have: some ICs for sound effects, some LEDs, buttons, speaker, motor, batteries, build plate and instruction book.
The instructions book has multiple projects with increasing complexity.
What’s funny is that on one of the pages they have pictures of how circuits should not be built. Well, Kate thought those are actual circuits and built some of them. Results – short circuit and dead batteries. Yes, we go through a lot of batteries when we actively play with the kit.
In case of Kate, she usually build couple circuits by the book and then starts experimenting on her own. She does not have enough understanding yet on what can be done and how. But if I guide her with the questions, like, “what do you want to make happen?” or “what elements do you want to use?” it kind of pushes her thought process in the right direction and helps her shape her project. Usually it does not work from the first time, and that’s when I ask her to trace the wires from one side of the power source to another. That’s when she usually find the unfinished circuit.
Now, let’s move to a favorite project.
Her favorite project is not in the book. The motor that comes with a kit has an interesting propeller mount. When motor spins, it holds the port well, but as soon as motor start slowing down, it lets propeller loose. That results in propeller flying up as soon as switch is depressed.
So her favorite circuit is a propeller launcher with a remote control, using two wires to connect the push button that she holds in her hands.
I do like the kit, as with certain persistence it can give kids understanding of basic electronics. It can also be extended to add more components over time. It think you can start playing with it at the age of 4 or 5, but don’t expect a lot of understanding.
Snap Circuits also let me understand, that Kate is interested in taking her building blocks and legos to the next level. And that’s awesome, as I’ve been looking at Lego Mindstorm for years but never had a good reason to get one. This will change soon…