STEM skills targeted: Electronic circuits
Recommended age range: 8-15
This is the kind of toy I would have loved when I was a kid. I remember having an electronics kit that could be used to make a radio, an electro-magnet and various other things (I have a vague memory of scraping paint off one of the copper pipes gong into a radiator so I could tape a wire to it to use as an earth – not sure what that project was!) That kit was great but the main problem was that it was fiddly and required a fair bit of patience to get right.
Snap Circuits takes the fiddlyness out of electronics so even young kids who haven’t quite mastered their fine motor skills can enjoy the magic of creating electronic circuits.
And it really is magic for kids – there’s something extra special about building something on your own from a few little parts and seeing lights flash, motors spin, buzzers buzz or even make your own RC car or robot. I think these little kids could really spark excitement in kids and give them the confidence to explore electronics further.
There are many different Snap Circuits kits available so I’m just going to highlight a few of the most popular ones. All of the components are interchangeable so you can either start off with a big kit with lots of different potential for projects or just buy the smaller sets and add to them gradually.
If you’re wondering about the difference between the standard Snap Circuits sets and the Snap Circuits Junior sets, there isn’t really a difference! It’s just that Snap Circuits Jr tend to have fewer parts and is intended more as an introduction to the toy. If you’re buying for an older child, you might want to start with one of the bigger kids, which can be used to create more electronic projects. All the kits are recommended for ages 8+ but may be suitable for some younger kids with adult help.
This is a fantastic intro to electronics kit with over 30 snap together parts that enable children to make their own electronic circuits. You can think of them a bit like advanced logos – there’s no fiddling around with wires to worry about and soldering is not required as all the pieces come as self-contained components which can be snapped into place.
Each piece is numbered and color-coded so they’re really easy for children to identify from the instructions. The kit comes with a clear full-colour guide to making over 100 projects including a flashing light, a photo sensor, an adjustable-volume siren, a sound-activated switch, musical doorbell and flying saucer.
This kit is a great introduction to electronics and if you have kids who prefer computer games to building toys, you might find that this is just the thing to tear them away from the screen. It also comes at a very affordable price point and is great value for money.
This is a larger kit with over 60 components, enabling kids to build over 300 electronic projects by following the instructions and diagrams in the included manual.
As with all the other Snap Circuits kits, no tools are required and most children should be able to build the projects without help from around the age of 8.
Note for those who already have the Snap Circuits Jr SC-100 kit, the 100 projects in that kit are also included in the manual for this kit, along with 200 new projects.
There is enough in this kit to keep your kids happily entertained for hours and it’s a great “rainy day” toy that’s educational at the same time.
This kit has some fun components that aren’t included in the base kits such as an infra-red detector, strobe light, colour changing LED, light-up glow in the dark fans, strobe integrated circuit and fiber optics. You can also connect your iPod or any MP3 player to watch the lights flash in time to the music.
In contrast to the basic kits which have a varied range of projects, almost all the projects included with this kit have something to do with light. I find that my kids are fascinated with lights and love playing in the dark so if yours are the same, they might enjoy this set more than some of the others that have projects with sounds and motors. You can of course combine it with another set to make new projects which would be a great expansion learning activity for older kids.
This is the largest kit available with over 80 parts, enabling you to build over 750 projects. If you have a kid who’s really interested in electronics, this is definitely the kit for them!
This kit also includes a computer interface which allows kids to view waveforms and frequencies like an electronics engineer – lots of scope for homeschooling projects with this.
The book included in the kit has all of the projects included in the earlier kits, plus additional projects. The complexity increases as you move through the manual so kids can grow on their previous knowledge and improve their confidence at building electronic circuits gradually.
There are also small upgrade packs available for this kit, which will allow children to create their own customized circuits.
As this kit has so many parts, it’s one of the pricier ones but the overwhelmingly positive reviews show this toy is well worth the money (and still under $100 which is much less than a games console and games) – the kids are happy and learning at the same time and the parents are happy they’ve invested in something educational that keeps their children busy and entertained for so long.
Some kids like lights and some like things that move and spin – this kit is designed for the second group. With over 50 parts and 150 projects to complete, kids can make their own color-changing fan, air fountain and motion detector.
It’s also possible to connect the kit to a smart phone and analyze sounds via a downloadable app. This kit also contains additional non-electronic components to explore further aspects of engineering such as gears and pulleys.
Some of the fun projects you can build with this kit include a small remote controlled car, robotic crawler and an air fountain that makes a Styrofoam ball appear to float.
It’s more important than ever that the future generation understands the importance of alternative and renewable energy sources and this electronic kit makes learning the science behind green energy fun.
The kit contains over 40 parts and instructions to make 125 projects linked to alternative energy and comes with solar-chargeable batteries. Rather than the other kits that run off conventional batteries, the projects in this kit can be run by solar power or water or wind power.
This is a great kit for understanding the concepts behind energy and power and a great value and fun educational toy.
This kit is a little different to the other Snap Circuits kit as the main project is creating a remote controlled car with working headlights. There are also several other projects that can be built with this kit including a rotating light, a generator, and salt water detector.
The box contains 37 electronic snap components, rover body, plastic snap grid, remote control, and project manual.
It can also be used together with the other sets to create new machines – great for little inventors and engineers!