Electronics kits are so awesome. A few years ago we walked into an electronics store for something completely unrelated and I stumbled upon a kids electronics kit. Electronics is not my strong point - my husband (who is quite the science geek) was actually quite amused that I knew so little about electronics - and so when Jack developed an interest in electricity, I knew it was time for me to learn a little.
We bought Jack his first electronics kit that day and have never looked back! Electronics and electricity has been Jack's longest standing interest to date. Not many days go past before Jack is tinkering with his electronics again.
Here are 10 awesome electronics kit for beginners right through to advanced inventors.
Snap Circuits Junior is a great place to get started with electronics. Each of the components are securely contained and snap together easily with just a simple push; no tools required. There's no wires or small loose components which means young children can use this kit easily.
Snap Circuits Green Alternative Energy is another kit from the Snap Circuits range - they are such a great range and so affordable. This one though focuses on green energy. There are over a hundred projects included in this kit and each one focuses on how alternative energy is generated. The experiments include solar power, hydroelectric power, windmills, rechargeable batteries, liquid batteries and more.
Gigo Clear Electricity Kit II - This great little kit introduces the child to wires - red wire out, black wire in. It uses a really simple system of plugs to connect the wires. It's a simple kit which also includes bulbs and a fan. The project book includes experiments for testing conductivity by introducing different everyday materials.
The kit is half price at the moment (as of August 22, 2015) so it's definitely worth checking out. Here's a short video of Jack working with the kit.
Components from the Short Circuits 1 Book and Kit
Short Circuits Book 1 - This kit is my favourite kit for getting kids into working with real components; resistors, LEDs, diodes, transistors as well as introduces kids to real circuit diagrams. There's still no soldering though; the kit comes with a plastic baseboard and the circuits are created by pushing little springs (called terminal springs) into holes in the baseboard.
These springs act as connecting points for the circuit. So if the wires aren't touching, the child learns that the circuit won't work. It's a little more fiddly work, but watching Jack do it, he is really getting a solid understanding of how to create working circuits.
Short Circuits Book 1 is the first in a three book series. It's only about $40 for the book and all the components which makes it incredible value. Unfortunately, it is only available in Australia.
Solar Lab 1.0 Solar Electricity Learning Kit - I've had my eye on this kit for a little while now. I like that it includes real components as well as teaches children about voltage and current through a multimeter. The kit allows a child to learn how a solar cell works and how to build circuits to solar power devices as well as how to make a build a solar batter charger.
I have this one in my cart for Christmas time.
littleBits (here on Amazon) are AMAZING! These little modules click together with magnets. littleBits are quite different to other electronics kits that I've seen. These modules just do so much; you can honestly create almost anything. Using just some simple household materials, you can make incredible projects.
Jack has made a torch with a cardboard tube, a flickering fire with a fan and some tissue paper, a LEGO car that drives itself, a little bot which draws when you press a button and so much more. Today he made a novelty hand buzzer. The littleBits website has hundreds of amazing projects that people have submitted - click over and be inspired. They are fantastic.
littleBits are an investment material. They are top quality though and I am certain that these incredible little modules are going to last us a very long time.
These are the kits that I have been looking at for when Jack moves into more complex electronics. These kits allow the child to create circuits using breadboards and moving on to soldering.
A breadboard is a plastic board with lots of rows of little holes. I'm still learning how they work, but from what I understand, when you put one wire into a hole, it is electronically connected to all the other holes in that row. So you can connect a bunch of components to make increasingly complex circuits.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all (here's a tutorial explaining breadboards) but that's the beauty of being able to learn alongside our children.
Arduino Experiments Kit - This kit introduces the Arduino board. The Arduino board is a programmable board which you connect to your computer to load programs on to it via USB. So these sets also introduce computer programming. This set comes with a heap of components and projects. Here's a YouTube channel called Kid Arduino with a heap of videos showing what you can do with an Arduino board.
Arduino Uno Ultimate Starter Kit - This kit comes with both a breadboard and an Arduino board. You can see both there in the picture. The breadboard is on the left, and the programmable Arduino board is on the right. I liked this kit also because the manual says it breaks down the computer programming into very easy to understand language, making it perfect for a beginner. This is still an advanced kit though; there is some soldering involved. I really liked the look of the components though and it has really good reviews for being a quality set.
Short Circuits Book 2 and 3 - These two books follow on from Book 1 in the Short Circuits series. These books get into some serious electronics. Book 2 teaches the child how to use a soldering iron and multi-meter to create projects like mini strobe lights, powerful radio transmitters and a mini organ.
Book 3 calls itself the 'definitive electronics training manual' and boy does it look it! There is some serious electronics projects in this book. This book is definitely intended for children with significant experience in electronics.
Electronics has been a passion of Jack's for a few years now. He tinkers and creates circuits most days; there is always a project on the go.
So if you have a little inventor like me; why not give electronics a go?! All these kits make electronics safe and accessible to children while still teaching them sound knowledge and skills which they can use and build on.
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