I love toys that teach! As the momma of a girl, I am specially concerned with educational toys that teach science, engineering and math. My daughter played with an Elenco Electronic Snap Circuits SC-300 Physics Kit product at school one day and loved it. Santa got it for her this year, and I have to say I am pretty happy with it. I think she has played with it more than any other toy she got (except for Zoomer, which is next on my To Review List).
Description: Santa brought one of the bigger sets, it has 305 projects, and more than 60 pieces. Each part (internal component) has a different function. There are short descriptions of each of the projects along with a diagram. The goal is to follow the diagram and complete a circuit to allow the project make sounds or move.
Assembly Time: It is all assembly time 😉
Value for Money: We got one of the smaller kits Elenco Electronic Snap Circuits, Jr. Kit as a birthday present for a friend very reasonably! You can spend much more on the bigger sets. The great thing is you can always add on. (The friends mother reported that it was a big hit with her son as well, which I was relived to hear!)
Age Appropriateness: The Elenco Electronic Snap Circuits SC-300 Physics Kit is recommended for children 8 and up. I think this is a pretty appropriate recommendation. That being said, I got it for two 7 year olds who had little to no problem with it. The kids will need a little supervision with the kit, most kids will need to have a parent do a couple of the projects with them before they can left to do it on their own. My kiddo seemed to pick it up quickly and she can do most of the projects fairly well with only a little interference. In order to understand each project, the child will need to be able to read well or have someone available to read the short description of the project to them.
Educational Value: As I see it there are two really wonderful things that this kit teaches. The simplest one is diagram reading. Learning to set the pieces on the board using the labeled grid pattern (numbers across the top and letters down the side) is going to help create skills that will help students at all levels. This activity alone has validity in learning to chart or even graph.
The second is becoming comfortable with the concepts involved in electronics and electricity. This was the part I was hoping would be most helpful. This kit allows children to see how circuits are completed and allows them (sometimes through trial and error) to see it done in action. Some of the project have the connection made using the wire cables in water. My daughter was amazed to learn that water can conduct electricity! The younger kids will not always understand how each part works (neither do I frankly) but the more they build and read the instructions the more these concepts seem to solidify for them. I have been playing with it right alongside her and have been able to help her understand a little of what she is doing. I know very little about electronics so it has been a learning experience for me too!
If you or your child want to learn more about each of the individual components you can download this PDF from Elenco with descriptions of the Integrated Components in the Snap Circuits Kit.
My only complaint about the kit is that labels on the plastic board are impossible for me to see. Even with my very unattractive goggle glasses on! So, maybe in future Elenco could try to remember that the adults playing ehhem, I mean helping the kids play with the Electronic Snap Circuits may be a little older and well, a little blinder too.