Post Published on December 14, 2020.
Last Updated on December 14, 2020 by davemackey.
I’ve been head down focused on a job hunt (looking for a remote-first developer position) and haven’t blogged recently…but I just had to take a few minutes to share with you a gift I bought for Asher maybe 6 months ago that has been super fun (in case anyone is looking for last minute Christmas gifts).
The product is by a company I’d never heard of before – Elenco. It is part of a line of products they sell called “SNAP CIRCUITS” which provide electrical component kits for kids. I bought one of the smallest kits – Snap Circuits Jr. (SC-100). It comes with a booklet with drawings and written instructions on performing 100 projects. Some of our favorites thus far (we’ve finished 51 projects!):
- A motor with fan which one can cause to fly into the air by turning the circuit on and off.
- A photoresistor that detects light and one can cause functionality to activate by putting it under light (or even reflecting light off a piece of paper/mirror).
- A speaker which when combined with various integrated circuits allows for the creation of different sounds and songs.
- A whistler chip that responds to sounds/tapping allowing functionality to turn on.
Asher was three when I bought this for him which is less than half the recommended age (each child is different, you need to decide for yourself whether your child can safely use this product, Asher doesn’t eat non-food items and I do every project with him). This meant at the start he picked the pieces out of the box as I asked for them and I placed them onto the circuit board. He then would press the button switch, tap the whistler chip, etc. to make the functionality occur – and that was exciting enough! Recently he began putting the pieces onto the circuit board himself (I’d help with determining the positioning). Now he is slowly learning to read the drawings and understand the grid himself! It is so much fun!
I’m super excited to get Asher the next kit once we finish this one. One of the really neat things about these kits is that they are upgradable. For example, we have the SC-100 and rather than needing to purchase the SC-300 for the full price they offer an upgrade kit which allows one to purchase only the additional parts included in the SC-300. This lets you try out the system at a low price point and if your kid likes it, upgrade as they complete the projects. I think this is an awesome method of pricing and demonstrates the companies’ desire to offer real value to customers rather than simply making another buck.
I want to be completely honest with you, there are a few small items I don’t like about the kit. These are nit-picking items, none reduce my enthusiasm for the product…but I don’t want anyone to feel like I pulled the wool over their eyes:
- There is a science book that one can purchase separately (for a fairly nominal $10) that goes more into the theory behind the projects. The project book itself is focused on building the projects not understanding the theory behind them. I kind of wish this book was included with the bundle – but they have recently made a downloadable version available for free on their site. (In addition they have made a Teacher’s Guide free as well).
- The project guide often includes multiple projects on the same page. If the projects are similar it is really easy (at least for Asher and I) to mix up which project we are working on. It only takes a few seconds to figure it out, but if similar projects each had their own page that would be cool.
- There have been a very few (2-3 out of 51) that haven’t worked as expected. I may be reading the instructions wrong or maybe the project is doing the inverse…wish I had written them down so I could pass them off to Elenco. (BTW, they are super responsive by email!).
- The whistler chip we have doesn’t seem to respond well to sound, usually we have to physically tap it to make it work. (However, I gave Asher this gift piecemeal, buried in his rice and beans bin, so some rice getting into the whistler chip might be a culprit!).
Okay, final thoughts. All the links above are to Elenco’s own site where you can buy the product directly. I haven’t used Amazon links because I want you to know that I REALLY like this product and I’m not just pushing a product for $$.