Snap Circuits Jr

My latest Maplin purchase – an electronics set for Grace. My plan to turn her into a mini-geek continues!

I still remember my first electronics set. It was good, but this one – ‘Snap Circuits Jr‘ – is so much better.

Firstly – the ease in which the bits snap together. Each component is mounted on thick chunky pieces of plastic, that snap onto a plastic board. The pieces clip together very easily – the idea is that you can connect stuff without needing fine motor controls, so my three-year old can put the pieces in roughly the right place and give them a push to click them together.

Secondly – the quality of the kit. It all feels very solid – you don’t get the feel that it’s cheap plastic or spend your time worrying that Grace is going to break it.

The manual that comes with it includes 101 different project ideas, with large colour diagrams that she was able to copy. Before long, she was putting together circuits by herself just from the plans – which was so cool!

Finally – the range of components. You get the normal light bulb and buzzers that you expect from a kids electronics set. And you also get:

  • switches – a slide switch and a press switch
  • photoresistor
  • ‘whistle chip’ – which can be used to detect sounds
  • resistors
  • jumper wires – some of the projects include connecting through, or sensing, water
  • motor – which can be used to drive a fan
  • various integrated circuits (IC) – one that plays music, one that plays an alarm sound, and a ‘Space War’ one that we haven’t got to yet!
  • speaker – for connecting up to the ICs
  • LEDs

The project ideas in the book are very creative. The simple ones are still very good for demonstrating what the components do: such as a circuit with a speaker which plays a loud tune, or a quiet tune if you replace one of the connections with a resistor. The more complex ones are lots of fun : with various projects which describe how to make games.

If you’re curious, there is a copy of the manual online here – have a look, it’s kinda cool!

We had lots of fun this morning, and there are still tons of projects left that we haven’t tried.

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