- Easy to use
- Reasonably priced
- Hundreds of projects available
- Easy to upgrade to a more advanced kit
- Could use better documentation on the included integrated circuits
Snap Circuits is an educational electronic building toy produced by Elenco. What sets Snap Circuits apart from other electrical building kits is the innovative design of the pieces. Rather than using loose wires to connect all the parts, Elenco has devised a simple, yet elegant "lego" style of building. Each kit comes with a plastic base with male connectors on it, evenly spaced out in a grid pattern. On each Snap Circuit piece, there are female connectors on the underside, and male connectors on top. This design makes constructing working circuits a "snap"!
There are currently four main Snap Circuits kits on the market. They range from beginner up to expert and each one contains more projects and more specialised components than the last kit. Here they are in order from beginner to expert:
- Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100
- Snap Circuits SC-300
- Snap Circuits Pro SC-500
- Snap Circuits Expert SC-750
For anybody starting out with Snap Circuits, I would recommend starting with the SC-100 model. The reason being you can find out for the least amount of money if this is something your child will enjoy, and you can always upgrad your kit to a higher model at a later date. However, if your child is more advanced, you can start with the SC-300 or SC-500 to keep them from getting bored to easily. While the Snap Circuits Jr. is a wonderful introductory kit, the specialty parts it comes with may seem inadequate for some.
The pieces included with the Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 include a slide switch, button switch, motor, resistor, whistel chip, 3 sound integrated circuits(alarm, space noise, music), speaker, lamp, LED, and a photo resistor. Also included is the standard battery pack and a variety of snap wires. With the included pieces, you also get an instruction manual for over 100 projects. Each project has a short description and an easy to follow colored diagram for building your circuit.
Some of the concepts learned with the beginner kit are:
- importance of creating a closed circuit
- how electricity flows through a circuit
- how resistors restrict the flow of electricity
- how switches "break" and "close" a circuit
- how to follow a diagram
With Snap Circuits, children can easily see these concepts in action with both visual and auditory examples. For example, you can build a simple circuit that has a switch and the lamp. They can now remove a wire making it an open circuit and explain to them why the bulb no longer lights up. Now you can explain to them how the switch works the same way as if you were to manually "break" the closed circuit yourself by removing a wire. Now if you add the resistor to your circuit, they can visually see how the flow of electricity is restricted because the lamp is not as bright with the resistor in the circuit. The opportunities for learning are endless.
I persoanlly have spent many hours with my son building projects from the manual as well as builfing our own projects. I have had no prior electrical experience prior to getting him the Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 for Christmas and I can honestly say that both of us have learned a great deal about how electrical components function in an electrical circuit. I truly believe it is important that our children get interested in science and math at an early age, and Snap Circuits has definitely helped in that area. I would not hesitate to recommend this product to a friend.