Top positive review
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High Quality Kit; Great for Superstar Children or "Normal" 12+-yr olds
on December 13, 2015
I purchased this as a gift for a clever 6 year old, although I know the box says 8-108. The idea was to show her how it worked to see if she had any interest in electronics. I was concerned it wouldn't maintain her attention, so before gifting it my partner and I decided to try it out so that we could explain it to her. We both have Masters degrees, and his is in engineering, so we figured it would be a piece of cake. He also played with similar, though much more complex kits, beginning at the age of 9 (but he was far more advanced in engineering skills than his peers) and had a blast.
While using the kit, I was trying to look at it from the average kid's perspective.
The first thing we noticed about the kit, especially for me considering I wasn't really exposed to circuits as a child aside from a brief period in junior high, was that for the most part you couldn't just look at the pieces as a newb and understand what they were. They have symbols like "U1, U2, U3, WC, S1, SP, R1...". It would have been extremely helpful if the resistor, for example, was actually labeled "RESISTOR". Page 2 is incredibly useful since it names each piece.
The kit seems to assume you have some basic understanding of circuits before you even get going. For me I like to jump in and try things out; learn as I go. I despise manuals. With this kit however, you really need to take the time to read the manual, especially since a wrong arrangement can actually short out some of the pieces. If you have an inpatient kid or one without great reading skills you'll need to help them with this. I've attached some photos so you can see the complexity of the manual. There is a lot of really good info in there if you are willing to take the time to read it. It's 45 pages in length.
We worked through several configurations together, and then started to feel like there was too much redundancy. A new configuration would often just be the replacement of a particular piece, or it would involve taking two configurations and linking them together. After going through maybe 6-8 different configurations (and believe me, those would be pretty cool for someone who had never worked with circuits before) we stopped, because flipping through the book we found we weren't seeing a whole lot of additional variety.
The plastic base seems well made and although I feared I would crack it as I popped the pieces in place, I didn't. I did find it difficult to pull some of the pieces apart after they were snapped together (literally had to use my teeth on more than one occasion).
All in all, this is a very high quality kit, though somewhat limited it what it can do. I think something like this would have been great when I was just starting to learn circuits in the 7th grade. To get the full value you need to not only follow the circuit configurations to achieve a certain output (fan, dimmed light, siren) but also really read and understand why certain things are happening and how each unique piece contributes to that.
I'd recommend this for your budding 8-year old junior engineer, or purchase it for your ~12-year old when they start learning about this sort of thing in school. It makes for a great hands-on activity to supplement school learning. I wish I had something similar. For the price it's a deal. I doubt it would keep my 6-year old niece's attention, even if we worked through it with her, but we'll hold on to it to see how she progresses over time and will share it with other kids we know as it makes sense to.