Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Electronics: Learning Circuits

Electronics: Learning Circuits

Fall 2011 Toys
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $39.95

Electronics: Learning Circuits is an electrical science learning/experiment kit. The kit includes 55 connectors, switches, lights, resistors, capacitors and other components necessary to conduct 73 activities in the 63-page experiment manual. Readily available household items are necessary to conduct some experiments.

This colorful building block approach to circuitry is much less intimidating than wires, clips, and delicate resisters and capacitors found in other kits. Even very young children can look at the illustrations and easily assemble the components in each activity. With circuit symbols printed directly on the blocks, children quickly become familiar with circuit diagrams.

The excellent, colorful experiment manual not only illustrates many appropriate activities, but it also includes a large number of thorough explanations and good science. Activities range from building simple circuits to reading bar codes and building alarm systems. Many "Science database" sections in the manual give detailed explanations of electrical theory, some history, and lots of applications of the topics introduced, and "notes" sections allow the student to conveniently record findings.

As simple as this kit seems with snap together colored blocks, many activities and text are far from beginner. Young children would soon be lost in the technical language in the manual. Even an eight year old would have trouble with text like "...current can be conducted into the base of another transistor and further amplified. The base current fluctuations generating corresponding, but much stronger, fluctuations in collector..." One could argue that a child could grow into the kit, but then the building block approach is less appealing or appropriate to older children or adults. We suggest having parents available to help younger scientists make sense of the manual here.

Ellie and Don Homce   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Don and Ellie Homce are the parents of two sons. Ellie is a former chemistry and physical science teacher and trainer in the hazardous materials field. Currently a professional volunteer at local schools and a thrift shop, Ellie continues to pursue her interests in art. Don is a health and safety and environmental science professional who enjoys building and fixing things. He has been a Boy Scout Leader for the past ten years.

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