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

Electronics Advanced Circuits

Electronics Advanced Circuits

Spring 2014 Toys
Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $194.95

The Thames & Kosmos Electronics Advanced Circuits is an experiment kit for serious study of electronics at the middle- to high-school level. Featuring all the basic electrical components (a variety of switches, connectors, LEDs, transistors, resistors, and capacitors) as well as many fun and significant upgrades (a sound generator, FM module, 555 timer, op-amp, speaker, microphone, electrodes),the kit can be used to build an extensive variety of circuits. Components are housed in plastic casing and snap together securely without the need for a work board. Unlike most electronics kits, this also includes a voltmeter/ammeter, turning mere qualitative observation into the opportunity for more exact science.

The real star of the set, however, is the 168-page manual. It includes 146 experiments; each generally consists of a circuit layout and a discussion of the physics involved, but many offer prompts for modifications to the circuit or suggest different ways to interact with the circuit. Some pages add sidebars that include history or more technological depth; the text even gives the basic mathematics behind resistive circuits. The book also gives real-world context to all circuitry. This manual allows the kit to be used as the basis of a demanding middle school unit in electronics, or with supplemental problem sets and some additional reading it would be adequate for high school physics laboratories.

The kit is also appropriate for curious children at home, especially those who wish to graduate from simpler kits but are not quite ready to raid the bins at Radio Shack. They can start with the "play" circuits that teach the first components—lights on a switch, siren sounds—before moving on to take measurements, develop digital logic circuits, build sensing circuits (even something similar to a smoke detector), and create elaborate timed circuits and an FM radio.

Emily Crawford   ©2014 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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