I was somewhat skeptical when my daughter (7 this month) asked for an electronics kit for Christmas, but it has proven to be her favourite gift and she plays with it regularly, shows it to all her friends who come to visit, has demonstrated it to her class at school, etc.
The BrainBox kit looks like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Primary-Plus-2-Electricity-Kit/dp/B000NOY1QM
(I would've liked to have bought a LittleBits
kit, but they're much more expensive.)
The problem I have with it is that the booklet is boring and badly written. It boasts "500 experiments" but as you can see from a typical page
, it has 50 or so basic configurations, and each "experiment" is just altering one component for a different effect. Besides being boring, this makes it hard to get into because if you try to do one experiment at random, it's hard to see which diagram it refers to, and you often have to read back through the previous experiments to see which other changes you need to make first. It is also written in a dry style that seems to be aimed at teachers rather than children.
Most of the fun we've had are with experiments we made up, rather than those in the book. So I'm hoping you can suggest more.
To be clear: we don't care too much about the educational value at this point. What motivates her isn't learning how electricity works, just making things that do fun stuff. Here are some things we made up that she loved:
- inspired by a book she read, we made a "lie detector", which has a red LED and green LED. When the victim touches two wires together, it lights either green (truth), or both red and green (lie), depending on whether the secret switch under the questioner's hand is pressed. (I wasn't clever enough to make it either red or green.)
- we stick paper on top of the propeller, and draw on it while spinning, creating perfect circles or concentric splattering.
- we use the propeller as a "spin the wheel" type of fortune telling, moving an arrow around a circle we've decorated with different fortunes.
As you can see, most of these experiments aren't really about science or electricity, just having fun. I'm cool with that at this stage. The way I see it, if it keeps her interested, she'll learn more naturally.