Daddy, can we build the Manhattan Project on page 6?
December 4, 2008 8:38 AM   Subscribe

SantaFilter: Looking for a fun, durable, relative inexpensive electronics kit/lab for wiz-bang 7-year old girl...

I started by looking at the old stand-by Radio Shack offerings, but the majority of reviewers said they break quickly and no replacement parts are available. Beyond that, my web trollings have lead me to believe that there's something even more fun than the standard 100-in-1 snap-circuit make-a-doorbell "lab" out there. Found a Lemon Clock, but, well, meh... Robotic or even remote control would be pretty cool. Come on, MeFi Elf-Geeks: what is it?!
posted by TigerMoth to Technology (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Check out the stuff in the MakerShed, esp. the Kits for Kids section.
posted by jquinby at 8:47 AM on December 4, 2008

Try Edmund Scientific.
posted by Sailormom at 9:09 AM on December 4, 2008

Awesome and awesomer.
posted by designbot at 10:10 AM on December 4, 2008

The kit in designbot's first link is the standard one used in the primary (=elementary) school that a relative of mine works in. They survive regular (ab)use by a classroom full of 6-11 year-olds remarkably well, and the very small number of bits that break by the end of the year are trivial to repair - replace a few screw-in bulbs, resolder the occasional loosened wire, etc.

I know that the kit comes with plenty of things to light up and make noises, as well as plans for things like burglar alarms, light sensors, etc. My only experience with it is testing the parts at the end of a term and repairing the few faulty ones, but the teachers I asked all agreed that it's a good kit.

Lego Mindstorms is, indeed, awesomer than practically anything else that has ever been built. It's basically a set of computer-controlled parts (motors, light sensors, etc) that you build into ordinary lego models. You can build anything from a wired remote-control car (well, you can do that with ordinary Lego Technik) to -- in one particularly awesome youtube video I saw -- a pair of robot arms hooked to a webcam that can solve a rubik's cube. It's pretty pricey and much more about logic and programming than electronics per se, but it is undeniably good, open-ended, geeky fun.
posted by metaBugs at 10:33 AM on December 4, 2008

Browsing opportunities here.

Over on they also have an ant farm that's made with a cool glow-in-the-dark space-age gel that serves both as food and as tunneling material, which you may also want to check out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:59 PM on December 4, 2008

....Except, you're looking for something in the electronics field, so the ant farm won't work. D'oh.

Well, the first link seemed to be entirely about science kits for kids, so that should yield something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:01 PM on December 4, 2008

My husband's company used the snap circuits (that designbot links to) for something. I don't remember what. I do remember that many of the engineers wanted to take them home. They also come in a junior version for younger kids that I'm considering for my 5 yr old.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:31 PM on December 4, 2008

Kits Allow Children to Build Their Own Robots [NYT]: "A variety of kits, for different ages and budgets, enable youngsters to create all kinds of automatons, including frogs, orangutans and classic mechanical humanoids."
posted by Tufa at 10:00 PM on December 4, 2008

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