One of Bruce’s favorite birthday presents from turning seven has been the Snap Circuits kit my husband and I gave him. Snap Circuits has a very Lego-like feel about it. It includes a circuit board and a myriad of components that snap together. If you follow the directions in the schematics book, you can build circuits that do real things like turn on a light bulb, work a fan, play music, etc. These experiments go very quickly. The first time Bruce and I did Snap Circuits together we did six different experiments in about twenty minutes.
Will I date myself if I say that this was “totally awesome”? I don’t have any engineering experience at all, and yet I was able to help my son do this without any problem. In fact, I felt like I learned a lot myself as an adult.
That being said, when my Electrical Engineer husband does Snap Circuits with Bruce he takes the learning to a whole new level because he knows just the right words to say. This strikes me as yet another example of education begetting education. Yeah for my by kids, bummer for everyone else. It strikes me as sad, because I never got exposure to anything like this when I was a child. My parents were wonderful, but they were English and Home Economics majors. It makes me wonder…If I had played around building circuits when I was seven, would the thought of becoming an engineer someday ever occurred to me?
Back to the present, how can the ordinary mom like me be able to do Snap Circuits with my kids and use the same sort of language that my EE husband can? Well, I need to hunt down a copy of There are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings by Kenn Amdahl. I first read that book in high school and remember it as being a funny, easy-t0-understand explanation about how electricity works. I don’t really want to spend my limited free time reading about electricity, but I’m willing to do a little Mommy-Ed so that I can be a better home-teacher.
Finally, I have to give a shout-out to Beth at Homeschool Ninjas because she is the person who introduced me to Snap Circuits in the first place. I asked her which kit I should buy, and she said to buy the biggest kit we afford, because the experiments go very quickly. That was really good advice! So for Bruce’s main present, we purchased the Snap Circuits Extreme kit, which has 750 experiments.
There are less expensive Snap Circuit kits available too. There are also extension kits you can purchase to beef-up the smaller kits if your child ends up liking Snap Circuits as much as Bruce does.