Author Topic: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old  (Read 10293 times)

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Offline aandrew

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #25 on: October 01, 2016, 02:30:46 pm »
I'm very, very keen to see them delve into this hobby, along with rudimentary programming when they're a little older.
Really? The descriptive language concepts of programming should be much more accessible than the abstract world of electronics.

I find the opposite; electronics is very "physical" -- you pick up a component, you manipulate it with your hands, you can smell a component overheating, see how the glow of an LED changes with your hand on the components or the battery giving out. IMO the kids are much more attuned to their physical surroundings and this is why they love physical objects they can manipulate.

Software allows you to do some really cool things, but trying to get them to think like they're programming a very stupid robot can be challenging. They all love the idea of commanding a robot but they think far too high level. "Go to the fridge and get me some juice" rather than "forward 9 steps, left 90 degrees, forward 1 step, right 90 degrees..." etc. That comes with time and mental development.

Once they get those kinds of concepts down (and LOGO is a great help here, I'm dying to find a good iOS LOGO app with a real, physical BLE robot... my connections at a certain toy company say they're coming out with something soon though) then they're ready to make LED blinkers or servo controllers with Arduino type kits. Maybe start picking up some Python and such, but I feel those are things for the older, more developed mind.

Quote
I certainly found programming much more gratifying with its simple step by step evolution, until I had enough maths under control to be able to use simultaneous equations to understand circuits.

It's interesting how differently people approach things. I'm 40 years old and design complex electronics for a living; Unless I'm doing a high speed layout and calculating SI parameters or doing analog/RF design, it is exceedingly rare that I have to worry about this kind of analysis. I tend to design and think by "rules of thumb"; V=IR and basic algebra gets me very, very far.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #26 on: October 01, 2016, 03:58:40 pm »
...LOGO is a great help here, I'm dying to find a good iOS LOGO app with a real, physical BLE robot

If we're talking about the same Logo, you just gave me flashbacks of when I was a kid. My first ever computer was the Sharp MZ-800 which was based on the Z80 processor. I remember using Logo to create things then printing them out on a 4-colour plotter printer. Ended up selling that computer along with original monitor, 'Quick Disk' floppy drive, plotter printer and a bunch of tapes and disks for $50 in the 1990's. I wish I'd have kept it.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2016, 04:01:53 pm by Halcyon »
 

Offline JoeN

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #27 on: October 01, 2016, 07:19:54 pm »
Thanks to everyone.  This Snapcircuits kit looks really nice and a bargain for what you get.  I will run it by my brother unless someone tells me I have selected the wrong kit.  Everyone on Amazon thinks it's great.

https://www.amazon.com/Snap-Circuits-SC-500-Electronics-Discovery/dp/B00CIXVIZI
This is a 6 year old we're talking about? The Box says for 8+ years old. 2 years is a big difference at that age.

I had a spring terminal based 150in1 I bought for myself out of pocket money savings at 12. Dad would match my savings dollar for dollar if he felt it was a worthy thing. Neither of my parents had any electronics knowledge so I was self motivated in electronics interest. I was old enough to choose it myself. I imagine many here recommending similar did as well.

I am getting a bit of a sense of religious zeal here in recommending electronics to a 6 year old. 6 is pretty young. That kit seems a bargain for what it is but you're right to run it by the childs parents. I think it is better to be guided by what the child wants and parents can help there. She might want a Barbie doll.

She's really sharp, this is what she is asking for, and she has been doing something like this for the last year.  I am running it by my brother, just sent the email.  But it is more or less what he said she wanted, he just wasn't aware of the advances and was thinking more like the spring kits from Tandy when we were kids.
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Offline JoeN

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #28 on: October 01, 2016, 07:25:59 pm »
I think that's an excellent age to start learning about logic gates. Nothing too complex, but simple circuits with lightbulbs (or LEDs), switches, and batteries should be enough to get the concepts across of things like AND and OR. From there she could go either analogue or digital, although I think the digital route is somewhat easier and naturally leads into computers and programming. Too many "programmers" or "coders" these days don't even know how to count in binary! If she continues on that path she should be well ahead of them. On the other hand, she might be a bit too young for a bunch of 7400s and a breadboard...

I just want her to get started on this stuff.  I can make my own advanced kit for her in a few years I have so many extra breadboards, passives, transistors, 7400ICs, etc.  My solderless breadboard kit will be far better than anything on the market given what I have in my lab to include (DIP ADCs, DACs, V/F ICs, timers, etc.)
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Offline ez24

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2016, 09:39:55 pm »
My brother has informed me that my six year old niece has been a member of a robotics club designed for very young kids for the last year (!).  He also informs me she would love an electronics or robotics kit for Christmas.  I have no idea what they are shown at this age or what kids that age can comprehend.  I thought it was impossible for them to comprehend electronics at all.  Any ideas what a good kit would be?  She's quite smart for her age, but still she is six.  Her dad would help her with it.  He's very bright, but not really into electronics himself.  Ideas?

robotics :

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KAS5GC4/ref=pd_sbs_21_5?ie=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00KAS5GC4&pd_rd_r=S4ADWEBGVJ93BVA89NDG&pd_rd_w=SKhbF&pd_rd_wg=8qLae&psc=1&refRID=S4ADWEBGVJ93BVA89NDG

for cheaper and younger

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B011M0XXXM


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Offline Someone

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #30 on: October 01, 2016, 09:57:21 pm »
I'm very, very keen to see them delve into this hobby, along with rudimentary programming when they're a little older.
Really? The descriptive language concepts of programming should be much more accessible than the abstract world of electronics.
I find the opposite; electronics is very "physical" -- you pick up a component, you manipulate it with your hands, you can smell a component overheating, see how the glow of an LED changes with your hand on the components or the battery giving out. IMO the kids are much more attuned to their physical surroundings and this is why they love physical objects they can manipulate.

Software allows you to do some really cool things, but trying to get them to think like they're programming a very stupid robot can be challenging. They all love the idea of commanding a robot but they think far too high level. "Go to the fridge and get me some juice" rather than "forward 9 steps, left 90 degrees, forward 1 step, right 90 degrees..." etc. That comes with time and mental development.

Once they get those kinds of concepts down (and LOGO is a great help here, I'm dying to find a good iOS LOGO app with a real, physical BLE robot... my connections at a certain toy company say they're coming out with something soon though) then they're ready to make LED blinkers or servo controllers with Arduino type kits. Maybe start picking up some Python and such, but I feel those are things for the older, more developed mind.
I would suggest programming with nothing physical involved, let young children build on their story telling, make believe, and game playing with making an interactive story or simple game (guess the number). You'll see them quickly add complexity so they can "win" knowing a little trick etc, or just not care about it which is ok too. That could be within an existing framework or with some example code and a forgiving environment that had verbose error reporting.

Perhaps we should clearly separate electronics from electrical toys here, adding lights and motors with a battery and switch is within the grasp of most 5-7 year olds, again in support of their primary activities of story telling and make believe. Adding them as props or decoration to other craft projects. But electronics with abstract capacitances and transistors are going to remain magical things that you have to follow instructions to make work, which I'll argue is the worst kind of "education", they should understand and then explore what else can be done not just blindly follow recipes. Try getting a child under 10 to fully grasp AC vs DC, a few might, but its a tough gig.

I certainly found programming much more gratifying with its simple step by step evolution, until I had enough maths under control to be able to use simultaneous equations to understand circuits.
It's interesting how differently people approach things. I'm 40 years old and design complex electronics for a living; Unless I'm doing a high speed layout and calculating SI parameters or doing analog/RF design, it is exceedingly rare that I have to worry about this kind of analysis. I tend to design and think by "rules of thumb"; V=IR and basic algebra gets me very, very far.
Building a transistor amplifier to a recipe compared to calculating all the components by hand, one teaches while the other is rote training to ask for the answer. Kids love to impress adults they care about and just being involved will cause them excitement and pride, but what are the left with after the activity is done?
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #31 on: October 02, 2016, 12:36:53 am »

This is a 6 year old we're talking about? The Box says for 8+ years old. 2 years is a big difference at that age.


Those age ranges are only a guide.  The 'average' 6 year old may struggle, but if you have a 'with it' 6 year old, they may find it just the sort of thing they can really get into.

Only those who know the child will be able to make that call - but, from the sounds of it, I wouldn't shy away from it.  They may take to it straight away - or they may need a little help getting the first one or two projects up and running, but I get the sense that once they get the hang of it, they will take off on their own!
« Last Edit: October 02, 2016, 12:38:38 am by Brumby »
 

Offline aandrew

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #32 on: October 02, 2016, 04:07:20 pm »
This is a 6 year old we're talking about? The Box says for 8+ years old. 2 years is a big difference at that age.

My 4yo is very happy playing with snap circuits. I've never given much credence to the age recommendations on toys. My 7yo was playing with 12+ Lego kits since 6 as well. It's all about the kid and what they get from it.

Now I'll be the first to admit that my 4yo isn't learning quite the same as what an 8yo would from Snap Circuits, but he understands basic circuit flow, knows how to determine if he's shorted out the batteries by following the blue wire blocks, and understands that the motor spins faster when there aren't other blocks (lights or resistors) on the same path as the motor. Of course he doesn't understand the more complicated circuits or how the IC blocks contain miniature circuits like what he's building, but I see absolutely no reason why someone younger than 8 would not really enjoy the toy.

Quote
I had a spring terminal based 150in1 I bought for myself out of pocket money savings at 12. Dad would match my savings dollar for dollar if he felt it was a worthy thing. Neither of my parents had any electronics knowledge so I was self motivated in electronics interest. I was old enough to choose it myself. I imagine many here recommending similar did as well.

That's awesome; I too had one of those spring circuits (I dreamed of getting the 150 in one, but all I could get was the 30 in one). I really do enjoy these kits. They are incredible value and make experimenting with electronics easy.

Quote
I am getting a bit of a sense of religious zeal here in recommending electronics to a 6 year old. 6 is pretty young. That kit seems a bargain for what it is but you're right to run it by the childs parents. I think it is better to be guided by what the child wants and parents can help there. She might want a Barbie doll.

I am guilty of this, but I'm getting better at listening to my kids. Hell, they even got me into some model rocketry, which I've had a minor interest in but never played with. :-)
 

Offline aandrew

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #33 on: October 02, 2016, 04:10:52 pm »
If we're talking about the same Logo, you just gave me flashbacks of when I was a kid. My first ever computer was the Sharp MZ-800 which was based on the Z80 processor. I remember using Logo to create things then printing them out on a 4-colour plotter printer. Ended up selling that computer along with original monitor, 'Quick Disk' floppy drive, plotter printer and a bunch of tapes and disks for $50 in the 1990's. I wish I'd have kept it.

Yep, same thing. I was fortunate enough to get into an "enrichment" program in public school, and they introduced us to LOGO with a real, physical robot turtle connected on a LONG ribbon cable to (I think memory is fuzzy here) a Commodore PET.

I had a serious obsession with the C64 for many years; I finally sold them all about 10 years ago when I moved. I miss the thing, but also recognize that nostalgia ain't what it used to be. :-)
 

Offline timb

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #34 on: October 03, 2016, 10:00:49 pm »
It's so funny how many of us cut our teeth on the same things as kids.

One of my first memories is Christmas when I was 5 years old, getting a huge set of LEGOs.

I had *just* turned 7 when I got one of those "150-in-1" spring terminal kits. I very distinctly remember when I got it, too; I was away for the weekend with my uncle and my parents gave it to me when I got home! They had found it at a thrift store; it was essentially brand new, all the wires, the huge manual, the original box and everything. Years later, my mom told me that she was hesitant to buy it, because she thought it was way too advanced for a 7 year old, but my dad insisted. I had a habit of taking the appliances apart to see how they worked, so he felt that the kit might curtail that. It did!

Did anyone else here play with Capsela as a kid? I got a set when I was 8 and *holy shit* it blew my mind. Too me, they were even better than LEGOs! They were these clear plastic capsules that connected together via these short hexagonal tubes. There were various types of capsules: Motors, worm gears, differential drives, and sets of various gear ratios. There were also floats, wheels, treads, propellers, impellers, switches (plus wires), a battery pack, pumps, tubing and tons of other stuff!

So you could make little motorized platforms that rolled around, or with the floats and impellers/propellers you could make water based things! I learned so much about mechanics with that and it really helped give me a good foundation for locomotion when I started to build robots as a teenager.

They also came out with this motorized base; it could move in any direction and had several internal motors that you could use to mount other capsules on. It came with this big IR remote control that you could voice control! It could only learn 8 or so commands (this was the mid-90's, remember) but it still amazed me.

Good times, good times...
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic; e.g., Cheez Whiz, Hot Dogs and RF.
 
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Offline rrinker

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #35 on: October 04, 2016, 12:34:00 pm »
 Oh wow, almost forgot about that - I had some Capsela stuff. I was getting a little old for that by the time they came out, but I still had a lot of fun making various rolling contraptions and also propeller driven ones I ran in the pool.
 Building and creating toys were always my favorites. When I was very young, my Dad used to joke about going broke buying me batteries, one of my favorite 'toys' was a box full of 6V marker lights, wires, switches (both commercial and homemade ones - strip of brass, 2 nails in a block of wood) and 6V lantern batteries. I took that everywhere - my blanket forts had electric lights, and I would light up our camper (tent on wheels sort, no sink, lights, or stove). And Legos, I had a HUGE box full of them, no idea how many sets all told I had combined into that big box. In those days, about the only thing not square were quarter round 2x blocks, and the wheels. Still I managed to make a somewhat presentable Millennium Falcon after the first Star Wars movie came out. I also had a rather large Erector set, mine had 2 motors plus a 2 drum hoist. And the Radio Shack electronic kits - my first was the 20 in one which had each component on an individual plastic block (the code key in the 150 in one was a leftover from that) with 4 spring terminals, two connected to the component leads (3 if a transistor) and the other two were usually a pass through. You clipped the blocks together with plastic clips and then used L shaped metal clips in the spring terminals to wire the circuit. Then I moved on to the 100 in 1 and later the 150 in 1. I also had the computer kit the made, you wired the thing with a patch panel and then various key combinations would light up different lights. No actual logic circuit. All of this stuff I had pretty much before I was 10, most of it around 6-7. I was 11 when the TRS-80 Model 1 came out and captured my attention - couldn't afford one, but the manuals were sold separately for $5 each so I had them. Enrichment class in 7th grade, the teacher had a Model 1, in this plywood carrying case he built. He usually gave a choice, work on the computer or do some sort of chemistry experiment with him - I usually had the computer to myself.

Those were the days.

 
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Offline sycho123321

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #36 on: October 04, 2016, 04:26:07 pm »
+1 on the snap circuits! I got mine when I was around her age. I think i still have it around. My parents also got it so I would stop taking stuff apart  ;D
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Offline boffin

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #37 on: October 04, 2016, 07:58:26 pm »
Here's a bit of a left-field opinion.  Buy them an electric train set.  I learned all my basic wiring from hooking up points [switches], double tracking, signals etc off a fairly significant train set. Graduated to having it trigger things when I went over certain pieces of track etc etc.

Stuff like this:

From there, graduating into the concept of relays, and then logic circuits.
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #38 on: October 05, 2016, 02:38:44 pm »
 :-+  +1 can always use more model railroaders. This too was part of my early electrical education. I have home movie (8mm silent) evidence that I was running model trains at age 2. We didn't have room in our house for a permanent setup so we had one up from about Thanksgiving to New Year when I was a kid. I was 5 or 6, woke up on a Saturday and saw my Dad had finished the main line, so I tried to run a train. It got halfway around and stopped. I did some investigating and figured out where I needed to hook up additional wires, did so, and was able to run a train all the way around. When my Dad got home from work, I don't think he was too terribly surprised that I had figured this out myself.
 Still my main hobby, planning a basement size layout now that I have a basement to work in. Seems to sometimes skip a generation, neither of my boys is much interested - they both liked Thomas when they were little, and going on train rides, but never got into the hobby at all.

 

Offline sainter

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Re: Best Electronics Kit For Six Year Old
« Reply #39 on: October 06, 2016, 05:56:35 am »
+1 snap circuits, best part about them, you can start from a smaller kit and upgrade it as you go along.
 


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