Man is growing ever dependent on electronic items from telecommunications to home security to entertainment and even to the world of children’s toys. In fact, if one were to look carefully at the things we have at home from the living room all the way to the kitchen dining room, bedroom, and bathroom, most of the items we have there run on some form of electricity. Electronic items are so commonplace that children will naturally be inclined to ask questions as to how such devices actually work. Take for example a phonograph. It may seem odd that a boxy contraption with a turntable can actually produce lovely music or that a simple desktop projector can produce stunning visuals at night. For us these are all part of modern life. But for children, their curiosity demands answers. Rather than giving them something to read about how these devices work, it’s a lot better to give them something to build. The Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit is essentially designed and built for such a purpose. And this is what we are going to focus our review in this article.
The Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit
In the world of online commerce, it is already considered an accomplishment to obtain a rating of 4.5 stars from several hundreds of product reviewers. Just imagine how a 4.8 rating from a few thousands would mean. The Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit is the latter. If we are to trust the ratings system of Amazon, then the SC-300 is technically the cream of the crop, the undisputed leader, and the most trusted product when it comes to teaching children early or beginning concepts in electronics. With 2,700 reviewers, 87 percent of whom gave their much sought-after 5 stars, the SC-300 simply wowed the crowd. Except for some issues in the handling and delivery as well as other issues, which we shall be examining a lot more closely later on, the SC-300 rightfully deserves the bestseller trademark.
Elenco designs and produces the SC-300 as one of its signature electronics kits product line for kids. The general philosophy of the toy kit is pretty similar to that of LEGO and other building and construction play sets. However, instead of snapping a brick onto another building block, patented SC-300 components are snapped onto a base board that serves as the kit’s model circuit board. If you’re familiar with the LEGO play systems with an extra-large rectangular building brick panel serving as the foundation for all the different bricks in the play set, then the Elenco SC-300 base board is essentially the same. This is composed of hexagonal slots as well as screws for fastening the different electronic components of the Snap Circuits SC-300. All kids have to do is to get the correct electronic component, snap it into place in one of these hex slots, connect the different components together, and watch the miracle of electricity come to life.
The Snap Circuits SC-300 is essentially a model building kit. Instead of erecting buildings, making cars and airplanes, and even creating a World War II Tiger or Panzer replica, your kid will be making electric gadgets like a simple buzzer, a water detection alarm, a light alarm that uses 2 transistors, a fan with a delayed action mechanism, or even a spacey fan as well as more than 300 other electronics building projects to choose from. If your kid is not a super whiz, this means an electronic gadget project at least every single day for the rest of the year. However, this is where some of the critics of the Snap Circuits SC-300 are showing their teeth. Some say that their kids get easily bored with the projects included in the kit. Some kids can actually finish a simple electronics project within minutes. While we do recognize the fact that there will always be kids who have the natural tendency to get easily bored with repetitive activities, we also believe that the Snap Circuits SC-300 does a splendid job of keeping average kids really focused on what they are doing. Besides, the Snap Circuits SC-300 can actually be upgraded to more complex electronic kits. So, if you think your child is already bored to death playing with the different electronic projects on the SC-300 base board, why not upgrade the kit to the SC-500 or even the SC-750? As many of the positive reviewers said, the SC-300 never fails in its primary purpose of introducing electronics and electrical concepts to children at least 8 years of age in a very fun and engaging manner.
The Snap Circuits SC-300 is different from other Elenco products only in terms of the number of electronic projects that can be built out of a certain number of parts. For instance, the SC-300 guarantees a minimum of 300 electrical projects with about 60 or so parts while the Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 is considered by many as a great starter kit with 100 projects from 30 parts. The ultimate in Elenco’s line is the SC-750 comprising of more than 80 parts or components to enable kids to build more than 750 projects. Midway between the SC-300 and the SC-750 is the SC-500 with 500 projects from 75 parts.
Playing the Snap Circuits is as simple as identifying the correct piece to be used in a particular project. This is easy since the pieces are all designed with their respective colors and numbers. All they have to do is to look at the accompanying project diagram and snap away. The SC-300 comes with snap wires, resistors, capacitors, slide switches, and even a microphone as well as other electronic parts and components.
The Snap Circuits effectively grows with your child, which further adds to its overall appeal. As we have already pointed out earlier your kid will never get bored with the Snap Circuits; especially if you keep on expanding the collection with more electronic projects as well as electrical parts. It should be noted that, like all other building blocks, the Snap Circuits presents itself as an open-ended tool. You’ve got the parts and you know the function of each individual part. Now, it’s up to your kid’s imagination and creativity to come up with something totally new, something definitely not in the manual. Otherwise, the child will only be relying on instructions and cannot really be called a whiz kid. True whiz kids never get bored with anything because they will often find something very useful even from the most boring of all objects and situations.
We examined the negative comments about the Snap Circuits SC-300 by very dissatisfied customers. A great majority of the concerns were on defective or even missing components or parts of the ordered sets. As far as we are concerned these are issues that are more of a production concern rather than an inherent flaw in the design of the product. Besides, Elenco provides guarantee for manufacturing defects so we believe it’s not really a concern. And with 87 percent representing almost 2,350 5-star reviews compared to the 20-plus who gave the product a 1-star rating, we still believe that the SC-300 is a great product to give to our kids.
What Kids Can Benefit from Snap Circuits
It should be fairly obvious what Snap Circuits SC-300 can bring to the table especially when it comes to advancing the developmental needs of children. While it is true that the item is geared primarily for 8-year old children, we have seen some parents who allowed their younger kids to try their hands on the kit, especially those with autism. We cannot really guarantee that such a product will work for your kid but, if we are to examine what the thousands of parents have been saying about the product, these can be broken down into the following benefits.
- Enhances motor skills – Snapping the different parts into the hex slots require superb control of the muscles of the hand. This also involves a great deal of spatial awareness and intelligence especially in the placement of the different parts in relation to the surrounding space. Additionally, the visual motor component of the process is enhanced because of the integration of visual inputs and the management of fine motor movements.
- Stimulates divergent problem solving – Sure, the SC-300 comes with a concise and very graphic instruction manual to help children build their first electronic devices. But, like all building play sets, the real measure of a kid’s talent is in his or her ability to work without referring to such manuals. This is the essence of discovery. By giving the right tools, children can technically discover and learn for themselves the many infinite possibilities of mixing and matching the different components to create something totally new. This requires a beginning understanding of the what-if principle of divergence. Here, children begin to expand their imagination, thinking of many different ways in which the different parts can be pieced together to form something new. For us, we call it creativity. But experts call it divergent thinking. This is the process of coming up with as many possible solutions to a single problem and is often contrasted with convergence wherein a single problem can only be solved by a single unique solution.
- Introduces electrical and STEM concepts – Science and technology concepts are not very easy to understand to most kids. However, by letting children actually perform tasks that are related to such concepts rather than merely listening to the lectures of their teachers, they are able to understand and retain many of the important concepts and principles related to such subjects. This can help pave the way for a career in the engineering sciences or even in mathematics. The point is, by actively “performing” these principles, children are able to learn more of these concepts.
- Boosts self-esteem and self-confidence – We have always maintained the idea that children who are able to create something, regardless of whether it is by following detailed instructions or by experimenting with their creativity, will help boost their self-confidence. This will then help them feel great about their selves. In a world where chronic low self-esteem is actually seen as a sign of severely weakened psyche, boosting the self-esteem can really help promote a healthier mental state, even for kids. Boosting the self-esteem can also improve a child’s social interactions or the way he or she deals with other people.
- Calms the mind – We’ve encountered quite several parents saying how the SC-300 has helped their kids with autism and even ADHD. In these conditions, the kid’s mind is very anxious because it is in constant flux. By focusing on the electronic projects, the mind can be calmed down to a more manageable state, inducing a more relaxed state, and minimizing the need for antianxiety medications. We are not saying that the Snap Circuits SC-300 is a cure for such conditions, though. What we just like to point out is the fact that by focusing one’s mental energies on a particular task, the brain will no longer be processing other information that reach it simply because it is already preoccupied on the current task.
The Bottom Line
The Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit has all the right reasons to be considered the bestseller in electronic kits for kids. Despite some issues in parts reliability, the company’s guarantees essentially covers this, making the product a really superb gift to present to children who have a knack for everything electronic.