Kit contains over 60 pieces, including snap wires, a slide switch, a microphone, capacitors, a fan propeller, a resistor, a buzzer and other pieces, an assembly pegboard, and 74 page illustrated instruction manual.
Each electronic part has been attached to thick plastic to make the snap piece. Each snap piece has two metal snaps on the ends, like the ones you might find on some clothing. Each piece can then be snapped onto the pegboard or connected to one another to complete the circuit. Get it? SNAP Circuits? Because they use snaps….
Each piece is numbered so it’s easy to know exactly which pieces are needed to go where on every configuration.
Requires 4 AA Batteries which are not included.
The instruction manual can be seen here, in case your copy gets lost or damaged.
Follow the instructions to build 300 different circuit configurations. About half of the projects are quite different from each other, with the other 150 needing just little adjustments that change how the circuit works. This does not take away from the educational value of the toy. Learning the impact that moving just one piece has on the whole teaches a great deal about what that particular circuit needs to function.
We agree with the recommended age of 8 and up. Getting all the configurations to work challenges a child’s patience, attention to detailed instructions, hand-eye coordination, and ability to troubleshoot and think critically through problems. Many kids under 8 may find this set too challenging in these areas, so we would recommend the Snap Circuits Jr for younger kids. It’s got a very similar premise, but with less parts and less complicated experiments.
While we’ve received a fair number of users saying this kit is good for high school students and early teens, we want to point out that Elenco does make sets more advanced than the 300. We briefly describe these in the Parts and Pieces section, below.
At 74 full-color pages, the instruction booklet is everything a kid needs to build the 300 included experiments, as well as learn some basic knowledge on what makes a circuit function or fail. With that said, this kit is intended to teach kids by having them go through the motions of actually building the circuits. It’s not a textbook, and can’t match that level of explanation.
However, if the child wants to really understand more about why a circuit failed or succeeded, the manufacturer produces a fantastic 137 full-color page Student Guide that explains the science behind the experiments. This guide is an additional fee, and it’s certainly not required for enjoying this kit. It does add another level of understanding, though, so it might be a consideration for those who want to know the why and not just the how. In short, the Student Guide transforms this toy into a much more educational set.
Older sets, created prior to 2003, had the potential for batteries to short circuit and overheat if a child accidentally connected them incorrectly. Changes were made, though, so models made after 2003 have been fixed with measures to stop batteries from shorting that badly. Is it still possible to overheat a battery? Of course. It just now shouldn’t happen easily, even when mistakes are made.
- Wipe down individual pieces with a damp cloth and allow to fully dry
Parts and Pieces
4 AA Batteries are required. All other parts needed to complete the 300 experiments are included in the kit.
Other available kits are targeted for different age groups. We found the Snap Circuits Jr to be a good starter set for children in the 5 to 8 year range.
For teens who want to know more about circuits, the Snap Circuits Pro has 500 configurations to complete.
If electronics is more than just a passing entertainment, the Extreme kit comes with 750 experiments and is meant for older teens who really want to be challenged.
Elenco also makes a Student Electronics Training Program which has all the same parts found in the Extreme Kit, but includes the Student Guide, the Teacher’s Guide, and a very nice carrying case that stores all the pieces.
The Student Guide can be purchased separately as an addition to any of the sets. Here's a sample of it, courtesy of Elenco.
This kit is well made and careful attention to safety is clearly present. However, we still recommend having an adult read through the safety warnings along with children to ensure that everybody is on the same page as to what actions may be potentially dangerous.