Electronics kits have come a long way since I was a child! I remember using wires with crocodile clips, screw in bulb holders, and regular batteries to make circuits. It was magical seeing your circuit work and the bulb light up, but it was frustrating too as wires often broke, crocodile clips detached and the circuits fell apart.
Fast forward, several years, (we won’t go into how many!) and my daughter is discovering the magic of creating electrical circuits but with a kit light years ahead of anything I had. I recently had the opportunity to test out the Edison Kit from LightUp and she was very excited to be my co-tester.
LightUp make modular electronics kits. The Edison Kit is their starter kit, they also offer a Tesla Kit and just launched the Faraday Kit on Kickstarter this week.
The Edison comes with a collection of modular electronics components and is designed to be used in conjunction with the free LightUp Learning – LightUp app. It comes in a sturdy storage box with magnetic lid closure and slots for each component. This kit includes: a Battery Module (with replaceable watch battery), Red LED Module , Buzzer Module , Light Sensor Module , Momentary Switch Module , 4 Wire Modules and a red USB- mini-USB cable.
The app currently has 6 projects for the Edison Kit – Morse Code Beeper, Nightlight, Dimmer, Conductivity Tester, Light Sensor and Light Beeper with more “coming soon.”
The included projects are designed to be used in order and you need to complete earlier projects to unlock later ones. The projects start simply and get more complex, with new components introduced as you work your way through the projects. For each project the app starts out by showing the child which components they will need. It then goes on to explain basic terms such as input and output blocks, and tells the child about any new components they will be using in the current project. For components which have polarity it explains which way round they need to be for the current to flow. Then it shows what the completed circuit should look like.
The child then makes their own circuit from the assembled parts, all the components are magnetic so they join together easily without the need for clips or connectors. At this stage the augmented reality comes into play – the child uses the iPad to take a picture of their circuit and the app checks each component to see if it is correct. If the circuit has been built correctly the child sees virtual reality current flow through the picture of their circuit, if not they get hints on how to fix it.
My two sons both love electronics and STEM – related toys, games and projects and I want to show my daughter that these can be just as fun and interesting for girls, so I chose her to be my product tester and co-reviewer for the Edison kit. She really enjoyed putting the circuits together to create the different projects and was able to complete them all with no asssistance. I deliberately put one together with components in the wrong order and she was able to show me how to put it together correctly. She liked how the magnetic connectors made it easy to connect the components and how she got to “see” the currently flowing when the project was complete. I really liked how the app and projects naturally introduced physics concepts, and taught her about the various components as she used them. I sat with her when she did the projects so we could talk about what she was doing and what she had created, but she did not need any assistance to complete the projects. All the instructions are written, and have illustrations to accompany them. My daughter just turned 8 and could read the instructions (in fact she insisted that she read them herself), but the kit is also suitable for younger elementary school children so it would be nice to have an option to hear the directions too. This would allow children who are not yet confident readers to complete the projects independently, and benefit from the explanations even if they can’t read them.
Once a project has been completed the child can do that project again but can’t use the camera to check the circuit as it saves the picture of the previously completed project. The only way I could find to circumvent this is to uninstall and re-install the app. I would like to see an update to the app adding a button that lets you remove a saved picture to let you check the circuit again.
My daughter really enjoyed using the LightUp Edison Kit and I would highly recommended it as a fun introduction to STEM for children from kindergarten through 3rd grade, older children might be better with LightUp Tesla or Faraday Kits. The Edison kit is easy to use, has clear directions and the augmented reality adds a fun component by bringing the concept of flowing current to life.
The Edison Kit has an RRP of $49.99, available from Amazon, LightUp.com and other retailers.
LightUp’s newest kit the Faraday has just launched on Kickstarter and adds coding and new features you can read about it here.
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.
Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).