My son is a self-proclaimed science geek. He says it with pride at just 9 years of age! He’s not the only one. Lots of his friends love being “geeks”, because face it, one day they will run the world. They will be the leaders, the inventors and the explorers. They love technology, biology, robotics, chemistry and more. In fact, a popular gift for a lot of the birthday parties we’ve been going to are circuit kits, that help kids explore electricity, power and technology. A lot of it fits into the STEM program, which I am sure many parents have heard of.
Never heard of STEM? Well, STEM stands for education that is based on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The skills and knowledge learned in STEM programs are intertwined with real world studies, so students can see how it applies to society at large. It’s pretty awesome.
Speaking of awesome, there are two kits from LightUp that uses a mixture of “blocks” and an app to guide kids through the actual project at their own pace. It explains what they are doing and why they are doing it. Blocks seems like too simple of a term.
There are actually simple and complex magnetic components that your children will learn to put together to build projects like nightlights and buzzers, music boxes and tv remotes. Components include:
- LED lights,
- light sensors,
- momentary switch
When I first learned about LightUp there were two kits available. Currently there is a third kit that will be on Kickstarter for funding mid-May. The kits (current and upcoming) include:
Edison: A good way to begin at an affordable $49.99. It eases children into a world of electronics, where kids can build creative projects like dimmers and buzzers with the components provided, following the instructions on the app. The app keeps track of what the child is building by having them photograph their progress using their iPhone or iPad or other device. It can then tell them they are on the right track or suggest fixes. This is the kit we received for review for my 9 year old. I would probably suggest the Tesla for more projects, activities and components right from the get-go, though. This kit is good for ages 5 -7. More projects will become available through the app.
The kit is named after Thomas Edison, an American inventor that developed the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the electric light bulb.
Tesla: This kit might have been a better fit for my child’s age. Its components include a Rechargeable Battery, Microcontroller, Speaker, Light Sensor, Momentary Switch, 5k Resistor, Wire blocks (7), and Micro USB Cable. The LightUp Learning app teaches them how to code an included Arduino-based microcontroller block using a web browser. Some projects they can create are a burglar alarm, musical instrument, and TV remote. More projects will become available through the app.
This kit is named after Nikola Tesla, a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist that was a proponent of our modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.
Faraday: I know nothing about this kit except it will be available on Kickstarter mid-May! The kit is named after Michael Faraday, who was an English scientist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include those of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.
How can you learn more about LightUp and purchase these kits?
- Visit their website to purchase direct!
- Check out LightUp on Amazon, sometimes they have GREAT deals.
- Follow LightUp on Twitter or Facebook for their latest app updates and kit releases.
Final say: These kits and apps are on the right track. If you can afford the larger kits, I’d go with the Tesla and maybe the Faraday. (I think that one will be bigger). I think those kits will offer more fun and learning for your money, when combined with the app, for our science geeks!