Electricity and Magnetism

Switch On!

Innovative Electronic Building Blocks
Cover: 'Switch On!'
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This kit is one of a number of kits aimed at giving children hands on experiments with electronics. It includes a battery holder, 2 capacitors, 2 resistors, 1 pot, 2 bipolar transistors, 2 leds, speaker, mike, motor, a variety of switches, 4 "IC's" and a few other parts.
light emitting diode
The unit and connector mechanism is the thing that sets this kit apart from most other kits. The schematic symbol is the predominant feature of most of the elements. This makes the experiment itself look like a schematic diagram. Since I am an electrical engineer this is what convinced me to buy this kit (a little more expensive than it's Radio Shack counterparts). The schematic symbols are usually meaningful icons of what the electronics REALLY are and do.
However, while the idea is fetching the implementation is lacking. Immediately out of the box some connections were hard to make and prone to intermittancy. Simply put, the first circuit we put together did not work until we substituted some parts!! The connectors are like a specialized snap. But the connections aren't always sound; and this can cause an experiment to fail through no fault of the student. This is a fatal flaw. For this reason I don't recommend this kit.
The documentation comes in two parts. One is just pictures of the circuits (schematics but with keyed colors so they are easier to read for little ones). The other offers explanations. The explanations for this kit are very average. Lastly, it seems that most kits fall short when it comes to their "IC's". This, like most kits, treats them as black boxes with no insight into what is happening within them. It is more like magic than science when building circuits with them.

Note: The product is made in China

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Switch On! Switch Off!

Book cover: 'Switch On! Switch Off!'
Author(s): 
Melvin Berger
Copyright: 
1989
Publisher: 
Harper Collins
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

A very simple children's book designed to explain how electricity works and how it is harnessed to be used in everyday life. The thing my husband (the electrical engineer) liked about this book was that it, quite simply, doesn't have any flaws. It is simple, but substantive.

Review Date: 
3-20-01
Reviewed by: 

What Makes a Magnet?

Book cover: 'What Makes a Magnet?'
Author(s): 
Franklyn M. Branley
Copyright: 
1996
Publisher: 
Harper Collins
Series: 
Let's Read and Find Out Science
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

What Makes a Magnet? constitutes a fairly substantial introduction to magnets for children approximately ages 5 to 9. They are invited to do a little discovery for themselves by doing some "fishing" with a magnet in a box of miscellaneous objects and see what things the magnet will pick up. The book goes on to explain that magnets pick up, not everything made of metal, but objects which contain iron in particular. Also explained are how to make your own magnet and compass, the poles of magnets and the earth, and the history of the discovery of the first magnets (lodestones) and how they were used for early navigation. This is a very nice early science book (despite a few "corny" pictures) because of the rich content in a simple format and how the book actively involves the child in the learning process.

Review Date: 
12-27-99
Reviewed by: