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#1 of 10 Old 01-25-2007, 12:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Lately my 5 y.o. is interested in robots and mechanics. He loves playing with bionicles- making his own up, and following the kit instructions for building them. I was thinking about getting him k'inex but would love to hear other suggestions.

We tried meccano (sp?) but he likes "real" tools better than those tiny little things that come with the packages. He'd love to build a robot but I have no idea where to go with that one. Are there any good kits available? We also had an electricity kit where he'd connect wires to a battery pack to make a light bulb go on, or a little fan spin. (I loved telling people that my ds was "playing with electricity" ) Any ideas along those lines would be great.
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#2 of 10 Old 01-25-2007, 03:41 AM
 
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He might like Snap Circuit kits. They come with circuits and a circuit board and you can make different things happen by plugging in various snap circuit. They are very fun My son also like Magnetix (not good if you have a wee one in the house). We build various things from recycled materials too.

~Joan, Happy mom to 2 beautiful kiddos, one new puppy and 2 lovely felines
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#3 of 10 Old 01-25-2007, 10:21 AM
 
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I also recommend snap circuits. It's what like you described (making a fan spin, making a radio), but it's easier to create the circuits. My dh still likes playing with them (cough, helping! He's not playing, he's helping!).

We also have regular K'Nex and have had great experiences with it. I will say that some of the pieces are hard to snap together. A lot is going to depend on your child's fine motor muscle strength. But the instructions are colorful and do not require reading. Also, the tubs have plans for things that go from Level 1 (one-dimensional) up to 3 or so. So it allows for diversity in ability. We have a big tub of them. And, of course, the child can invent his/her own things with it.

We also have Meccano, but like you, it wasn't the best toy for my son. The instructions were so complicated that my highly technical BIL was unable to make the fire truck for my son. On the bright side, the components can still be used in a freestyle way. My son often uses it to make "tools". He enjoys bolting the pieces together, but the instructions are out of his ability for now.

I'm trying to think of what else we have. I think those are the main things. My son saw a "Robot Day" at the Science Center with exhibitions by local schools. Since then, he's been desperate to make a robot. I cannot wait for the day when he's old enough to use Lego Mindstorms and join a league. He's going to love that! In the meantime, Snap Circuits, K'Nex, Mecanno, and Lego are his regulars.
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#4 of 10 Old 01-25-2007, 11:56 AM
 
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Lego Mindstorms looks interesting - it's something I'm keeping an eye on for my son. They look to be a little much for now, but definitely worth checking out. (Also, search on YouTube for Mindstorm videos - my six year old was RAPT. Seriously.)

Snap Circuits seem o.k., to me, if a little "canned". Could you maybe find a more advanced version of the electrical set you have to allow a little more freedom and possibility for failure? You might also check out American Science Surplus and their section on robot parts. They've got all kinds of motors, gears and so forth - a box of those would sure keep a kid busy! (Plus, the prices are excellen!)
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#5 of 10 Old 01-25-2007, 12:00 PM
 
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snap circuits sound interesting!

we just bought a book called Simple Machines by Deborah Hodge

you use very simple household items to make pulleys and such. we haven't done any yet but we are excited about it.

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#6 of 10 Old 01-25-2007, 12:04 PM
 
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The thing about snap circuits (i.e. "canned") is that electronic components function in a very specific way. It teaches the function of things like resistors and capacitors. Those functions have to be understood well in order to freelance with electronics. Failure to use them appropriately can result in personal injury or destruction of the components. So I see them as setting a basic foundation in electronics. The kit we have by Elenco has tons of projects. Here is the review, if anyone is interested.
http://tinyurl.com/ywpkao

We avoided the "Jr" sets simply because they did seem to have a low ceiling, IYKWIM.

Thank you for listing the surplus site! I am going to check that out!
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#7 of 10 Old 01-25-2007, 03:33 PM
 
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When the boys were interested in robots and building things and after we exhausted all possibilities from the electricity kits we started letting them take things apart and look at all the parts inside. Trying to figure out what things do, etc. We had an old computer that they took apart (you can see pics on our website) and they also had fun with a toaster and a blender that didn't work anymore that someone gave us off freecycle.
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#8 of 10 Old 01-25-2007, 04:43 PM
 
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Another vote for Snap Circuits! As someone mentioned, you can do lots of neat things with changing just one variable to understand how the electronics work. The 'snap' element also eliminates a lot of frustration and fiddling.
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#9 of 10 Old 01-25-2007, 04:47 PM
 
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I got this kit from Lego Education that builds simple and complex machines, including building up to build motorized machines. I am amazed at how well he is doing, he just did his third model (a drawbridge) and did most of it himself. The kit was pretty expensive so I hope that he is interested and learns for a long time. Lots of gears, axles, pulleys etc. We are also doing a class where they learned to build a motorized car - that is why I bought the kit, he didn't have that much experience but just the past few days practicing at home with him he has gotten a lot better. And it is fun for me too!

I think Knex and some other brands may have similar kits. I wanted to use Lego because I would love to do the Mindstorms robots with him when he is ready.


This is the kit I got:

http://www.legoeducation.com/store/d...r&by=20&ID=341

I did not look that much before I got it, and they have a simpler kit I might have ordered if I had seen it, but he is doing great with the one I got.
http://www.legoeducation.com/store/d...39&by=9&ID=392
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#10 of 10 Old 01-25-2007, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frogguruami View Post
When the boys were interested in robots and building things and after we exhausted all possibilities from the electricity kits we started letting them take things apart and look at all the parts inside. Trying to figure out what things do, etc. We had an old computer that they took apart (you can see pics on our website) and they also had fun with a toaster and a blender that didn't work anymore that someone gave us off freecycle.
That's too funny! My ds has lately been taking things apart too. He totally dismantled a large- might I add working- oscilating fan a couple weeks ago (unbeknownst to us!) Today he asked me about the old toaster oven in the basement. We went to see kilobots battling it out at the engineering college last week, and that only added fuel to the fire!

DH is going in to the city tomorrow, so I am sending him some of these links. This is really more his thing than mine, so I will pass along the ideas and let him pick what he thinks is best. He was telling me about building simple robots with things like batteries, paperclips, etc. I will post a link if we find a good site. Thanks everyone for all the great ideas!
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