Gift Guide: Snap Circuits for the Inquisitive Pre-Teen

SCRoverWe were delighted to receive this request from a reader yesterday —

Greatlakesborn: I’m looking for birthday ideas for a 9-year-old girl.  She is pretty active and inquisitive. Thanks!

We know we’ve been a little thin on the recommendations for that age, so we’re absolutely thrilled to respond to this request. Today we’re going to talk about Snap Circuits, a physics toy that comes in kits at a range of price points to build everything from radios to rovers.

If you’ve read much of this blog, you know how concerned I am personally and professionally with girls’ and women’s underrepresentation in STEM. By high school, girls take fewer STEM AP exams than boys, especially in physics and computer science. This gift request immediately prompted me to think about foundational skills for physics success. I’ve written a lot in the past about spatial and mechanical skill. What about skills for physics? Enter: circuits.

Snap Circuits are geared toward the pre-teen crowd. The kits involve assembling circuits and typically, other moving parts, to build a creation with a purpose. That’s what I love about these kits — you have to learn the circuitry to build them, but they have some re-play value and motivation in their secondary purpose (as a radio, flying saucer, etc.). There are so many different kits, you’re sure to be able to find an enticing hook to get your child interested in building.

The Flying Saucer kit is one of the most affordable, at $15.

SCSaucerSupport Fair Play and buy the Flying Saucer kit here

As a huge NPR nerd, my personal favorite is the FM radio kit ($27 way cheaper than an iPod, parents!). You can also use it to build a few other similar things — AM Radio, door bell, and others.

SCRadioSupport Fair Play and buy the FM Radio kit here

At the higher end, the Rover kit is quite snazzy, and has add-on packs to make it even more special.

SCRover2Support Fair Play and buy the Rover kit here

We also think the Green Energy kit is very cool (though a bigger ticket item — $52).

SCGreenEnergySupport Fair Play and purchase the Green Energy kit here

Of course, Snap Circuits also come in larger kits without a particular theme.

You can find our round-up of Snap Circuits, including many other themed kits, in our Amazon Store.

One add-on we do recommend for any of these kits is the power pack so you aren’t constantly replacing batteries if your child just loves that FM radio they built and wants to run it all the time. You can find that here.

Gift Guide is a series in which we respond to YOUR requests for reviews for books, toys, movies, or anything else you can think of, for gift-giving or otherwise. As always, you can find most of our recommendations in our Amazon Storefront. Looking for something in particular? Leave us a note on our Facebook page or on our website at Request a Review and we’ll write you a post in response!

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