The 10 Best Electronics Kits for Kids
This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in February of 2018. Whether you want your children to excel in their STEM studies or you think they might want to become electronics engineers, these electronics kits for kids are a great way to pique their interest. We've ranked them here by their ease of assembly, potential for fun, and educational qualities. But electricity can still be dangerous, so make sure your youngsters are supervised appropriately. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
August 17, 2020:
The last iteration of this ranking included a handful of robotic toys, some of which were meant to be constructed, while others came already assembled and merely offered users the opportunity to code some of their behaviors. Since we already have a list of robots for kids, these seemed largely redundant, and with the exception of the 4M Tin Can Robot, they offered very little window into the world of electronics.
In their places we included some great new kits, like the Snap Circuits Green Alternative, which focuses on renewable energy resources as opposed to simply running on some AAs or a 9-volt. Most of its components work pretty well, but if you're worried you kid might be looking for an excuse to bash green energy, it might be a risk, as its solar cell performs poorly.
One thing to know about these sets is that their claims about the number of experiments they can do is often overblown, which is why the Playz Advanced Circuit Board earned such a high spot on our list. If all these claims are overblown, then the kit that promises over 300 activities is sure to have a larger handful of winners than the kit with 50.
The most exciting addition to this list, at least to my mind, comes in the special honors section, where we feature the MicroKits Theremin. Not only does it offer the educational opportunity in building it, it also has the potential to open kids' minds about the nature of electricity itself, and how our bodies interact with electromagnetism all around us.
May 08, 2019:
Given the company's track record and the tremendously entertaining final product, the Lego Boost Toolbox retained its spot at number one. A big upgrade came to the Elegoo kit, the size and scope of which were enough to skyrocket it up the list. The company also sends out randomized selections of certain version components, making it a smart choice for parents with more than one child interested in electricity, as the two sets you get might not be perfectly identical and may cause your kids to work together to get to know each other's sets. A newcomer to the list is the Boolean Box, which allows youngsters to build their own computers from scratch, and that's targeted to a female audience. It ousted the Sphero robot, which had less to teach kids about electricity or coding than we'd hoped, and acted instead as more of an RC racer that you control with your phone.
MicroKits Theremin This musical instrument is designed to create a pair of electromagnetic fields that respond to the proximity of human hands, with one sensor rod increasing the volume of an audible tone, and the other controlling its pitch. It's an outstanding choice for a budding electrical genius or a young experimental musician, and it's pretty easy to put together. microkits.net
Why Kids Should Learn About Electricity
The creators of these kits are smart enough to know that kids grow up, get smarter, and often want to know more.
It may seem silly at first to teach kids the ins and outs of basic electricity. After all, can’t they just run down to the genius bar if their computer starts acting up? To a certain degree, there’s a good argument here: technology is getting so much more complex now than it was just a generation ago, that a basic understanding of electrical principles won’t go too far toward fixing much around the house.
But learning about electricity is about more than just electricity. Within every connection that passes a current, whether we’re talking about a potato light bulb or a microprocessor, there’s a greater lesson to be learned about the nature of reality, about how electrons move, interact with their neighbors, and define our very existence. That could lead to some pretty enlightening philosophical conversations with your kiddos. And if you don’t think kids are natural philosophers, than you’ve never gotten caught in a “But why?” loop in which every answer you have to a child’s question is met with a deeper interrogation.
Kids are naturally curious; there’s no denying it. And electronics kits give them an opportunity to satisfy some of that curiosity. But if you’re genuinely worried that it isn’t going to be enough, that our technology is moving too quickly for a rudimentary understanding of electricity to matter in the modern smart home, try to remember that this is foundational learning. The creators of these kits are smart enough to know that kids grow up, get smarter, and often want to know more.
The options on our list run the gamut from the rudimentary to the advanced, teaching kids the absolute basics of electricity, and allowing them to grow into more specialized offerings that will introduce them to things like circuit boards and computer code. Some even go so far as to simplify that coding education in imaginative and relatable ways that will lay a foundation in “if not this, that” logic that can carry through to a lifetime of complex programming. You might even find yourself learning to code right alongside your offspring, which can make you feel less like technology is leaving you behind.
Maybe the kit you buy will launch a career in the sciences that will earn your child a nobel prize in physics, help the next generation of astronauts reach Mars and beyond, or make discoveries that could cure diseases or vastly improve our way of life. Or maybe the kit will merely help them get a better grade in science class. Whatever the result, there are too many good reasons to get your kids an electronics kit to ignore.
A Word About Safety
Of all the lessons an electronics kit can teach a child, one that we hope they never have to learn the hard way is that electricity is dangerous. To help ensure this, carefully pay attention to things like recommended ages for a given kit, and read the instructions thoroughly before handing the reins off to your child.
It would also be smart to make sure they never play with their electronics kit when you aren’t at least in the room, and preferably only when you’re there to help and supervise. If there are live wires of any voltage involved in these experiments, make sure that you and your youngsters are outfitted with things like insulated gloves, and no matter the nature of the experiment, it’s always vital to don protective eye wear.
Safety habits start young, and if you can instill a sense of responsibility in your child from an early age, they’ll take that with them into their labs at school and beyond. Then, when they survive a cataclysmic explosion in their secret government testing facility and emerge with superpowers, they’ll have you to thank.
Other Great STEM Toys For Kids
It’s every parent’s greatest dream and worst nightmare rolled into one, at least as far as gift giving is concerned: you get your child the perfect present, they play with it all day and all night, and then they stop caring. Maybe they use up all the raw materials it came with, maybe they break it, and maybe they simply don’t have anything more to learn from it. Whatever the case, it’s on you to make sure that the passion the gift inspired on that first day never dies.
Of course, keeping their love for STEM subjects alive is a great way to help ensure they choose a career path that has a big upside.
To achieve this, you could buy multiple gifts from our selection of electronics toys, but if your kids show interest on other science fields, or if they simply age out of our selection, you’re going to need to look elsewhere. Of course, keeping their love for STEM subjects alive is a great way to help ensure they choose a career path that has a big upside. The world needs more scientists, more engineers, and more daring minds than ever before.
Other great ways to keep your kids interested in STEM fields include things like chemistry sets or microscopes. These tools will help prepare your kids for the kinds of experiments they’ll regularly be doing in high school, and they’ll also help them build out their very own laboratory, and the lessons learned in that space will last a lifetime.
There are also some great robotics kits on the market that are a perfect next step for kids who loved the electronics kit you got them. They’ll probably have a little extra talent and know-how going into building or programming a robot, which will inspire confidence in their work and keep them excited about new lessons and discoveries. And if your child turns out to be the human responsible for giving birth to the robotic artificial intelligence that eventually wipes out or enslaves mankind, you’ll have bragging rights like no one else.