The big kid asked for a Snap Circuits kit over a year ago, but they're not exactly cheap, and we weren't sure it would be of any interest to her once she actually got into the box, so she never got any. She was thrilled to learn that we could check a kit out from the district's homeschool resource library, and has enjoyed her borrowed kits quite a bit these last weeks.
Then I saw this one at Goodwill and nabbed it for a cool $6. This is basically the Snap Circuits "Extreme" (ha!) 750 kit although it's a slightly older kit that appears to have been produced for Radio Shack and has a couple of minor differences. All of the parts work and the kit is complete except for the computer interface software, which she isn't ready for and it sounds like to company will replace for free if she was, so no big deal. If she maintains interest we might expand her kit at Christmas. The Snap Rover looks pretty cool. Yesterday she made a low frequency oscillator that sounded like robotic rain on the one hand, and a bit like a fart on the other once she replaced the resistor and pushed the slider bar all the way to the right, so we're probably in for the long haul.
Her dad and I spent a good half an hour last night figuring out precisely where all the parts are supposed to fit in the tray, which means we're soul mates.
I'm considering ordering the student guide, but probably not unless she continues to be excited about making circuits for some time. No need to ruin a perfectly good hands-on experience with electronics. Just for fun I requested a few resources from the library about electricity and Nikola Tesla, who I personally find fascinating. Just a little easygoing, spontaneous summer science.
I would be a complete liar if I said I didn't hope this portends well for Mindstorms in our future. Those look amazing.