Best Electronic Kits for Kids and Beginners TechnoBuffalo 2019

STEM toys are more popular today than they have ever been before. With a variety of different electronic kits, you can learn the basics, snap together circuit boards, create projects, and plenty more. Of course, finding the electronic kit that works best for you or your kids isn't always an easy task. The best of the best is the Kano Computer Kit, which delivers step by step instructions to create your very own computer.

Best Overall: Kano Computer Kit

Kano is well known when it comes to STEM kits that deliver a superior experience. While there are several different Kano kits, the one that should appeal to both adults and children interested in electronic kits is the Kano Computer Kit. It walks you through building your very own computer that runs on Raspberry Pi. Once it's built, it delivers hundreds of challenges that will teach you or your child the basics of coding.

This kit is jam-packed with everything you need to be successful. That includes a step-by-step book, Raspberry Pi 3, programmable LED lights, DIY case, power button, wireless keyboard with a trackpad, memory, HDMI and power cables, stickers, and Kano unique operating system. Once you've built your computer, you have access to over 100 different challenges and apps. These include the ability to make art, games, music, and interact with the broader Kano community online.

Not every electronic kit is equal, and Kano dominates the field. It delivers kits that are intuitive and easy to understand for both children and adults making it the best electronic kit on the market. This kit helps you to build a fully working computer and gives you plenty to do with it once you've completed the construction.

Pros:

  • Step by step instructions to build your own computer
  • Hundreds of challenges teach you to code
  • Made for ages 6 and up

Cons:

  • Parents will need to help build the computer
  • Kids may need help to complete challenges

Best Overall

Kano Computer Kit

Build a computer

This kit teaches you to code after you build your own Raspberry Pi computer.

Best Value: Snap Circuits Jr Electronics Kit

At one point if you wanted to get started with circuits, it meant dealing with a soldering iron. This isn't an ideal choice for folks living in apartments, or for children who wouldn't be able to be as hands-on. The Snap Circuits Jr Electronics Kit offers up a better way to learn about circuits since there are no burning parts involved. The ability to snap circuits together makes this kit uniquely suited for the STEM enthused youngster in your life.

The Snap Circuits Jr Electronics Kit is just one of several different kits available from Snap Circuits. This kit contains a variety of different electronic parts that can be used to create over 100 various projects. However, once your child has finished with everything it offers, you can snag larger kits to continue their engineering endeavors. The instruction manual that comes with this kit includes instructions for projects like a photosensor, a flashing light, an adjustable-volume siren, and plenty more.

Pros:

  • Parts all snap together easily
  • Create over 100 different projects
  • Made for kids 8 and up

Cons:

  • Parts are easy to lose
  • Supervision is recommended

Best Value

Snap Circuits Jr Electronics Kit

Snap together circuitry projects

Use more than 30 different electronic parts to create 100 different projects with no soldering required.

Best 3D Builds: Smartlab Smart Circuits

Finding STEM toys is much easier than it was even just a few short years ago. Finding the toys that will get your kids interested and not require your supervision while they play and learn is a more difficult task. Smart labs Smart Circuits kit delivers fun and educational in an age-appropriate package that may be precisely what you are looking for. This kit includes 48 different pieces capable of building 50 various projects and is built specifically with kids in mind.

Amongst the 48 pieces in this kit, you'll find six baseboards, battery module, variable resistor module, microprocessor module, tricolor LED module, speaker module, photodiode module, tilt switch module, 6-LED array module, two push-button modules, and 31 Jumper wires. Initially, your child will learn how all of this works by completing the 50 projects laid out in the accompanying booklet. Once they've done that they'll have the know-how to create their own projects.

Pros:

  • Built for kids 8 and up
  • 48 Different pieces to experiment with
  • Instructions for 50 different projects

Cons:

  • Excellent motor control required to connect wires

Best 3D Build

Smartlab Smart Circuits

Build your own games and gadgets

Learn about electronic engineering with 50 different projects in one package.

Best Circuit Starter Kit: ELEGOO UNO Super Starter Kit

Learning about Circuits and programming isn't always an easy task. In many cases, kids who don't seem super interested in technology or STEM topics can be appealed to with hands-on projects. The ELEGOO Uno Super Start Kit comes with 22 different lessons that teach the basics of circuitry and programming in a fashion that's easy to approach.

The quality of all the components in the kit is fantastic and makes it easy to get started with Arduino. It makes the kit approachable for both kids and adults. That's a good thing too because it isn't made for younger children. If you have a child under ten who wants to learn about circuitry, it's an activity that will require supervision from an adult.

Pros:

  • 22 different lessons to work through
  • Teaches the basics of circuitry and programming
  • Compatible with Arduino software, sensors, and codes

Cons:

  • Lots of small and fragile pieces
  • Kids under ten will need parental supervision

Best Circuit Starter Kit

ELEGOO UNO Super Starter Kit

Get started with circuitry

Use 22 lessons to learn about circuitry and programming.

Best Mobile Project: Circuit Cubes Whacky Wheels Kit

Not all STEM toys look or work in the same way, and Circuit Cubes makes that very clear. This kit is built to work with Legos and other building blocks to allow kids and adults to bring their creations to life with a minimum of fuss along the way. This kit includes options to make your creations move and light up.

Circuit cubes are just what they sound like; cubes made up of circuits that allow kids to add STEM aspects to their play. They work with every major brand of building blocks. It means that you don't need to pay for tons of expensive equipment to get your children excited about STEM. They're able to bring their lego creations to life, and bring them to motion. Your kids will also be able to see the circuit cubes in action since they are all semi-transparent.

Pros:

  • Semi-transparent design lets kids see how circuits work
  • Material to make ten different light-up toys

Cons:

  • Circuit cubes are small and easy to lose

Best Mobile Project

Circuit Cubes Whacky Wheels Kit

Circuits you can see

Connect circuit cubes to building blocks and watch them come to life.

Best for Coding: Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit

This is the droid you're looking for. The Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit differs from many of the other electronic kits because it connects building something, and then watching it work. Kids first build their droid, and then they use a smartphone app to code it. Using Star Wars as a vehicle to get them interested is also an excellent way to get kids interested in STEM and help them to learn as they play.

This droid uses block-based coding to tell the droid how to behave. With more than twenty missions for kids to take advantage of, they'll teach their droids plenty of different skills and even program a personality into it. They can also drive their droid around, wave to use to the force to get it rolling or watch as it navigates and manages not to run into anything in the process. Little Bits also delivers options for reconfiguring their droids over time, so once you've built it once it isn't finished forever.

Pros:

  • Kids get to build and code their droid
  • Droids can be reconfigured over time

Cons:

  • Requires a smartphone to play and code

Best for Coding

Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit

Encourage your little inventor

Learn to code as you build and teach your Droid new skills through fun missions.

Bottom line

Electronic kits deliver a fun way to learn about circuits, programming, and coding. Each one that made our list offers something different, from being super user-friendly, to snapping together, or being built with children in mind. Out of all the options available, the Kano Computer Kit is superior to the rest.

This kit uses step-by-step instructions to have you build your own working computer. Once you finish that hundreds of challenges and apps let you create music, play games, and much more.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Jen Karner is a STEM enthusiast who spent hours looking through consumer reviews to find the best electronic kits available today. You can follow her on Twitter

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