I don’t think I have met a kid (old or young) that doesn’t love a robot. The thing is, robots and electronics projects can be intimidating- especially if your child has more expertise in this area than you do. Luckily, Snap Circuits come with a very comprehensive manual and easily decodable diagrams to build the circuits.
We recently received a Snap Circuits Code Journey to try out as part of a promotion. This product is much like other Snap Circuits products since the pieces of the circuit easily snap together on a plastic grid.
One difference between Code Journey and other Snap Circuits is that the plastic grid, which usually stands alone as a place to mount the circuits, is attached to a rover. Another key difference is that Code Journey uses a bluetooth coding module, which connects to the free app on a phone or tablet (Android or Apple) and allows the user to control the rover from the app. Additionally, this product clearly translates code from the computer to the physical world through movement, lights, and sound.
My kids snapped project one together in less than forty minutes, with a bit of parent help. The trickiest part of the diagram is that there are two numbers listed by some of the parts. The white number indicates how long the chosen part needs to be to fit the circuit. The black number indicates the order that the parts should be placed onto the board. In other words, if the part has a black 1 next to it, it should be mounted directly onto the board. Parts that have a black 2 next to them are part of the second layer of the circuit. This may sound complex, but the snapping feature demands a snap on the bottom and the top for the parts to click together, so it becomes self-evident when handling the parts.
There are three ways to drive the rover: real-time control, BOT-code (TM), and BLOCKLY coding. The kids wanted to try driving the car first, using the drive modes to zip around our living room. Next, we tried the BOT-code (TM). This interface allowed my son to drag and drop directions from the menu, and then delete, re-order, and add to them as he wished. He is only four, and figured out that changing the numbers changed the output, or how the rover behaved. He kept trying numbers, big and small, to see what would happen.
We also took the time to label D1, D2, D3, D4 which control and correspond to the circuits on the board and move the rover. This allowed my son to decide which one he wanted to drag and drop based on where the rover was in the room.