Science Wiz Electricity Review
The Science Wiz Electricity kit is a fun way to introduce young kids to the basics of electricity, but it isn't perfect.
Science Wiz Electricity (starting at $14, Amazon) is one of a series of elementary-level kits that introduce grade-schoolers to the basic concepts of the physical sciences. This kit comes with an illustrated book that demonstrates 18 electricity-related experiments and all of the materials required to conduct them, save one D-cell battery. Written by UC Berkeley biophysics Ph.D. Penny Norman, this title has won numerous awards and accolades. But will these cheap science experiments keep the child in your life entertained long enough to impart their knowledge? The short answer from our 8-year-old tester: yes. This Science Wiz kit kept her busy and fully absorbed, learning about circuits, lighting up bulbs, and operating simple motors. She couldn't wait to demonstrate her newfound skills to her siblings and quickly began to experiment on her own with ever more complex circuits.
While our tester had great fun spinning pinwheels and her own custom-colored designs using the enclosed motor, the kit wasn't perfect. The instructions warn that the buzzer and small LED light work only if the alligator clips are attached to the battery a certain way and advises switching the connections if you don't see results. Unfortunately, our LED light never functioned, and the buzzer worked only occasionally, and only after our tester poked the motor's prong into a small hole on top of the buzzer casing. This left our young reviewer able to complete only about half of the activities in the book. The flaky buzzer meant she had to skip one of the most intriguing experiments, which involves using the buzzer to communicate in Morse code. By the looks of one review on Amazon, we weren't the only ones who found that these parts wouldn't work. Another user who posted a review on Amazon discovered that the LED light needed the power of multiple D batteries to produce a visible light.
The Science Wiz Electricity kit is a fun way to introduce young kids to the basics of electricity. While the set claims to be for children 5 to 10 years old, we suspect it's a bit too simple for budding scientists at the top of that age range. Then again, an educator who posted a review on Amazon reports that the 7- to 10-year-olds in her after-school program were enthralled with this Science Wiz kit.