Electric or science toy kits that are decent

I am looking for something to give to my soon to be 6 year old nephew for birthday (we'll pool money with my parents, so I would say the
budget is $100). I also keep in my my 4 year old for the future.
What we are thinking about is buying some sort of "science kit".
What I know from experience is that manufacturers learned that they can get away with making complete CRAP that they pass for a "science kit". These things never work, they simply are hoping that it would be collecting dust in some closet, which usually is the case. I had a bad experience with one such kit, which I returned.
So... Does anyone know of decent kits within that price range of $100.
Either electrical or chemical, I suppose this is my choice.
i
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(Amazon.com product link shortened)
We love our Electronic Snap Circuits kit. It comes with a booklet containing a lot of different experiments, it's sturdy, everything organizes well in it's box, and everything literally snaps together. My kids, 7 and 10, love it.
Bizby
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Thanks, I will definitely buy it for him, and maybe even one for my son.
i
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I'm not sure I can help much for something like this, but I know if I toss together some wire, light switches, batteries, electrical tape, lights, etc., and sit down with my son, he has a blast making little electrical circuits and such, and it's cheap. You can make all types of little motors and lights with circuits, and it's fun, very inexpensive and the fun does last for a long time as there's so many different things you can do with a few simple objects and materials. For chemicals, I don't trust my 5 OR 6 year old with much more than something like making home-made volcanos ;) My boys are destructive, messy and basically your typical 5/6 year old boys. I have no suggestions there. :(
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xkatx wrote:

And if you want to get all that electrical stuff in a little box with a booklet, go with http://www.shop.com/op/aprod-p37124066?sourceid#5 -- you'll have to buy 6 of them to get up past $100, though.
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wrote:

Thanks, as far as I am concerned, you are right and I made some toys with wires, etc. Here, though, I am loking for a present for my nephew.
I cannot really ship them a bunch of solid state relays, resistors, ICs, scrounged wires, terminals and a crimper, and call it a birthday present. :)
i
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wrote:

If they don't see potential Tesla coils, electromagnets, radios, etc then perhaps it's not really their calling.
I think what gave me the buzz as a kid was to imagine things I'd like to make, then go scrounging for the bits, then make something that might work - or not. Even if it did not, I'd have learnt what doesn't work and why.
Why not spend time talking with them about a crazy thing to make, then have a scavenge round junk yards, and pull things to bits for parts. Taking things apart is like a dissection lesson but less yukky.
For inspiration, try watching the shows by Tim Hunkin. He made a series of short programs with titles like "The Secret Life of Washing Machines" showing how common gadgets worked. One time he made a huge digital clock by using an ordinary clock to switch on strip lights instead of LED segments.
How about making an animated water feature using electrically automated valves from old washing machines?
Or an elaborate automated sculpture using old electric motors?
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On Mon, 03 Apr 2006 23:47:18 GMT, Kryten

I think that to imagine this stuff, one needs to get some basic understanding of how electricity or other things, work.

He lives far from me.

I would like to make a toy water powered electric generator...
i
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i, AFTER you get a decent pre-packaged kit (which is a good idea).. there comes the usual downfall of BATTERIES.
For some of my Grandchildren, and for several elementary school projects, I have used the Zero-Cost approach of the "Old PC Power Supply". The kid can plug this in and never run out of batteries, for stationary projects anyway. You get this:
5 volt DC power at several amps 12 volt DC power at several amps -12 volt DC power (Only needed for some electronics experiments) Runs from 120V 60 Hz OR 220V 50HZ (usually has a small switch to change 120-240)
Short-Circuit protection! WHEN you short out an output, the supply turns off. Turn it off and back on again. So this is quite "Safe" unless you put just-the-right small wire across the supply and have it heat up....
Minor Challenges:
- You need to have some minimum LOAD on the +5 supply for the power supply to work with no PC attached. A small 6 volt or 12 volt automobile tail light bulb is good, and tells you "It's ON!". I have also used a cool "Side Marker Light" that is has a small case and a yellow lens, that was cheap at Wal-Mart. NOTE: 5V on the 12V bulb is not too bright, but works). OR you can mount a 10 Ohm 10 Watt resistor (Radio Shack) inside the power supply case. Of course, the FAN runs, so the kid knows it's on when he/she goes to bed...
- You need to have some easy way for the kid(s) to attach things to the "right" output connections. The best thing is to add some large TERMINALS that you can arrange on a small board or on the chassis of the supply, and LABEL THEM. Tape all those "extra" wires into a big lump with electrical tape.
My favorite "Power Panel" is a piece of 1/8" wallboard with the shiny white surface, used in cheap bathroom makeovers. Comes in big sheets, but look for the cheap one with the corner broken! Easy to drill holes for terminals, pilot lihhts etc. AND they are great for marking: Permanent marker for power connection labels. And, It's a White Board! Use those dry-erase markers for experiment labels. That same wallboard makes great "experiment" or "Switch" panels. Use the dry erase markers to draw the circuits, then hook them up with the alligator-clip leads. You get the idea.
Here are a couple of pointers to examples: http://web2.murraystate.edu/andy.batts/ps/powersupply.htm http://reckerclub.tripod.com/id105.html ..and more if you Google "use old pc power supply"
Suggestion: Get a package of those "Alligator clip leads" at Radio Shack for the kids to connect up some small 12 volt bulbs, switches etc.
Anyway, this way the "Batteries" never run out...
Regards, Terry King ...On The Mediterranean in Carthage
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Sounds like a good idea. For myself, I already have a few power supplies, but I will pass this tip on to my sister.

I find that regular terminal blocks work well.
i
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xkatx wrote:

>

Last weekend, DD and her friend "experimented" with a 2-liter bottle of soda (we found that root beer worked best) and rolls of mentos. Better than a volcano.
Jeanne
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On Mon, 03 Apr 2006 16:45:31 -0400, in sci.electronics.design Jeanne

Ultimate WMD....... Must be a way to make it more organised, magnetic release into the fluid on a sealed bottle, maybe
martin
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I can recommend LEGO Mindstorms
http://mindstorms.lego.com /
Regards
Klaus
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I have used these extensively. They are great kits but are too heavy duty for a 6 year old. $199 price tag.
Klaus Kragelund wrote:

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On Mon, 03 Apr 2006 19:18:57 GMT, Ignoramus29226

Not science, as such, but I LOVE Make Magazine:
http://www.makezine.com/
Projects ranging from how to build water rockets to hacking computer mice to make line-following robots. And it's relatively cheap, too. Many of the projects are suitable for small kids.
I'm a much bigger fan of the "Learn about the world with junk you have at hand" approach, than using pre-packaged kits. Make Magazine fits that bill.
The projects tend towards mechanics and electronics, so it may be more suitable for the budding applied, rather than theoretical, physicist. ;-)
- Rich
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On Mon, 03 Apr 2006 19:18:57 GMT, Ignoramus29226

For that age I feel that electrical mechanical gets more attention. My daughter liked the following (as did I when I was a kid).
http://thetoyhunt.com/geo5005.html
Not super durable but durable enough to work well if not abused. Lots of possibilities with many different gear boxes to allow lots of experimentation. The biggest problem is getting them to keep up with all the parts.
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How about an Erector set? Tom

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Check out Fischer-Technik - usually several listings on Ebay or you can but the newer sets retail. The older sets seem a little neater to me. Most of them are probably a bit over his head but you might start with some of the simpler ones and move as he gets older.
Mike
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buy a book and some "real" parts - there used to be a simple book on making crystal and one tube radios, called "the boy's first book of radio and electronics" - get a book like that, a spool of magnet wire and a box of diodes and he's all set to make crystal sets, and maybe a small motor (just add a nail or two for pole pieces.
much better than kits - if I could do it at 6, so can he
On Mon, 03 Apr 2006 19:18:57 GMT, Ignoramus29226

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    Can you still get the cylindrical cardboard oatmeal boxes for coil forms?
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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