Electro Wiz

Scott Nusz, Kevin Blithe, Tana Vanprapa, Michael Micucci

Scientific content:

The "Electro Wiz" science kit is successful as an educational experience. Although we did not learn much from the kit ourselves, it is intended for children as young as five, so that is not a problem. However, the kit states that it is good for children as young as five-years, and we felt that older, perhaps middle school age children, would probably enjoy and learn the most from the kit. As far as its target audience, I think it'd be most successful with middle school students. We felt that the scientific content, electricity, was important, because it allows kids to learn about how the world around them functions - how lights work, etc - so that they understand that there is science behind it, and it is not 'magic.' We also felt that the kit would lead to further investigation, since the booklet points out several real-world things that use motors and electricity, including toys, which would probably lead to experimentation with these electrical toys.


The nuts and bolts of this kit were great. The kit was very well documented, especially the thirty-seven-page booklet with large colorful pictures, troubleshooting guides, parental guides, and teacher guides. The only issue we had with the documentation is that it did not mention much about the battery, which was not included. This was confusing, because we couldn't find a battery, but we also could not find anywhere that the kit specified what kind of battery to purchase. After a great deal of searching, we found it hidden on the back panel of the kit.

The kit seems to be designed for small groups and also single-students. The hands-on activities could be done by either a single student or by a group of two or three, while the puzzles at the end of the book lend themselves to single student usage.

Another benefit of the kit is that is seems to be something that could be used with more than just the kit. Kids could experiment with the switch, etc with their electrical toys, try other tests on the conductivity of materials that are not in the kit, etc. Moreover, the things in the kit could conceivably be used with other electronic kits.

Aesthetic Appeal / Entertainment:

The kit is very nice looking, and appealing in terms of packaging, color, and design. The pictures in the booklet are big and colorful, the box itself is colorful, and the implements of experimentation (alligator clips, buzzer, etc) are very bright and colorful as well. The packaging was great, with the book attached to the box, and everything fitting nicely into a clear box. The instructions were easy to follow, and the activities allowed the user to interact with many different pieces. Moreover, the system appealed to several senses - light bulb - light, buzzer - sound, motor- motion, etc. All of this combined to make the kit fun to use.

One the project was completed, there was not much of anything built that we would want to keep, but nearly all of the pieces of the kit were reusable, especially the motor, light bulb, wires, and buzzer.

Although the kit was well designed for small children (about 5 years old), the kit did not seem to be intended for older children. Alhtough the package says "5 and up" for the age, 9 and 10 year old children may find the information in the kit very academic and childish. Large format pictures and very elementary information make the kit suitable for only younger learners.

Future Development:

We felt that the kit was fairly complete, considering the minimum age requirement. While the kit could definitely be improved by adding other gadgets to the kit, it might make the kit too big and confusing for kids as young as five. However, the kit could definitely be improved in other ways. The directions were so easy to follow and clear - too much so. It was so easy to follow the instructions, that there was very little problem solving in the process. We thought that some or most of the information should be given, and then the student could figure the rest out, and answers could be provided in the back of the book for roadblocks. Also, we noticed that there was no mention of the positive or negative poles of the battery, even though some of the parts of the kit were clearly marked (+) and (-).

While we could envision some software that could come with the kit, we could not think of much relation to cricket hardware systems. Software could be provided with the kit, which would allow the student to build more elaborate circuits from virtual components, which would behave in the same was as their real-world counterpart might.

Overall, we thought that "Electro Wiz" was a very good kit, since it was very thorough, had good design, was educational, and was fun to play with. The unexpected thoroughness of the booklet, which contained troubleshooting, parental and teacher guidance, was very nice. The brightly colored components and full-size colorful pictures contributed to the good design, while the content of electricity and circuitry was useful and educational.