Giving children a kit start with electronics
The Electricity Starter Kit
Children using the Starter Kit units
The fully packaged Electricity Starter Kit
Creating a buzz for young children around electronics is easier said than done. Components can be fragile even in adult hands, while health and safety regulations have made teachers even more conscious of the need to protect their pupils.
When Steve Jones founded BrightSparks4Kids in 2010, his aim was to produce a safe, fun and stimulating resource which would bring electronics alive for primary school children. Something that could be used by teachers and children to create simple electronic circuits, as well as being strong and durable enough to last year after year. From the beginning BrightSparks wanted a product developed with teachers, for teachers.
"I knew the kit had to move past classroom hazards associated with teaching Electricity", says Steve. "For example, the easy to remove and break glass bulbs were now replaced by shatterproof bulb covers. Tricky crocodile clips were replaced by a much easier 'plug & socket’ style connection. In turn each component was carefully looked at and improved on where possible." In developing the product, BrightSparks sourced many of their components from Rapid.
Bringing the spark back to electronics – without the sparks!
The result was the 'Electricity Starter Kit’, an exciting, simple to use and hard wearing resource which introduces children to a range of components and electrical principles. The original kit includes ABS enclosure units for batteries, bulbs, buzzers, switches, LEDs and motors, with each unit brightly coloured featuring the component name, circuit symbol, familiar picture and connection sockets. Each kit includes connection leads and an accompanying Simple Circuits Examples CD, and packaged in a Gratnells storage tray, so keeping classrooms tidy is quick and easy.
The 'Electricity Starter Kit’ was trialled in various schools, and received an excellent reaction from teachers. Steve found that the kit had applications from early years through all Primary key stages. Perhaps the most touching piece of feedback came from special needs teachers, who found the kits ideal for use with children who had fine and gross motor control difficulties. Primary and special schools are among the principal customers for BrightSparks4Kids products, but the kits are also supplied to science centres, teaching resources centres, power companies, STEM ambassadors, home tutors and the general public.
Over the last two years the range of kits has expanded to include Primary Control Kits, a Solar Energy Kit, Digital Measurement Kit, as well as classroom packs and accessories. Welsh language versions of the Starter Kit and many of the individual units have been very popular with local schools, with few dedicated Welsh educational resources now produced.
Rob McDevitt, headteacher at Woodside Primary School in Oswestry, said of the kits: "The simplicity of the circuit connections is brilliant and enables all children to successfully create circuits of increasing complexity. We have bought kits to meet the learning needs of children right across the age range and plan to purchase more. I would recommend the BrightSparks4Kids range of products to all primary schools."
As a company committed to improving the teaching of electronics in schools, Rapid Electronics is delighted to have been able to help in the development of BrightSparks4Kids. Interestingly it is not just our components that Steve finds useful.
"We needed a supplier that had good competitive pricing, free fast delivery, and a broad range of components and products. We chose Rapid for all these, but we also take advantage of Rapid’s easy to set up Schedule Orders facility, ensuring we always meet the demands of our customers and always have stock levels available. We are very happy we chose Rapid as our preferred supplier for manufacturing our products."
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