Marco Chiappetta, a Forbes.com contributor and supporter of appendTo, explained a recent family experience of being in a snow storm that highlighted the importance of exposing children to technology at a young age. He explained that his daughters, aged 4 and 5 at the time the article was written in January 2015, ask a lot of questions about how things work, and the snow storm that kept them out of school for a few days enabled him to use the Snap Circuits Junior toy his kids got for Christmas to explain a variety of electronic concepts to his inquisitive daughters.
The kit includes a base with circuitry components that snap onto the board. It had some wiring, a buzzer, some bulbs, resistors, and some ICs for tone generation, an electric motor with a propeller, and switches.
Chiappetta’s older daughter was already interested in electronics and other forms of technology. She had helped her dad build some systems and can navigate a variety of operating systems, including Android, iOS, and the Windows 8.1 touch components. Even though the Snap Circuit Junior kit seemed a bit low-level and more complex than the fancy technology she was used to, he decided to break the kit out to see what happened.
Dad and daughters created a basic circuit that operated the motor, and another circuit that lit up the bulbs, and another one that played music. The girls were engaged during the entire process. The last circuit they built was one that tested conductivity. The girls tested the various levels of electrical conductivity of household items, including My Little Ponies, which were deemed not electrically conductive. The entertainment and discovery process involving conductivity lasted about an hour.
Chiappetta understands the importance of avoiding the use of technology simply to babysit kids. He remembered that his parents let him learn on his own with tech toys and didn’t limit his creativity with technology simply because it wasn’t the “in” thing at the time for kids to be into. He states that his girls are more advanced technologically than he was right before he started ninth grade even at their young ages, and he intends to encourage any technological experimenting they want to engage in in the future.