Inventionland helps to inspire lots of creative young minds who tour the 61,000 square foot wonderland every year. Unfortunately, there’s only one Inventionland, and it’s located in Pittsburgh, PA, which means that not every aspiring inventor will be able to visit. For those youths who can’t make it to Inventionland, there are a growing number of products that will help to encourage and enable young inventors.
Understanding electronics and circuits may seem like a daunting task, even for most adults; but, for the young inventor, there’s one company that promises to make it a snap. Snap Circuits are a toys for children ages eight and up that demystify circuit design by breaking down the individual components into plastic pieces that actually snap together to form working circuits. Transformers, relays, transistors, resistors, diodes, 7-segment LED displays, integrated circuits – all contained on a plastic housing that allow the young inventor to see the component itself, the symbol for it used in circuit diagrams, as well as polarity and any other pertinent information. Kits come with existing diagrams, and the company even has a place on their website for circuits designed by users. They’re even available in large kits for classroom use, and make learning about electronics fun.
For the older or more advanced young inventor, there are a few new products hitting the marketplace. Nearly every child grows up playing with, or at least being aware of, LEGO. They’ve become the modern building block, which is just what the Seamless Toy Company hopes to do for electronics with ATOMS Express; a high-tech construction system for kids and adults to “make things that do amazing things.” They’re meant to be built into Lego creations, screwed onto projects, sewn into costumes; the possibilities are endless. Like LEGO building blocks, ATOMS are literal blocks that are meant to be connected together and are broken into three categories. From their website:
LED’s, motors, motion sensors, light sensors, vibration motors, and even Bluetooth will be available when the product hits the shelves in July. With the Bluetooth ATOM, young inventors can control their creations from their iPhones.
Three dimensional printing has been around since the early 1980’s, helping companies like Nike, Ford, and even Inventionland treamline and perfect the product development process. Although recent developments in 3D printing have made it more accessible than ever, it still requires a lot of specialized knowledge in engineering, 3D modeling, and materials. Additionally, it is still somewhat cost prohibitive. The 3Doodler gives young inventors a somewhat basic access to this technology. It is “the world’s first and only 3D Printing Pen.” Using ABS plastic, much like an ink cartridge in a pen, the 3Doodler can be used to draw in three dimensional space. It is designed to allow creators to make art, models, toys, and crafts, as well as repair or decorate existing products.
Snap Circuits; Gigaom; ATOMS Express; Kickstarter.