In a world where the news reports that children play too many video games and watch too much television, I tend to agree, though I do succumb to the virtues of the electronic world myself. What is missing today, is toys that the kids can interact with, so when a John Adams Hot Wires set landed on my desk, it felt like my Christmas had come early.
The John Adams Hot Wires set is a big bumper sized box, so straight away, if this was under your Christmas tree this year for your son (or daughter), they will be blown away by the size and exciting design on the box. Delving inside reveals an awesome electronics set, consisting of a base board and stacks of components. You get fuses, connectors, battery units, transistors, a bulb, microphone, buzzer, recording IC, the list goes on. Where the Hot Wires set is very clever is that all of the components simply snap together. No fiddling with tiny screws and no hot soldering, which would ultimately mean adult supervision and put the excitement out of the reach of many kids. It is aimed ate ages from 8 upwards, which I feel is about right, though some technically minded 6 & 7 year olds could also have a great time.
There are over 100 experiments, or things to build, including an FM radio, lie detector, burglar alarm and even a voice recorder. The instruction books really shows how things should be done. It is large in size and illustrated with full colour photographs of each and every experiment. Having such a wonderful and easy to follow book included makes this really stand out from the crowd.
For my test I chose to build the ‘Sound Activated Burglar Alarm’. All of the components are colour coded, so selecting the correct ones was really easy. The book shows where everything needs to be connected, and in under 10 minutes I had an alarm that went off every time the tiny microphone picked up a sound. Changing a few components allowed me to alter this to a ‘Light Activated Burglar Alarm’. With most reviews, by this point I am always aware that I need to get some writing done, but I just couldn’t put the Hot Wires set down. I went on to build a ‘3 Note Electronic Organ’, followed by a ‘Morse Code Generator’ and last but not least a ‘Lie Detector’. This was great and I used it to ask my kids some questions about their homework... the results were quite revealing.
I then handed this over to my two children (8 and 10 years old), and they loved it. Without any help they built some of the other projects, only calling for attention to show me the results. In all, I had whittled away with Hot Wires for almost 4 hours and the kids were in their 3rd hour without wanting to stop. I think it kept their attention because the results of each project once complete were intriguing. It added something back into their activities that had been missed for many years... that all important interaction that I mentioned at the start of this review!
The John Adams Hot Wires set costs just £39 and in my opinion offers great value for money. Don’t just buy the kids another computer game this Christmas and stick them in front the TV. Get them something they can get stuck into. This comes highly recommended, I cannot really put into words just how great Hot Wires really is. You will not be disappointed.