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'[EE] How to start teaching electronics to a 5 year'
2007\06\11@114241 by Alexandre Guimar„es

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Hi,

   My 5 years old son is starting to be VERY interested in what I do and is
asking me more and more to teach him "how to make boards" :-) I am lost here
and I would like to check if anyone on the list has started to teach the
kid's so early and how I should do this...

   I thought about a breadboard, some LED's, some resistors, a buzzer, some
switches, potentiometers and if I can grab one a analog miliamp meter..

   Is it too soon ? Is there any way to make it fun for him ? I would hate
to let him loose interest and he is very interested now... Almost everyday
he looks at my garbage can looking for "boards", wires and anything that I
throw away..

Best regards,
Alexandre Guimaraes

2007\06\11@121547 by Harold Hallikainen

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I don't really remember much of when I was 5, but I do remember building
stuff in elementary school. One thing that was fun was getting a couple
telephones (there were lots of military surplus stores in the area) and a
battery. I ran wires to my friends' houses and we could talk on our own
telephone system. My father and I also built a crystal radio. I remember
using a Quaker Oats box to wind the coil around. Later, I built a Knight
Kit AM Broadcaster, a small AM transmitter with two 50C5s and a 12AX7
tube. That stuff was by the time I was in fourth grade. Also made a spark
gap transmitter out of a buzzer out of some neighbor's broken toy. Connect
one side of the interrupter to ground and the other to a big wire antenna.
I could send Morse code for several blocks and hear it on AM radios.

Good luck with the project!

Harold


{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\06\11@121559 by Marcel Duchamp

picon face
Alexandre Guimarães wrote:
> Hi,
>
>     My 5 years old son is starting to be VERY interested in what I do and is
> asking me more and more to teach him "how to make boards" :-) I am lost here
> and I would like to check if anyone on the list has started to teach the
> kid's so early and how I should do this...
>
>     I thought about a breadboard, some LED's, some resistors, a buzzer, some
> switches, potentiometers and if I can grab one a analog miliamp meter..
>
>     Is it too soon ? Is there any way to make it fun for him ? I would hate
> to let him loose interest and he is very interested now... Almost everyday
> he looks at my garbage can looking for "boards", wires and anything that I
> throw away..
>
> Best regards,
> Alexandre Guimaraes
>

Never too young!

Your idea of LED's, buzzers, etc., is a good one.  Immediate feedback:
turn this, that happens; beep beep, flash, flash.

My dad fed my interest by bringing home "broken" radios, phonographs, TV
sets, etc. I examined them and then disassembled them, storing
interesting parts and tossing the rest.

With supervision, your son could have fun desoldering parts from old
boards.  Maybe a kit to build is a good idea, too.  Give him a sense of
accomplishment.

Have fun!

2007\06\11@121832 by Timothy J. Weber

face picon face
Alexandre Guimarães wrote:
> Hi,
>
>     My 5 years old son is starting to be VERY interested in what I do and is
> asking me more and more to teach him "how to make boards" :-) I am lost here
> and I would like to check if anyone on the list has started to teach the
> kid's so early and how I should do this...
>
>     I thought about a breadboard, some LED's, some resistors, a buzzer, some
> switches, potentiometers and if I can grab one a analog miliamp meter..
>
>     Is it too soon ?

No!  That's when I started.

> Is there any way to make it fun for him ? I would hate
> to let him loose interest and he is very interested now...

You might start with simple breadboarding projects, just building them
following instructions.

Or, if he has a hard time getting things to line up in the right holes
(some kids that age do, some don't), I saw something in MAKE magazine
recently that I want to try, maybe with some variations.  Basically,
attach components to blocks of wood with their leads wound around screw
eyes.  Then use alligator clip leads to connect them up.  May be simpler
for small hands.

And then, of course, there are the commercial kits.  My nephew loves
Snap Circuits.

But maybe try the breadboard first and see what he thinks.  Anything
interactive is good - my daughter even loves looking through all the new
parts I buy, it's become a ritual.
--
Timothy J. Weber
http://timothyweber.org

2007\06\11@123410 by Paul Hutchinson

picon face
I gave one of my nieces a "Electronics 101 Snap-Kit" from RadioShack when
she was seven.
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2102914

I found it to have good educational value and the carefully designed system
makes it very safe for young children.

Paul

> {Original Message removed}

2007\06\11@124438 by Brian Kraut

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I had my son doing production soldering at about 9.  He thought it was fun
and I paid him eight bucks an hour and we were both getting a good deal.  Of
course he would get bored and want to go play video games after about an
hour and a half.  Now I use a solder pot and the boards that used to take an
entire weekend are stuffed in three or four hours and soldered in a half
hour.

He is 11 now and I got him one of the Radio Shack project labs for Christmas
last year.  That is how I started.  Now they use a breadboard.  I think it
was a lot easier for a kid when they used the spring terminals.

Brian Kraut
Engineering Alternatives, Inc.
http://www.engalt.com

{Original Message removed}

2007\06\11@124524 by Mike Harrison

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face

>> Hi,
>>
>>     My 5 years old son is starting to be VERY interested in what I do and
>> is
>> asking me more and more to teach him "how to make boards" :-) I am lost
>> here
>> and I would like to check if anyone on the list has started to teach the
>> kid's so early and how I should do this...

>From personal experience (being the kid...), find plenty of (non-mains) stuff for him to take apart
& play with. Make it clear that dismantling is strictly limited to 'authorized' objects (at least
until he is good enough at it to put them back together again without too many bits left over...).

Things that have a mechanical content are good as it is more obvious how things happen - e.g.
cassette recorder, inkjet printer etc.

As for soldering, don't worry too much - after a couple of minor burns he'll learn.... Things like
carpets are at more risk...!

Simple kits are a good start - I remember getting very frustrated by building things out of books
that didn't work, but the satisfaction when something does work is great. I didn't have someone to
help me get stuff working - guiding him through fixing things ( either that he's made, or existing
products) will teach very useful problem-solving skills.
The nice thing about kits as opposed to breadboards is that the items last, and can be used
later/modified/adapted/experimented with, whearas a breadboarded thing just disappears.






2007\06\11@130400 by Carey Fisher

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Harold Hallikainen wrote:
> ...
> tube. That stuff was by the time I was in fourth grade. Also made a spark
> gap transmitter out of a buzzer out of some neighbor's broken toy. Connect
> one side of the interrupter to ground and the other to a big wire antenna.
> I could send Morse code for several blocks and hear it on AM radios.
>
> Good luck with the project!
>
> Harold
>  
>  
Harold - I thought I was the only one who did the buzzer thing!
I used a key & buzzer from a Morse Code learning/practice set,
ran a wire from one side of the buzzer up a tree and my friend could
hear me on his dad's CB radio a few houses away.
The battery I was using ran down so I hooked the buzzer to
household AC, it exploded and caught fire and I've been in electronics
ever since.
Carey

2007\06\11@130656 by Steve Smith

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face
Crystal set its where I started at about the same age... a coil a capacitor
a diode and an earpiece. (I still have a cats whisker in my junk box
(primitive diode)
Never too young

My first encounter was before this. I had a small horn for a pushbike(with
stabilisers) and the battery was flat..... There was wires in the lego for
making the lights work should make the horn work if I use the power from the
wall that makes the heater work......

It went Poooof... or that was my description of the outburst that blew the
32A fuse in the consumer unit and the wires to smithereens bypassing the
fuse inn the plug by wrapping the wires around the pins is not recommended
for preschool children with no knowledge of free electrons...

Got my wires confiscated....

Regards
Steve



{Original Message removed}

2007\06\11@131439 by Michael Rigby-Jones

picon face


{Quote hidden}

I think I must have been a bit of a thug, my brother and I used relays wired up as buzzers for electric shock machines!  He went one better and used a huge contactor which literaly jumped around the floor :D

Regards

Mike

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2007\06\11@133812 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
>     Is it too soon ?

I made my son (5y) a few wooden bricks with 2 or three nails, with a
LED+resistor, diode, battery+safety resistor, switch, etc. He can
connect the brichts with alligator clip wires.

But IMHO at that age mechanics might be a more lasting interest: lego,
meccano, fisher technic, etc.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu




2007\06\11@134244 by Dr Skip

picon face
Let him collect and imagine as well as do. I once taught science to
kindergarten students in a school with a very good academic reputation.
The usual problem isn't that they can't understand (although there are
some) but that the average teacher doesn't understand... After weeks of
going over electricity and magnetic fields in fundamental ways, I would
bring in wire and all sorts of  'parts', invite the principal to class,
and without any previous discussion on it, I would give them a 'final
exam' in the form of designing and building a working generator and
powering something. I would purposely avoid generation in previous
discussions and you could see them think it through as a group, design
it, then wind it and build it. I only offered my hands to do anything
they thought I could do faster or more delicately, silently following
their instructions.

They could explain the working of most of the devices in the classroom,
they would create the working generator on their own, and the principal
and their homeroom teacher never where able to do what they could... I
had the chance to talk to a few of them a few years later and they still
remembered the theory and the classes, which were still ahead of what
they were getting in their current science classes. They are capable of
much more than they are typically given.

-Skip


Alexandre Guimarães wrote:
>     Is it too soon ? Is there any way to make it fun for him ? I would hate
> to let him loose interest and he is very interested now... Almost everyday
> he looks at my garbage can looking for "boards", wires and anything that I
> throw away..
>
> Best regards,
> Alexandre Guimaraes
>
>  

2007\06\11@135437 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Mike Harrison wrote:

> Make it clear that dismantling is strictly limited to 'authorized'
> objects (at least until he is good enough at it to put them back
> together again without too many bits left over...).

Ahhh... a good school is dismantling the 'unauthorized' objects, and having
to have them back together without a trace by the time the parents get home
:)

Gerhard

2007\06\11@141400 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
Snap Circuits. But be ware that the components can be fried by random
connection.

I've been thinking about trying to teach my kids (10 and 12) to route PCBs
as a game. I find it so much fun that I think it could be presented as a
video game for them.

---
James.



> {Original Message removed}

2007\06\11@143554 by Vasile Surducan

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I will never forget. At 7 I've got and old russian book (a very good one)
with 100 schematics of radioreceivers using only one and two transistors.
I had one russian transistor called PI13. I've reproduced all
schematics using that transistor on a manufactured breadboard (one
which first need to be drilled, then
mount the copper staple in the hole, then riveting, etc)
None of them works for the simplest reason the transistor was short
circuited between colector and base.

It was extremely usefull for next yers when I knew exactly how to
manufacture a coil or how to read colour code for transistors and
resistors.
Just soldering and sorting components like playing it's a good choice.
Lighting a LED from an 1.5V battery. All will be usefull later.


On 6/11/07, Alexandre Guimarães <listasspamKILLspamlogikos.com.br> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>

2007\06\11@143857 by piclist

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face
I don't know whether this works for you or not, but I've seen "electronic lab
kits" in toy stores where you snap components together to make lights turn on
and off and spin motors, etc.  This may be a good start.

But if your kid is anything like me, he'll want to get to use the
soldering iron
instead of snaping pieces together, just because it is not the same to
his eyes
:)

But getting back to the age thing, if he is showing that degree of interest,
then, no, I do not think it is too early, but you will have to keep an eye on
him to make sure he does not get hurt with a soldering iron or shorting things
here and there and have a polarized tantalum cap installed backwards
explode on
him (once he sees it happena few times, he may get the taste for making them
explode on purpose, I did :).


-Mario


Quoting Alexandre Guimarães <.....listasKILLspamspam.....logikos.com.br>:

{Quote hidden}

>

2007\06\11@161609 by Harold Hallikainen

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flavicon
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> I had my son doing production soldering at about 9.  He thought it was fun
> and I paid him eight bucks an hour and we were both getting a good deal.
> Of
> course he would get bored and want to go play video games after about an
> hour and a half.  Now I use a solder pot and the boards that used to take
> an
> entire weekend are stuffed in three or four hours and soldered in a half
> hour.
>
> He is 11 now and I got him one of the Radio Shack project labs for
> Christmas
> last year.  That is how I started.  Now they use a breadboard.  I think it
> was a lot easier for a kid when they used the spring terminals.
>
> Brian Kraut
> Engineering Alternatives, Inc.
> http://www.engalt.com


Wow! $8/hour! I got 25 cents an hour. Then the union at my father's
company complained and the California Department of Labor sent him a
letter suggesting I was not old enough to work there. I have the letter
framed...

Harold


--
FCC Rules Updated Daily at http://www.hallikainen.com - Advertising
opportunities available!

2007\06\11@173546 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
On Jun 11, 2007, at 10:03 AM, Steve Smith wrote:

> Crystal set its where I started at about the same age...

Beg to differ; failure to EVER get any of the radio-like
projects working forever turned me off of radio.  I suppose
the (substantial) antenna requirements just weren't practical
in the environment I was living in...

For a local elementary school (6&7 y olds) "science fair" (not
kid projects; guided demos and experimentation), I mounted a
bunch of battery holders, lamps, motors, buzzers, switches, and
so on to small wooden blocks with nails for connecting and let
the kids go wild with wires.  (sigh.  Even at that age there was
a subset that kept adding batteries till the lamps burnt out!)
It worked pretty well.

Second the recommendations for taking things apart, and for
"snap-circuits" or the radio-shack-style experiment set.

BillW

2007\06\11@174730 by Marcel Duchamp

picon face
Of course, don't forget the old standby: electromagnet.  After playing
with permanent magnets, show them how to wind some wire around some iron
and connect to a battery.

2007\06\11@233549 by PicDude

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I was first fascinated by electronics because my dad's shop had an electronics
technician to repair customers' radios.  ...yep back in those days when
electronics was actually repaired, and not disposed of and replaced.  I was
curious and enjoyed playing with bulbs and motors etc.

Then I picked up a book on building a transistor radio (it was aimed at kids
with full color drawings etc).  It showed how to build a radio circuit using
a block of wood as the base with screws and washers holding down the
component leads.  Got frustrated as hell when I couldn't find a lot of those
parts in Trinidad.

Later (like when I was 9 IIRC), I got one of those Radio Shack 50-in-1 type
kits and I also remember picking up an issue of Radio Electronics.  Didn't
understand most of it, but I read and re-read it until I started figuring
things out.

I think the key here is that *I* was interested and it seems that your son has
that major piece already.  The breadboard with switches, bulbs, etc is great
because he'll see immediate results.  Start with lighting up a simple bulb
and expand from there.  But it would probably keep him better interested if
there was a purpose to these circuits. Something he can play with or create a
doorbell etc.  At some point, you should start explaining the circuit theory.  
And for that reason, I think you should use bulbs rather than LED's.

Cheers,
-Neil.



On Monday 11 June 2007 10:42, Alexandre Guimarães wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\06\12@041707 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Crystal set its where I started at about the same age... a coil
>a capacitor a diode and an earpiece. (I still have a cats whisker
>in my junk box (primitive diode)
>Never too young

I would suggest a crystal set too. Wind a coil on a large tube and find an
old tuning capacitor, a germanium diode and a pair of headphones. Kid will
have many hours of fun using something they have built. That was essentially
how I got into 'electronics' in mid primary school years, after getting
books on 'radio' out of the library which had the instructions on building
the crystal set.

Along side this would be doing the kit type things others have suggested,
and if they do the right things then an op-amp can become a headphone
amplifier for the crystal set.

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