Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course
I haven't done many workshops with young people , but I have taught electronics to a lot of artists, and so have a fair bit of experience with getting electronic concepts across to non-geeky folks.
First off, if you are starting with teaching soldering, get them to practice on some scraps of perf-board first, well before starting the actual project. I get people to make "pretend resistors" out of 22 gauge wire, and then solder them into little squares of perfboard. This gives them practice stripping wire, and forming leads also.
Note that if you are working with youth, you will probably have to use lead-free solder- this is much harder to to work with than the lead-tin alloys, so people will be starting at a disadvantage. Good soldering irons make a HUGE difference- I've seen people go from nearly being in tears trying to use one of the banned $10 irons to exclaiming with joy when they got their hands on a real soldering station. If you can at all get your hands on a few inexpensive stations, it's well worth the money, even if kids have to share.
One project I've had a lot of fun getting people to make is a simple 555 astable,with a little speaker, with alligator clips in place of the timing resistor. (I call it the Gator Oscillator) The leads can then be clipped to all kinds of things, such as variable resistors, people, LDRs, sushi, pencil drawings done in 5B pencil, etc.
Total parts cost is only a few dollars, and most everyone can build it in under 2 hours.
This also fits nicely on a mini breadboard if you decide to go solderless.
Troubleshooting is key- it really makes a difference when everyone's project works, so it's good to have everyone build the project exactly the same way, and at the same pace, so you can catch errors at each step.