Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by EasternStarGeek on Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:55 pm

OK, I'll bite-

I have been in contact with a local city-run community center, pitching to them the idea of creating a basic electronics course for young people, 12-18. These kids already have lots of athletic, art and craft programs to choose from, in addition to after-school tutoring. The demographic is poor, urban, and mostly minority.
The class would begin with some basic soldering, towards the construction of something fun- a noisemaker/blinky, perhaps. Once they get the idea that they can actually build something, then we slowly de-construct the project, explaining how it works in more detail, spinning off related projects as we go along, and increasing their knowledge and skills. That's the plan, anyway.
Naturally, the first step is to write a proposal, and to that end, I would appreciate hearing from others who have done similar classes/banned, etc. I was told that funds can be made available with which to purchase tools and materials, and that is important because it's not likely that these kids would already have what they need.
I already have some idea how to proceed, but since I have only taught adult professionals up to this point, I would appreciate hearing about the experiences of others- both instructors as well as participants.
Many thanks!
EasternStarGeek
 
Posts: 306
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:39 pm
Location: Upper Eastern Tennessee

Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by adafruit on Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:12 am

great post,

limor (ladyada) reposted it on her google+ too, there are some suggestions to check out...

https://plus.google.com/u/0/10877220027 ... LEqGieeqUH

thanks,
adafruit
User avatar
adafruit
 
Posts: 11511
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:21 pm
Location: nyc

Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by EasternStarGeek on Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:54 am

Thanks for the boost, lady!

I would really be interested to also hear from people who were exposed to courses like the one I am planning, and were bitten by the bug, so to speak. What made the lightbulbs (sorry- old skool) come on?
EasternStarGeek
 
Posts: 306
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:39 pm
Location: Upper Eastern Tennessee

Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by Rob Cruickshank on Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:13 am

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.
Rob Cruickshank
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:57 am

Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by jonbaer on Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:22 am

First thanks for putting this Education forum together (great idea). I had recently asked PT about something somewhat similar after something he posted (albeit for younger children - 3/4 years old), but I still haven't found the right toy / kit / idea to get it going yet for my own daughter. There is one thing I do want to share though which I had recently noticed but did not think about earlier. This weekend I had taken a walk to a park around me and at this park they had a very cool RC car racetrack (it has been an extremely long time since I was into it) but one thing that struck me was that when one of the cars was up and on a bench being torn apart to fix the kids young and old were very into it and asking alot of key mechanical and electrical questions. It got me thinking that while there wasn't an Arduino in there (yet) that education seems to be more interesting to younger kids (sometimes) when you break stuff down rather than build it up. It's really put a different perspective towards how I think about electronic teaching, working backwards to the fundamentals (rather than your standard curriculum of building up, ala kits). Just food for thought and interested in how your own pursuit goes.
jonbaer
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 8:45 pm

Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by adafruit on Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:46 am

jonbaer wrote:First thanks for putting this Education forum together (great idea). I had recently asked PT about something somewhat similar after something he posted (albeit for younger children - 3/4 years old), but I still haven't found the right toy / kit / idea to get it going yet for my own daughter.


thanks!

here's one we were just checking out:
http://learn.sparklelabs.com/blog/2011/ ... r-modules/
User avatar
adafruit
 
Posts: 11511
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:21 pm
Location: nyc

Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by adafruit on Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:47 am

EasternStarGeek wrote:Thanks for the boost, lady! I would really be interested to also hear from people who were exposed to courses like the one I am planning, and were bitten by the bug, so to speak. What made the lightbulbs (sorry- old skool) come on?


just a quick note, have you checked out the MAKE electronics book?

http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596153755.do
User avatar
adafruit
 
Posts: 11511
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:21 pm
Location: nyc

Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by Rob Cruickshank on Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:09 am

jonbaer wrote: It got me thinking that while there wasn't an Arduino in there (yet) that education seems to be more interesting to younger kids (sometimes) when you break stuff down rather than build it up. It's really put a different perspective towards how I think about electronic teaching, working backwards to the fundamentals (rather than your standard curriculum of building up, ala kits). Just food for thought and interested in how your own pursuit goes.

Good point- did you see the Taking Things Apart workshop that Machine Project in LA had?
http://machineproject.com/archive/class ... ingsapart/
I would have a child just to send it to such a workshop.
Rob Cruickshank
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:57 am

Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by adafruit on Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:30 am

oh, this just through our inbox - here's an example of an educator using our documentation for a course:

http://harry.whitlow.se/FYSS585/

lab3 for example.

thanks,
adafruit
User avatar
adafruit
 
Posts: 11511
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:21 pm
Location: nyc

Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by 6sigma on Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:34 pm

Depending upon how much theory you want to include, there's always Forrest Mims' terrific book.
6sigma
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:59 pm

Re: Need help Planning a Basic Electronics Course

by usafmx on Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:14 pm

EasternStarGeek,
this might be somewhat late to your need, but i have taught the Boy Scouts of America ELECTRONICS merit badge to this same age group for several years. The BSA Merit Badge Pamphlet would give you a very quick short cut to your proposal/grant. $4.50 at
http://www.scoutstuff.org/bsa/literature-media/merit-badge-pamphelts/electronics.html

The idea behind all 125+ merit badge subjects is to expose young people to a potential career or hobby they may not have otherwise experienced [some tech subjects include Robotics, Nuclear Science, Energy...]. The electronics pamphlet is broken into 6 straightforward "requirements" from safety to simple theory to circuits to soldering. It was put together with the guidance of the Electronic Industries Foundation's director of educational initiatives.

There are also some great posts here to guide teaching this age group and keeping it hands-on and fun!
in addition to the MB Pamphlet i too use Forrest Mims' "Getting Started in Electronics" as a reference.
One other thing i also borrow is prototyping using breadboards so they get a sense of success and understanding. With all the prototyping components they follow ElectronicsInstructor's great UTube lessons found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiqNaSPTI7w and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq9XMNsoAd8

Best of luck in your noble effort!
usafmx
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2011 2:05 pm
Location: Florida