I’ve been exposing my son Malachi to electronics and building things since he was born, and figured it was time to teach him how to solder. I purchased an electronic kit from a local electronics retailer, Fry’s Electronics. They sell more electronic components than Radio Shack. The kit that was selected was the Traffic Light kit… because I thought it was interesting, not annoying, and could be used with my son’s growing Matchbox/Hotwheels car collection.
Malachi is only 5 years old, and he’s already soldering very well! I let him make various mistakes so that when I told him how to fix them, he understood why he was doing it. The Weller soldering iron is a little big for him to handle, but that didn’t stop him from completing this project in a short period of time. He knows a lot of names of components already and hopefully the things I taught him on this project will retain in his brain for next time. He located and inserted all of the components, with a very little help from me. I taught him about polarity, and despite capacitors being labeled as (-) on the cap, and (+) on the PCB he did not get confused. He soldered everything! (except for three LEDs). I wanted him to be able to say he built the entire thing. The next kit we build will have to be a double sided board, so we don’t have the issues we were having with this one. I had to take over cutting the leads and ended up damaging some pads myself because of how bad the PCB was. I guess don’t buy kits from Fry’s Electronics… unless you can live with having to fix problems that pop up.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
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