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April 18, 2011 AT 1:00 am

“Greatest Hack Yet”

Dad teaches his five year old to solder, he writes..

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.


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8 Comments

  1. That’s pretty cool. 😀
    It was my 5 year old that originally got me into Robotics and Micro controllers. Can’t wait to see how he does soldering. Was hoping to get better myself before handing him the gun. hehe

    Keep it up Malachi. Very inspiring. ^_^

    -AaronMA

  2. Probably should be teaching to clip before soldering

  3. Thanks for posting! I hope my son can inspire more parents to teach their kids difficult things. They really CAN do it 😉

    -Brett W. (FightCube.com)

  4. bigbodysmallbrain

    ah i remember my first kit it was a JYE pocket Osilloscope and boy was it hard mt second kit was one of adfruit’s USBtinyISP kits which was much easier. but its good to see young people interested in electronics.

  5. First we had ladyada on the cover of Wired as one of the world’s most well known female "Maker Hero"/engineers, I’ve got a feeling next will have a cover of Malachi as the world’s most well known 5 year old maker

    The part about polarity on caps is amazing since I know 20+ year olds that’s get confused by that one

  6. Is there any concern with kids that young and soldering though when using even ‘non-lead’ based solder?

  7. Wow, and I thought I got started early at 10! Awesome job Brett, you must be one hell of a dad.

  8. Hey, I thought it was cool when I taught my 11 year old nephew how to solder- I helped him pick out parts from the bin, explaining in the simplest terms how they would work and not work, teaching components using the usual water metaphor.. I let him solder and such, and he showed that thing off for a week, which is roughly 2.6 years in their timescales.

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