Just wondered if anyone had any that they really rated well. My nearly 10 year old is very, very into electronics right now. He has lots of components (and we're a short walk from the local components supply store, where he often goes to browse!), he can use a soldering iron fine, and my brother, who is an electrical engineer, often takes defunct stuff apart with him. Just looking for stuff to pique his interest really. He's also very into robots and computers, and can already do basic programming in C and vbasic, in case anyone has any ideas there...I remember when I was his age, books with cool electronics projects to do, but I'm not really finding any.
In case anyone else has a similar kid by the way, just to say that the Khan Academy stuff and especially Spout (sensing robot build from cheap components) is really great.
Not really what you're asking about but I'm just wondering whether you might have a HackerSpace near you? Sounds like he was born to hang out in one of these places....
Can't remember exactly where you are but there are a few in the UK.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Miranda, thanks, that looks pretty awesome. Just found our nearest is around an hour's drive away, sadly not in a city we have much other reason to visit, though its generally a very innovative city so we find ourselves there a fair bit (Bristol, UK). For a pretty trivial monthly free you get free access to an amazing space with people, tools, etc. It looks like exactly the resource an un/homeschooled sciencey kid needs. And while we don't have a hackerspace, we have enough of a DIY network and ethos locally, that we're pretty involved in, that I can see this could be interesting to talk with others about. Thanks.
You might want to take a look into microcontrollers. To me, for a child with an interest in robotics, microcontrollers are the next thing to learn about after basic circuits and programming. There are a few different ones on the market for hobbyists, and at least one of them (arduino) has a lot of support for novice users. Arduino's site is http://www.arduino.cc/
My father bought the Arduino Starter Kit for my almost 8yo this summer. It comes with a breadboard, the microcontroller board, an assortment of electrical elements, and a project book. You have to download the open source software to go with it. The projects start right from the beginning of introducing circuits and then step upwards through programming the microcontroller and more complicated sets of inputs and outputs, with the intent being that after completing the book, someone would be able to either find other projects online to follow or start designing their own interfacing projects.
I haven't looked through the entire book yet, nor downloaded the software, but what I have read looks like a good intro to microcontrollers. The book is not written for young children, but some of the projects are meant to appeal to children and the book is written assuming the reader has little prior knowledge; a determined or interested child should be all right with the book.
OK, that looks like a sales pitch - sorry about that. I haven't actually used the hardware as I haven't even unpacked it from the trip to my parents yet; it's in a suitcase. There are other microcontrollers on the market, and there are other kits aimed at students. We got this one because my father had come across it and wanted one for himself and got extras for the grandkids - I was only starting to research the different microcontrollers now available to hobbyists when he told me he'd bought this one. Your local electronics store or brother may have something else to recommend.
Lots of very cool kits and also Arduino projects here: http://www.makershed.com/
My son has the 4WD Arduino robot- might be right up your son's alley, as it requires building, soldering and C++ (I think) programming. Some smaller projects too- my son got a big kick out of the TV-B-Gone :)
My son is nine and has very similar interests.
Writing, reading, unschooling.
everyone, thanks so much, I've had a really good time looking at the links! I've just ordered the Make magazine basic book of electronics which looks like a good basic work through textbook and also the Make magazine current issue which happens to be on robotics. I've also found that there's a hackspace starting up in my city which is amazing. And my brother is actually involved with the London one, which I'd completely failed to register somehow, so we might take a look when we're down there (its in a part of London that's not really that easy to get to).
Also think Arduino looks like the way to go, though actually the brushbots look like a lot of fun too! http://www.makershed.com/Build_your_own_scuttling_BrushBot_p/msbb.htm
We love the SNAP Circuits...they have various kits. They're kind of like Legos, but electronic. You snap them together to make circuits. I have the Jr kit for ds, and he's gone through the first 15 or so (out of 100) things you can do with it. If your son is soldering, he may be beyond these, though, not sure. I do like that these are more or less safe for the kid to play with on his own (as long as they know a few basic electricity safety rules).
lmk1, my son really loved those kits when he was younger, and my 5 year old loves them too. They are great and deffo got him interested.
We got our boys some of those old electronic project kits (my brother used to play with them in the 70s) on ebay for really cheap. They always come with a huge book of projects. A good breadboard kit would be good, too, if he doesn't already have one.
If he wants to learn some other programming languages, try Codecademy. They have Java, Python and several others. Also, look at educade - they might have some ideas for working his interests into other school subjects.
I have several other sites listed on my blog (see signature) about game design and stuff like that.
Lori the Unflappable
Big Guy (14), history, Dr. Who and gaming
Little Buddy (10), science, Minecraft and Heeleys
Plethorahomeschool.com, my attempt to organize the web's resources for homeschooling.
Whoah, Lori, that is an awesome site you have there! Thank you, I've been skimming through the links. Looks great! I can never seem to find stuff like that!
If he is interested in computer game design, check out these (all free, though you can buy full version of GameMaker if you like the lite version and want more): Scratch, Kodu, GameMaker
If he likes Stop Motion animation: SAM animation software (again, basic version free)
If he like digital animation: Mine-i-mator (fairly simple Minecraft character animation) or Blender (complex 3D digital animation- there are good tutorials on YouTube)
Writing, reading, unschooling.
Whoa! It's cool to me to find maker folks here.
Electronics, I love electronics. All that programming is fine, but I live for hands-on projects. For electronics projects, definitely check out instructables. It has awesome step-by-step instructions for all sorts of projects. For instance, try sorting electronics and easy:
Hmm. Where else? The makershed books are a pretty good set of books. I also like the adafruit tutorials, http://learn.adafruit.com/. Try the RGB LED mood cube one, for instance, that's a good beginner's project for arduino (the most popular hobbyist microcontroller nowadays). Sparkfun also has good tutorials: https://learn.sparkfun.com/. In the same hobbyist vein there is evil mad scientist labs, they make cool LED and other projects: http://shop.evilmadscientist.com/directory
I would also just look up "555 timer projects", as well as wander over to Hackaday for inspiration of cool things to build.
Other things... MIT OpenCourseWare is of course dear to my heart. There's one on speakers (http://ocw.mit.edu/high-school/engineering/audio-and-speaker-electronics/).
Here's a neato pinterest thread of engineering resources, although I haven't personally visited a lot of them (some of them may be too childish) http://pinterest.com/HomeschoolDivas/homeschooling-engineering/
Oh! And let's not forget diy.org (get skills. be awesome). they have a whole project-based way or earning badges. I haven't tried them out but have had homeschooling parents recommend it to me, which is a good sign.
===okay i like robotics so here are some tangential robotics resources==
Robotics... I'm sure you've heard of FIRST lego league, right?
Not to be biased or anything, but if he's into robots he will probably also like the Making Things Move book. (go mechanical engineering!).
and... http://www.societyofrobots.com/ these is a good 'fundamental principles" site, if you're going for the more from-scratch robot building.
there's also letsmakerobots, e.g. i like hexapods and here's one made out of chopsticks: http://letsmakerobots.com/node/26107?page=5
Let me know if you have any questions or want to wander over to mechanical engineering instead :) I could linkdump forever, since I'm happy to read about engineering all the time.
Cassidy and Narwhal thank you so much! I'm really looking forward to going through these resources (I'm away from home and can't use any graphics heavy sites because I have basically no bandwidth). Really very excited. When we finally get home (we have building work going on in our house that seems to be just taking longer and longer, so are staying with anyone who will have us right now ;-) ) will sit down with my son and have a really good look and then report back.
I've used MITOpen myself and its the most awesome project. Basically, since becoming a largely SAH/WAHM I've been also studying science, broadly in the framework of a chemistry degree: I'm doing chemistry third year now so that's probably what will be on my degree but I've also done physics and math through second year. MITOpen has been the most amazing resource. I'm studying via a distance learning program-the Open University which is a UK based distance learning university program, and its great but cannot compete with the lecture program of MIT. Going back a few years, both the chemical science and the physics first year lectures were both an absolute godsend. I'm incredibly enthusiastic about it :-), obviously.
Have also bought a few Make books and have downloaded a few of their back issues. And deffo going to a few hackspaces to check them out. Turns out my brother is an active member of the London hackspace, and once I started ferreting through contacts, there are a few other people I know who are involved in the two hackspaces close to me.
Quick question. Anyone know of any good resources on robotics and ethics/philosophy, obv suitable for a kid? I know they do exist and I remember reading, say, the Asimov essays as a kid, but I'd like some more pointers. He's very into his science fiction and ideas around robotics/morality are ones he finds interesting.
DIY.org. Its a weird one, its never taken with him. Not sure why. But he's getting to an age where some kind of record of what he's done up to now might be wise, I think and we've spoken in the past about using DIY.org for that. (because we have technically no requirement to report to anyone, tbh I have literally NO records of their learning. I don't really even keep stuff like the odd worksheet they do. If I were pushed to prove they were learning I'd probably have to ask friends/trawl facebook for photos from workshops or something! That's probably not good and I'm not especially proud of it but we've never really seen learning as something that distinct that it needs special recording)
|Homeschooling , Learning Resources , Unschooling|