Your child belongs to a generation born into advanced technology. Compared to those of us who had to live with dial-up connections and CDs before eventually entering the era of the Netflix and Amazons of this world, they will be growing up around even faster and more advanced technologies that have endless possibilities. So if your little one is starting to display an interest in the world around them, it’s a good idea to let them get benefit from learning about electronics.
Learning about electronics will develop skills in problem-solving and experimentation. If you want your child to learn about electronics, then here’s how you can get started.
Get familiar with electronics
Start your child’s journey by using STEM electronics kits that they can tinker with. Invest in educational toys or even breadboards and components to help your little ones get familiar with the basic parts of electronic circuits and devices.
These tools will help them understand the parts that make up basic electronics. Plus, it will allow them to experiment and build their own circuits without causing any damage or harm. Guide them as they create several possibilities for the circuits until they’re confident enough to start experimenting on their own.
Explain how things work
When your child is more comfortable with STEM electronics kits, it is time to introduce them to the more theoretical aspect of the basics of electronics. To make this easier to understand, you can try demonstrating it through the toys they already have, pictures, or even fun craft projects, like light-up plush toys, bookmarks, or greeting cards!
You can use all these to help your child understand one of the basics about electronics, which is the closed-loop. The closed-loop is made up of three components. The first one is the voltage source, which is where the power or the electricity comes from. The voltage source can come in the form of batteries, generators, or power systems. The second component is the load, which is what uses up electricity to be able to accomplish a function. The load can be anything that needs electricity, such as a fan or a LED bulb. The last component in a closed loop is a circuit, which connects the voltage source and the load. The circuit usually comes in the form of copper sheets, which serve as a pathway for electricity to flow.
After you explore these concepts, your child can learn more about different types of circuits, such as open circuits, short circuits, series circuits, and parallel circuits. You should try explaining these concepts by demonstrating how your electronics at home receive power. For example, if you switch on a light bulb, it will create a closed circuit because the electricity flows from the energy source to the bulb, which produces light. If you switch it off, however, it will create an open circuit, which causes the energy to stop flowing.
Know the basics of a circuit
A circuit is a path for electricity to go along (Circuit sounds a lot like a circle and is a great way to remember the word). There are 3 basic components to build a simple circuit
1. a “source” of electrical power, such as a battery or household wall outlet,
2. a conductive “path,” such as wire and,
3. a “load” that needs electrical power to operate, such as a lamp
Can you complete the circuit in the image below and make the LED light up?
*REMEMBER ! – Electricity will only flow when the circuit is closed i.e- the source is connected to the load using the path in a circular manner. It is also important that the circuit is closed in the right way so electricity can move in the right direction from (+) to the (-) side.
Understand how Breadboard works
Breadboard is the white rectangular plastic board with lots of tiny holes. This board works as a base and allows you to insert wires and electronic components to make a circuit. You can easily remove and reconnect the different parts as you like. As long as you have created a circular path for the electricity to flow through, the circuit will work. You can use and reuse breadboards to make all sorts of fun electronic projects like this tilt-activated nightlight.
Most breadboards have numbers, letters and signs (+ and -) written on them. They will help you locate the holes so you can follow the instructions when you are building your own circuits. The letters are on the columns and numbers are along each row. For example, A15 is the hole where column A meets row 15.
The breadboard is made up of sets of 5 metal clips connected to each other. Columns A-E and columns F-J are electrically connected along each row. For example, Hole A1, B1, C1, D1 and E1 are all connected to each other. But they are NOT connected to F1, G1 holes or to the holes in the next row i.e A2, B2 or F2, G2.
Build a simple circuit using a Breadboard !
1. Insert batteries into the battery holder.
2. Insert (+ side) into H25. Insert the other end (- side) into B25.
3. Insert one end of wire in A25 and other end into A7
4. Connect resistor: Insert the ends into B7 and G13
5. Insert short leg of LED in H13 and long leg (+) into H16
6. Insert the shorter wire into J16 and J25
The circuit is complete and the LED should light up!
Experiment with more advanced projects
Once your child understands the basic concepts of STEM electronics kits, you can help satisfy their curiosity even more and expand their knowledge by moving onto more advanced projects.
They can start by learning how to solder or how to use transistors. From here, older kids, and those who are a little more advanced, can start looking into what a PCB is. Found in most modern devices today, PCBs, or printed circuit boards, are a type of electrical circuit with all its components contained within a mechanical structure. Kids with more advanced knowledge can even start by designing their own PCBs! They can also start to use microcontrollers, which help control the functions of an electronic device. With all this knowledge in mind, your child can explore different possibilities through their own motors, robots, and other electronics.
Check out our Tilt Activated Night Light Kit and build your own first electronics kit!