Thursday, October 25, 2012

Electronics class

We are about 5 weeks into our year long electronics class that meets for two hours every Wednesday. I have a teacher come over from Robotics and Beyond to show the children how to put a computer together using recycled computers and parts.  Once they have a working computer the children download Linux (ubuntu or  xubuntu).  The children are going to be taught to write short programs using Linux.

Things I have learnt so far observing this process:

  • Old computers are thrown out for a reason usually.
  • It takes a long time to check if a computer is actually functional.
  • Installing Linux is not always a piece of cake.
  • Everyone needs their own mouse and screen.
  • There is a steep learning curve to get a comfort level with the components.
The miracle is that it can be done with perseverance and grit.

The second aim of the course is to make/build something using electronics that the children can take to the Maker Faire in April.

Most of the children have a project they are working on. Claire is making a dog collar with a GPS locator on it.  She wants to be able to track a dog who could potentially escape our yard.

Tristan wants to make a rover that can climb a Lego Minecraft style landscape. He wants to use our old train table, build a lego landscape and have things on it that the rover could "discover".

Each child gave a presentation explaining their idea. Each idea was evaluated based on its complexity using a rating system. Now the children have to go about finding the components they will need to build it.

Today we had the fortune of an IT engineer to assist the children in formulating their ideas.  What everyone wants to do is complex and requires effort and thought.  Every week the children are brought back to their projects and hopefully as the months go on, we will see some interesting manifestations of all of this work.  

The beauty of this process is that the children will be able to see the path from incubation of an idea to the actual manifestation of the idea.  Something in their head has been manifested in its physical form.

Reaping the psychological reward of finishing a project and sharing it with the world is often enough to stimulate further projects. I am hoping this class is laying the groundwork for a lifetime of creative projects.

1 comment:

  1. Electronics/circuitry has become a favorite here too! It is such a valuable life skill. I wish I could hang a ceiling fan and program a computer!