I’d have to check with my mother, but I am pretty sure that Christmas ’88 through Christmas ’92 Santa exclusively brought me electronics project kits. Disappointed not to find the next piece of Voltron under the tree, I worked my way up through the kits until I took the next logical progression and (many years later) completed a degree in Electronic Engineering.
Wow, who would have thought such simple kits would guide me through to adulthood. I always wonder what kind of private island I would be living on if Santa had delivered the “Little Stockbroker” kit instead?
Daydreams and financial regrets aside, the influences, interests and opportunities we have as children develop our passions, studies and careers as adults. It is more important than ever to nurture those natural talents that children show and bring them forward, whether inside or outside of the classroom.
So with that, here are five electronics projects for students that can ignite a spark and create a real life-long passion for electronics.
Electronics Projects for Students
E is for Electronics (open-source coloring book)
OK, well we do need to start somewhere… It’s a pretty big leap to get a four year old plugging diodes, so the “E is for Electronics” coloring book is a perfect place to start.
As the first ever open-source electronics coloring book, the whole package of artwork and information is really well put together. The book dedicates each page to a letter of the alphabet (A through Z) and using clear and interesting pictures, describes an electronic concept for each. A really neat little resource and the best part is, being open-source, the book is absolutely FREE!
Elenco create the most popular series in electronics projects kits – Snap Circuits. The kits are actually not at all far off what I used to learn electronics. These modern versions do a much better job clarifying the theory of what is happening though, not to mention they can do much cooler stuff. The kits give students the freedom to build whatever electronics projects they like, while providing a safe and structured platform to create in.
The kits come in a number of sizes with the Snap Circuits Extreme SC-750 being the best balance between price and functionality. Students can build over 750 electronics projects such as a sound activated switch, lie detector, adjustable light controller, am radio, rechargeable battery and many more.
The larger SC-750R Student Training Program is a better option for schools, including a kit case and 138 page student guide, while the smaller Junior SC-100 is a cheaper option that limits students to the basic 100 projects.
Also part of the Snap Circuits range, Snap Circuits Lights takes electronics projects for students in a different direction. With a real focus on using electronics with sound and light, the projects are a great next progression for students comfortable building basic circuits.
The feature that I like most about the Lights version is the ability to connect an audio device (such as iPod or MP3 player) and have the circuit interact with the music (lights flash with the beat, etc.). There is an Infrared detector to use as a light sensor, strobe light and glow-in-the-dark fans so a lot of excitement and interaction can occur.
Having received the Creative Child –Toy of the Year award and also being the best selling physics/science kit on Amazon, the Snap Circuit kits are a great way to introduce electronics to enthusiastic students.
It might not be as flashy as the circuit kits, but if students want to advance their electronics projects there is no getting away from the soldering iron.
The Learn to Solder Kit includes everything necessary for students to start their first solder electronics project. This entails solder, board, a soldering iron and wire cutters. There is a special area of the board for practicing and getting technique perfect. Once comfortable using the iron, students can construct their own siren with flashing LED project.
It does need to be highlighted that soldering irons get extremely hot, so do make sure younger students are supervised and aware of the dangers.
Possibly, if not probably, the most exciting thing to ever happen in amateur electronics, Raspberry Pi was first released just over a year ago. Already making a huge impact in schools, universities and bedrooms around the globe, there is not much this credit card sized device cannot do.
The tiny computer (that’s right, there’s a whole computer in there) runs on open-source Linux, allowing it to be produced at very low cost, making it perfect for schools. In fact Google actually purchased 15,000 of these for schools across the UK.
Here is a taste of the types of electronics projects for students that can be accomplished:
- Build your own portable computer
- Build a robot that speaks your tweets aloud
- Use a Raspberry Pi to automate time-lapse photos
- Build a Pandora jukebox
The influences, interests and opportunities we have as children develop our passions, studies and careers as adults.
Do you have any great hardware or software you are using with electronics projects for students? Leave a comment and let us know how you are turning sparks into super-charged volts!