Author Topic: Teaching to solder, how young is too young  (Read 14482 times)

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Offline GreyWoolfe

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Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« on: April 06, 2016, 11:59:33 am »
I am asking this as I was asked to teach another basic soldering class for my ham radio club.  Among those interested is a family with 4 young children, 3 of them hams.  I believe at least 2 or 3 are under the age of 10, the youngest, I think, is around 6-7 and none of them teenagers.  This makes me nervous as this will be a club function and I don't want to run into legal issues if any of the children hurt themselves.  The club does have liability insurance, but I don't want to be the one using it.

I am asking for a general opinion.  What is the youngest age you would be willing to teach to solder?  Having never taught children to solder, I don't know that I would be comfortable teaching anyone under the age of 16.  I would like to think that by then they should have decent motor skills and at least a modicum of self control to be serious about safety.
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Offline dfmischler

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2016, 12:02:07 pm »
I started learning to solder when I was about 8 years old.  Cheap soldering iron.  Soldered together the parts for a crystal radio.  My Dad was patient, but, in retrospect, not very skilled.  Most of his soldering experience was sweating copper pipe with a propane torch.

I started learning to run an oxyacetylene torch when I was 13.  Ditto for arc welding,
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 12:24:23 pm by dfmischler »
 

Offline wkb

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2016, 12:14:35 pm »
I was thought to solder when I was 8 or 9 years old.  IMHO it highly depends on the individual kid you are trying to teach.  I did quite some youth club training of kids
<< 10 years old and it typically just works.  Make sure you have a proper ratio of teachers versus pupils, in my experience they can quicky 'overrun'  you otherwise  :scared:

As for legal: lawyers are a pest to humanity  |O
 

Offline XOIIO

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2016, 12:23:04 pm »
I think if they try to use the iron as a soother, it's probably a little early.

I think i probably got my first iron at 10/11 or something, maybe it was younger, I can't remember my past all that well, but it's only because I got it from some relatives, and I didn't really get much support or interest in my hobby from my parent.

Changes are she probably didn't know where to find one either though.

Ah the joys of being self taught.

Offline Kjelt

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2016, 12:26:02 pm »
I taught my stepson at age 10. No problem however prepare them for the danger.
My first lesson: "did you ever burn yourself on hot boiling water"? Do you know how that hurts?
Then look at this <put a hot solderiron at a wetspunge and let is sizzle wildly>  "this iron is three to four times hotter then boiling water so never touch the hot end or it will hurt bad.

Make sure you have solder irons with large enough and good colored handles and proper holders, not the fancy smd ones where an accident can happen easily.
My son was darn proud on his first led dice pcb, showed it to everyone. That's why you want to do it  ;)
 

Offline XOIIO

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2016, 12:27:49 pm »
I taught my stepson at age 10. No problem however prepare them for the danger.
My first lesson: "did you ever burn yourself on hot boiling water"? Do you know how that hurts?
Then look at this <put a hot solderiron at a wetspunge and let is sizzle wildly>  "this iron is three to four times hotter then boiling water so never touch the hot end or it will hurt bad.

Make sure you have solder irons with large enough and good colored handles and proper holders, not the fancy smd ones where an accident can happen easily.
My son was darn proud on his first led dice pcb, showed it to everyone. That's why you want to do it  ;)

Holders? We don't need no stankin holders. You just let it rest on the desk and have to be real careful not to knock the cord lol. I switched to soldering on the floor with some comfortable pillows for that reason XD

It was one of those shitty direct wall plug ones too.

Offline alanb

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2016, 12:31:39 pm »
It depends on the degree of supervision you can give. I have recently taught my eight year old grandson however there were a couple of occasions where I had to grab his hand to stop him burning him self. You cant give this degree of supervision for a group.
 

Offline Kilrah

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2016, 12:50:58 pm »
I was 6 or 7.
 

Online Ian.M

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2016, 12:57:05 pm »
In school at age 10 (IIRC, many years ago), we were using Bunsen burners, heating stuff in test tubes, melting and drawing glass rods and tubes etc.  However the class size was small, the supervision was close, the teacher had many years of formal teaching experience, and, back then it was a far less litigatious society.

With eye protection, and appropriate clothing (no synthetic fibre outerwear, long sleeves & trousers) the risk of serious injury is low, but you cannot reduce the risk of a burn requiring hospital treatment to zero. 

IANAL, but would think it reasonable to require a written acceptance of the risk assessment from parents of children under 16, and if they themselves don't solder, they should be taught beforehand so they can give informed consent.

What the cut-off age should be is a very difficult question.  Some children shouldn't be allowed to handle hot, or sharp objects, poisons or power tools until they are full adults, and even then should be discouraged!  Others are fine at a much younger age.   Maybe consult a local junior school science teacher to find out what age  they start working with concentrated heat sources and high temperatures?

As its an introductory/basics class, IMHO it would be entirely reasonable to require 1:1 supervision from a parent who has already taken the course or demonstrated competency, to allow under 16s to attend.
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2016, 01:04:06 pm »
The chances of an avoidable accident will depend on why each individual is there, and on the pupil-teacher ratio.

I notice that when the local boy scouts are given flying lessons, some are extremely responsible and well behaved, and some aren't. The latter seem uninterested in flying (i.e. along for the ride, ho ho) and start goofing off with each other.

Personally I'd want at least one supervisor for each soldering iron - however many kids share it. Often when people (of any age) are sharing a tool they will cooperate with each other and learn from each other.

You should, of course, check that any insurance does cover people of that age; some policies are only for "over 16" or whatever.

There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline Brumby

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2016, 01:17:14 pm »
Personally I'd want at least one supervisor for each soldering iron - however many kids share it. Often when people (of any age) are sharing a tool they will cooperate with each other and learn from each other.

You should, of course, check that any insurance does cover people of that age; some policies are only for "over 16" or whatever.

Two good points there.  IMHO, it would be easier to have each iron watched like a hawk since it stays in one place.

The other is just a matter of prudence>  If the insurance does NOT cover the activity and/or ages, whoever is in charge could end up personally liable.
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2016, 01:19:15 pm »
As for 'How young is too young?' - this is the best answer....

Some children shouldn't be allowed to handle hot, or sharp objects, poisons or power tools until they are full adults, and even then should be discouraged!  Others are fine at a much younger age.
 
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Offline IanB

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2016, 01:28:14 pm »
I am asking for a general opinion.  What is the youngest age you would be willing to teach to solder?  Having never taught children to solder, I don't know that I would be comfortable teaching anyone under the age of 16.  I would like to think that by then they should have decent motor skills and at least a modicum of self control to be serious about safety.

I was certainly much under the age of 16 when I first learned to solder. Age is secondary to intelligence and competence at any given task. Some children are smart and some children are dumb (just like adults!).

Here is a point of reference for illustration. Sylvia started doing these shows when she was eight:

https://youtu.be/9MH0mw-Lgi0
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Offline rdl

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2016, 01:30:23 pm »
I wouldn't do it. Not in America, the land of the lawyers.

Maybe you could require each child have a parent present and teach/demonstrate to the group as a whole, but have the parents actually instructing their children.

Double win, parent learns something too.
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2016, 01:33:37 pm »
I wouldn't do it. Not in America, the land of the lawyers.

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Online coppice

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2016, 02:53:06 pm »
When I was 11 we used machines in the school metalwork and woodwork shops, as part of the general curriculum, which could remove your arm. At what age do most people teach their children to cook on the kitchen hob? They have much greater risk of injury there, than using a soldering iron.

I learned to solder at about 8 or 9. At about 13 or 14 I designed and built my own all vacuum tube oscilloscope, with sections running at up to 500V, and the tube EHT running somewhat higher. My father was an electromechanical engineer, so he was very much aware of the risks involved in these things. He supervised me at first, and backed off when I showed enough competence.
 

Offline calexanian

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2016, 03:44:48 pm »
I was about 10. Growing up in an electronics manufacturing family business I would just to to an assembler and have them tin something for me. Usually involving sticking a couple wires together. At 10 dad said it was time for me to learn how to assemble. They started me off on single sided non solder masked boards on one of our more simple products. We had Ungar irons. They were so hot the tips would glow cherry red. By the time I worked my way up to doing the digital stuff I was 16 and we had upgraded to the weller WTCPT stations. 
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Offline donkey77

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2016, 03:51:50 pm »
I taught both my kids last year, one to one. I had to pop into Maplins with the kids for some overpriced item or other. They saw the kits available so got my son (9) a bug/robot thing and my daughter (7) a flashing led christmas tree. They both did well and took it seriously although I think one of them might have had a quick touch of the tip, doubt they would do it again though!
 

Offline IanB

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2016, 05:32:03 pm »
I think one of them might have had a quick touch of the tip, doubt they would do it again though!

Everyone touches the hot end of a soldering iron when they first get to use one. How else will you find out how hot it is, and how likely it is to burn you?
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Online Ian.M

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2016, 05:39:07 pm »
I think one of them might have had a quick touch of the tip, doubt they would do it again though!
Everyone touches the hot end of a soldering iron when they first get to use one. How else will you find out how hot it is, and how likely it is to burn you?
Some of us even still wipe excess solder off the bit with our thumbs.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2016, 01:20:15 am by Ian.M »
 

Offline Seekonk

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2016, 06:35:50 pm »
I suppose I was seven.  I feel blessed at the lack of parental supervision growing up.  My parents would be arrested today.  I learned there were consequences, like ending up to my neck in cow shit by walking past the end of concrete of a barn. There is talk of de-safetyfying children's parks because they are not learning they can be injured when they fall.
 

Offline Zeyneb

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2016, 11:50:47 pm »
@ Seekonk

I love this Joan Rivers quote: "I knew I was an unwanted baby when I saw that my bath toys were a toaster and a radio."

But seriously I agree with you. Children take much more responsibility when they realize "Hey it's now just upto myself" to make the right decisions. Then they can really advance in responsibility for that moment. Although you need to take care of their attention span. So don't make the activity too long.

I cannot suggest on your (the poster GreyWoolfe) legal safety. But I think a lot is possible with young children. Their attention and care for safety can really grow if you present the activity in a special way. Make the children feel privileged to this activity and agree with them that yes that thing does get really hot, and yes they can burn themselves badly. But if you can get them excited to go for a great looking outcome you can be surprised how well they perform. You can also ask the children directly to invest a significant amount of concentration for this activity. They will be feeling even more valued to join on this "grown-ups" activity. If you can make the activity very worthwhile to them you'll surround yourself by go-getter kids!
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Offline nanofrog

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2016, 12:18:32 am »
FWIW, I was 8 when I first learned to solder with a firestick. What instruction I had, was one-on-one by my dad, so not the same situation you'd be facing.

Given how litigious society is these days however, I'd be too scared to attempt it in a group. Maybe, and I stress this point, I might be willing to teach a minor via a one-on-one situation, but not a group (I'd probably be too scared if I get the slightest chance to think about it before committing to it).

Now if you know the parents well, that may change matters significantly.  ;)
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2016, 02:57:19 am »
Wrapping kids up in cotton wool is, IMHO, a sure way for them to fail in some elements of their later life - and sometimes catastrophically.  However, there is that duty of care that is every parent's responsibility.

My philosophy has been one of when they start climbing trees.  When they first begin, you keep close and keep them low.  When they slip, they will learn to be more careful and should they fall, the injuries will more likely be minor.  As they progress, you step further away and let them go higher until you get to the point that you have enough confidence in their abilities to leave them to their own devices.  After all - they will be going out on their own at some point and it's best they get a lot of practice managing things on their own before they do.

But seriously I agree with you. Children take much more responsibility when they realize "Hey it's now just upto myself" to make the right decisions. Then they can really advance in responsibility for that moment.

Indeed.

This was my approach when each of my kids learned to drive.  I'd give a few pointers and suggestions - then make it very clear they were responsible for their actions.  They didn't have to prove anything to me.



If you're going to put a soldering iron in the hands of an inexperienced person, such as a child, you are bound to have accidents.  Just do your best to make sure the risks are managed and the degree of injury is likely to be minor.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2016, 02:59:56 am by Brumby »
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: Teaching to solder, how young is too young
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2016, 09:12:59 am »
Wrapping kids up in cotton wool is, IMHO, a sure way for them to fail in some elements of their later life - and sometimes catastrophically.  However, there is that duty of care that is every parent's responsibility.

My philosophy has been one of when they start climbing trees.  When they first begin, you keep close and keep them low.  When they slip, they will learn to be more careful and should they fall, the injuries will more likely be minor.  As they progress, you step further away and let them go higher until you get to the point that you have enough confidence in their abilities to leave them to their own devices.  After all - they will be going out on their own at some point and it's best they get a lot of practice managing things on their own before they do.

I encouraged my daughter to climb trees. I told her where to put hands and feet, and then she got a twinkle in her eye. I told her "yes, you can climb higher, but higher that that point and I'll help you but I'm not coming up to get you". She went higher and fet che had achieved something.

Quote
But seriously I agree with you. Children take much more responsibility when they realize "Hey it's now just upto myself" to make the right decisions. Then they can really advance in responsibility for that moment.
This was my approach when each of my kids learned to drive.  I'd give a few pointers and suggestions - then make it very clear they were responsible for their actions.  They didn't have to prove anything to me.

I taught her to drive around a car park, and, when she could reach the pedals, on the dead-end part of an airfield peritrack, after a day learning how to fly gliders. We also went backpacking in India when she was 12 and 14, which gave her the confidence to backpack around Australia on her own before university.

It was all for naught, of course: she still accused me of wrapping her in cotton wool. But eventually she admitted otherwise, after coming into contact with other people at university :)
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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