Author Topic: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?  (Read 2320 times)

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Offline randsl

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What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« on: September 20, 2017, 06:53:16 am »
Hi guys,

Hope this question fits here,

What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
Mine is still 3 yrs. I know she's too small... but would like to know what's the best age and what you've used if you've done so....

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Online ataradov

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2017, 07:23:40 am »
I was introduced to electronics at the age of 6 or so. It was some Soviet electronics construction set with a bunch of circuits to try in the booklet. It was a good kit.
Alex
 

Offline BrianHG

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2017, 08:18:29 am »
When I was young, I had the interest all on my own and I started taking things apart around the age of 6.  I used to watch vigorously when a serviceman came to the house to repair the washing machine or TV.  Wait and see if your daughter begins to exhibit this as a natural behavior.  If so, you will now how and when to proceed.  If she doesn't, maybe electronics might not be for her.

If you do electronic projects at home on your own already, and she begins to watch, this is a start.  If she begins to ask more technical questions above the ranks of simple why and paying diligent attention without asking when you will be finished, you are now at the beginning and you have an idea of where her future will be......
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 08:23:32 am by BrianHG »
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Online tggzzz

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2017, 08:25:34 am »
As soon as they show interest. Naturally you will need to keep their short attention span in mind, so LEDs/buzzers plus battery, wire and optionally a switch are useful.

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

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2017, 08:27:06 am »
My eldest is 3 and a bit. He understands a basic circuit now and how to light up a LED with a battery, resistor and some croc clips.

Frankly I think you're never too young. I started him up 6 months ago with one of the $20 Component testers so he could watch the led flash as it tested. It also has a square wave generator that allows him to change the blink speed so he comes to grips with the menu and rotary encoder.

After we built some stuff a couple of weeks ago, as I was putting him to bed he said "Daddy, when it's Christmas time I'll get my *own* soldering iron". No, he won't. But the sentiment is nice :)

 

Offline nidlaX

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2017, 08:31:28 am »
Never too young, but I would be wary of what they get to play with. For example, I wouldn't have 3 year olds playing with components or boards that use leaded solder. Even if you teach them proper hygiene and supervise them, kids that age are typically not going to maintain themselves as they should around dirty objects.

Another consideration is how much time they spend with electronics / on the computer. You need to have a healthy balance between outdoor activities and indoor ones, especially when they're young. As they grow older, you can give them more freedom to choose how they spend their time.
 

Offline leeatljs

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2017, 08:34:25 am »
My daughter has shown an interest since about four years old, instead of binning her broken or outgrown toys I gave her a screwdriver and told her she could take them to bits.  She needed some help with some of the screws and clips but it keeps her happy for hours.  Now she is six, I bring old laptops and junk from work for her to dismantle.
 

Offline stmdude

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2017, 10:15:42 am »
I'd say it's very individual. Some kids are smarter than other.

My litmus test is when they understand the difference between wires that I say it's okay to play with (low voltage, CC limited), and random 220V cables they might encounter.
Until that point, all wires are off limits.
 
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Offline xani

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2017, 11:23:37 am »
Can kid hold soldering iron without trying to grab or eat the tip? Yes? That's old enough :D Just lock a current and volt limit on power supply to something low (that's one use for OVP/OCP on power suppy  ;D) and off you go
 

Offline A Hellene

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2017, 12:57:58 pm »
I am sorry, but there is not such a thing as 'the more appropriate age for a kid to learn' or to show their inclination. There is no 'Human User's Manual (for Idiots or not!)' because every individual is DIFFERENT from any other one. Period!

Personally, I did not (probably, 'refused to') speak before I was two years old; but, when I did I spoke flawlessly, like a grown man, because my family did never use any 'baby-talk' nonsense with me.

And, the moment I spoke, I also begun asking questions; lots of questions; and about anything new to me. I remember myself when I was three years old 'driving' our car with my hands on the wheel, while sitting on my father's knees and feeling car's wheel steering by itself, until I noticed that my father was also holding it at the bottom, out of my sight! If this was not encouragement and familiarisation, what else could it be?

Well, before I was four years old I already knew and easily recognised what a cold junction was, and clearly comprehended the benefits and the drawbacks of the in-series/-parallel battery topologies, already using my father's soldering iron and multimeter and assembling & playing with electronics kits, while dissecting anything I could lay my hand on! When I was five, I had my favourite Christmas present, a 1002 Circuits Box («?????????????????»: 'Polikiklomatistis' --I am sorry for the unreadable characters-- was the name back then). It was a giant box with lots of various components with their leads terminated to exposed small springs, which could be interconnected by wire to form '1002' simple and complex circuits, providing also with instructions and literature). A year later I was struggling to understand what a resistor, a capacitor, a diode, a coil, a vacuum tube, a relay, etc. were, already having university literature in my hands.

So, expose your children to any possible field and let them ask questions. You will very soon see what their field(s) of interest will be; and do not forget to encourage them to get their hands dirty!


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Offline randsl

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2017, 01:54:52 pm »

Wow! thanks for all the nice comments guys...

I was worried about handing her components with lead and power supplies, batteries etc.  Anyway, If a child is showing an interest, allowing to do something under adult supervision should be okey, I guess...

My daughter is already showing an interest on my development boards etc.
 I know that it's still too early to decide whether she's really into electronics or she's just curious on different coloured PCBs & glowing LEDs... Let's see how it goes...
 

Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2017, 02:13:47 pm »

Wow! thanks for all the nice comments guys...

I was worried about handing her components with lead and power supplies, batteries etc.  Anyway, If a child is showing an interest, allowing to do something under adult supervision should be okey, I guess...

My daughter is already showing an interest on my development boards etc.
 I know that it's still too early to decide whether she's really into electronics or she's just curious on different coloured PCBs & glowing LEDs... Let's see how it goes...
Just be careful not to push a child into a single subject too much. To me, fostering the imagination and curiosity across all of the engineering, science and artistic trades seems more important.
 

Offline stmdude

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2017, 02:28:08 pm »
My daughter is already showing an interest on my development boards etc.
 I know that it's still too early to decide whether she's really into electronics or she's just curious on different coloured PCBs & glowing LEDs... Let's see how it goes...

Here's an idea. Build something like this: http://www.instructables.com/id/Amazing-buttons-box-for-kids/
But, put the schematic on the box as well (I.e, lines between the buttons and lights). Most kids are scary smart when it comes to figuring things like that out, and she'll at least gain a basic understanding of a schematic whilst playing with buttons and shiny LEDs.
Keep stuff simple, but still throw her a "curveball" by having things like "you need to turn on this switch before these other switches do anything" in there.

( Now, why I didn't come up with this idea when my kids where young enough to be intrigued by shiny things is beyond me )
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2017, 02:39:40 pm »
I was worried about handing her components with lead and power supplies, batteries etc.  Anyway, If a child is showing an interest, allowing to do something under adult supervision should be okey, I guess...

More than "OK" - it is actively beneficial in many many ways.

Learning: it is important for them to realise that design and making (in their broadest senses) are something that people like them do - as opposed to supermen on the TV. It can also be helpful if they see that you don't know how to do something, but can learn. I learned to fly gliders at the same time as my daughter, and it was beneficial in many many ways unrelated to flying!

Safety: it is important for them to learn that they need to listen to experienced people, to recognise possible dangers, to think(!) how to reduce the dangers, and what to do if the dangers materialise. When young, they can't comprehend the dangers, so it is useful to vaccinate them. In the case of electricity, I vaccinated my daughter first with a Zerostat anti-static gun, and later with an electric fence (touch it with the back of the hand so your hand doesn't clamp down on it).

Naturally you should tailor how much you push or restrain them depending on their individual personality.

Quote
I know that it's still too early to decide whether she's really into electronics or she's just curious on different coloured PCBs & glowing LEDs... Let's see how it goes...

Her interests will change with monotonous regularity. Deal with it, and prepare to grab onto the relevant enthusiasms :) My daughter was inspired (only for a few weeks) into making model farms by seeing the Pendon Museum and chatting to people there.

Don't be put off by them saying "oh I'm not interested in X". My daughter said that about Corfe Castle - but when there she had a whale of a time scrambling over the battlements. She wasn't interested in learning to fly a glider, until after her first winch launch. (That requires repeated vaccination before you are allowed to go solo :) )
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline Ampera

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2017, 02:44:50 pm »
When I was 3-4ish my dad brought home a giant snap circut kit back from the local Radio Shack (when those were still a thing). It's a really cool kit, and the most interesting projects they had were the AM radio (which I couldn't build anymore due to a busted cap, maybe i should replace that cap and throw it together for old times)

I had an interest in computers and electronics since I was very very little. Ever since I threw my dad's C64 on the ground (yes I did) when I was 3ish I was hooked.

Yeah, I wouldn't give them raw components, but snap circuits are perfectly fine. They are easy to follow, and hard to break under supervision. Computer science is also a very closely related topic (and if they get good you can throw a RasPi or Arduino their way) that I was also under great interest in, learning the basics of HTML when I was 5-6ish. This is funny since like hell do I know how to use HTML anymore, nevermind something more complicated. I do "know" Java.

If you are talking electronic devices, grow them up without a smartphone. I am 15 and for the last 13-14 years I did not own a smartphone, and I did not want one. In my case it was a situation where the cost outweighed any benefits, and while today I have a smartphone, I rarely use it besides an occasional game of temple run. Give them a computer instead. Just have them tinker with it. Even it's just computer games, it can get them hooked. Today I own multiple computers and have a fascination in legacy computer hardware, having built various "retro" PC builds myself. I plan to go into Electric Engineering in the very near future (I go full time in less than 1 year) with a minor of Computer Science.

There is also one final important thing. Don't try to make it work, and do not force your kids to like EE or anything of the like. If they show an interest it, satisfy it best you can within reason, but if they just do not want to try engineering, do not force them to do it. I often wonder what other fields I may have gone into had things went differently. If I didn't do Engineering I would be doing Chemistry, and if I wasn't in an academic field I would become a commercial pilot. There is always more than one path, and you just need to help your child find it on their own. Whatever they decide to do, as long as they know the practicalities of it, and the realizations of it, is as valid as anything else (within reason).

I am a person who believes that children have the ability to take up on much more mature concepts than we give them credit for, and I am an example of that. If you let them, they will grow up fast, very very fast.
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Offline schmitt trigger

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2017, 02:47:10 pm »
The general answer would be: whenever they start showing an interest or aptitude for it.
Mind you, this is not constrained to electronics. It could be music, sports, painting, medicine....anything.
 

Online Yansi

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2017, 02:48:06 pm »
I wouldn't have 3 year olds playing with components or boards that use leaded solder. Even if you teach them proper hygiene and supervise them, kids that age are typically not going to maintain themselves as they should around dirty objects.

:palm:  :palm:
 

Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2017, 03:00:28 pm »
The general answer would be: whenever they start showing an interest or aptitude for it.
Mind you, this is not constrained to electronics. It could be music, sports, painting, medicine....anything.
I would argue that interests need to be grow by parents by making many things known and available, but yes, I would agree.
 

Offline RoGeorge

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2017, 03:09:15 pm »
Even if you teach them proper hygiene and supervise them, kids that age are typically not going to maintain themselves as they should around dirty objects.

Offtopic, but very important for parents from developed countries to understand:





Ontopic, the best age is when the kid starts to be interested in it. It may be 3, or 30, or never, I think it depends with each personality.

Speaking numbers, my oldest written memory is a dated paper from when I was 5 years old, were I was drawing electronics symbols on the left, and written their names on the right. Also, I remember playing with a flashlight, and lightning it's bulb with just the battery and a piece of wire when I was probably 3 or 4 years old, not very sure.

Online tggzzz

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2017, 03:27:47 pm »
I am a person who believes that children have the ability to take up on much more mature concepts than we give them credit for, and I am an example of that. If you let them, they will grow up fast, very very fast.

Very true.

I was playing/assembling model trains and learning to read when I was 3. I remember asking my father to teach me to read, the first "Janet and John" book, thinking the second was boring repetitive, and so moving on to reading newspapers :)

Wiring and electronic circuits had to wait until I was ~7.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline nidlaX

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2017, 05:44:07 pm »


Even if you teach them proper hygiene and supervise them, kids that age are typically not going to maintain themselves as they should around dirty objects.

Offtopic, but very important for parents from developed countries to understand:


Agreed, but also keep in mind that not all dirt is equal, and developing a good microfauna is not predicated upon exposing yourself to everything you consider "dirty".
 

Offline WA1ICI

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2017, 06:01:22 pm »
My father was an engineer and bought many Heathkits over the years that I assembled.  The first one, which I barely remember, was the Heathkit crystal radio (CR-1), then the 5-tube AM radio (BR-2).  This was about 1958 or so, so I was five years old.  This was followed by an oscilloscope, VTVM, audio oscillator, etc.  Every few years my dad would bring home an old TV chassis, which I would tear into for parts.  I also devoured my dad's college textbooks (Terman, Reich, etc.).

By the time I was 13 (1966) a friend of my father got me interested in ham radio, where I both built Heathkits and modified war surplus transmitters.  I also went through a biology and chemistry phase, but ended up loving electronics.  I was lucky in having a supportive father.  There didn't seem to be any fear of high voltages or solder.  I do remember grabbing the wrong end of a soldering iron when I was about ten years old  :-\.  I've gotten a few shocks over the years, but nothing too bad.

I would recommend exposing kids to electronics as early as possible.  With modern semiconductors, the danger is low.  Also, don't be afraid to give them advanced textbooks to read - they may not understand much, but information still sinks in, as if by osmosis.  But expose them to multiple fields - they will latch onto the one they like the best.

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Offline ruairi

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2017, 10:13:00 pm »
I've been meaning to start a thread here for a while related to this topic.  I have two girls, aged three and six.  Both of them are fascinated with the lab and will often join me when I work.  The rule is no touching anything without asking Dad.

Last year my older daughter and I built a (discontinued) Sparkfun Robot together and she absolutely loved the experience - https://www.sparkfun.com/products/retired/14062

Recently both girls built their first circuits completely from scratch, a battery, resistor, LED and switch.  The older girl did every step, stripping wires, soldering, heat shrink etc.  They were very proud of their builds.

I try not to focus on electronics but they help me with everything I repair.  Whenever they ask to help I always say yes, always, unless there is a danger and even then I explain that to them and show them why.  The goal is to foster a sense of curiosity and self confidence that they can figure things out.
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #23 on: September 20, 2017, 10:17:34 pm »
Yes indeed :)

The "little people" are fun. Personally I try to keep their interest (and joy) in simple everyday things alive
within myself. That's part of remaining young.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline HighVoltage

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Re: What's the best age to introduce kids to electronics?
« Reply #24 on: September 20, 2017, 10:25:51 pm »
My children started around age 3 to 4 to have fun in building circuits and use the solder iron and all kinds of other tools.
When they entered the school, they already knew how to build electro-magnets and other simple circuits out of leftovers and they shared these experiences in school.

I always got them involved at a very early age and they just loved it. I don't think you can start too early.
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