Adafruit launches educational show aimed at kids

adafruit-kids-show

Adafruit Industries just posted the first episode in a new educational series aimed at teaching kids about electronics. The episode is entitled “A is for Ampere” and teaches the basic theory behind electrical current. The subject seems like a common one for A-to-Z themed electrical tutorials. [Jeri Ellsworth] did a similar episode but hers is aimed more at the electronics hobby crowd.

[Limor] and gang (that’s [Collin Cunningham] dressed up as [Andre-Marie Ampere]) seem to be all-in on this project. The episode features ADABOT, the blue puppet which takes on the role of the student in this episode. After demonstrating a mains circuit breaker tripping the episode goes on to discuss electron flow and how current is measured.

We’re all about this type of educational opportunity. The age group at which this series is targeted have never known a day without touchscreens, they should know at least something about how those devices actually work.

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Only you can kick a child’s balls into space

We had a lot of fun with that title. Of course when you’re talking about launching a thousand ping pong balls into space there’s no end to the puns which can be made. But this is actually a fantastic initiative to get people of all ages excited about science and near-space experiments. [John Powell] offers school children the opportunity to send an experiment into space. He’s Kickstarting the next launch, which is scheduled to take place in September. This way each entrant can fly their project for free, then get the results and a certificate back once the weather-balloon-based hardware is recovered.

There is one size restriction for the program. Each experiment must fit inside of a ping pong ball. But you’ll be surprised what can be accomplished. [John] reports that the most simple, yet interesting project is to place a small marshmallow inside the ball. As it rises through the atmosphere it will grow to fill the entire ball, then be freeze-dried by the the extreme temperatures. Some are not so low-tech. There’s an image of a tiny PCB holding a DS1337 and some sensors. It’s an atmospheric data logger that will provide plenty of information to analyze upon its return.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

Fuzzy time used to keep the kids in bed

Like many parents, [Mike Tsao] is plagued by his kids’ urge to rise like the dead long before he’s ready to wake up. In an effort to preserve sanity, he built this clock to let the young ones know when it’s okay to get out of bed. Fittingly, he calls it the OK-Wake.

You may notice that the clock doesn’t have a display. That’s because his children are still too young to tell time (this is the foundation for needing a custom clock). Instead, that LED acts as the feedback. At night it will be off. Starting ninety minutes before it’s time to wake the LED will begin to pulse red, increasing in frequency as the target time approaches. When it’s okay to get out of bed the LED turns green and exhibits a pleasant “breathing” behaviour.

An ATtiny25 drives the device, along with an RTC chip. The single button is used to set the alarm. Actual time doesn’t really matter at all. Instead, the button just sets the alarm for twelve hours from when it’s pressed.

Choreographed Christmas light show (x4)

[Lucas] is at it again this year. Not satisfied by the computerized systems available on the market, [Lucas] decided to build on last year’s project. To save a bit of cash, he built the setup around Parallax’s low-cost SX28 proto board. The system is capable of controlling 102 channels, with 8-bit dimming. 6 boards control 7 channels each and are communicated to through a serial protocol (reducing the whole setup to only 36 feet of wiring).

More importantly, he’s teamed up with 3 other neighbors who also share a passion for outdoor Christmas lighting and they’ve put together the Christmas Tour of Lights. Money raised from all donations goes directly to the St. Jude Children’s Reasearch Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Toddler computer remote

[Killerdark] has built a simple remote for his toddler to control videos on a PC. He gutted a USB number pad, built a new enclosure with the necessary buttons clearly labeled, and mapped the buttons in software.  He could have possibly done better with larger color coded buttons, but really, it seems to work well as is. This reminds us of the giant iPod remote from back in 2006. Good job [Killerdark]