Educational Circuit Box for Young Aspiring Hackers

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Here’s a great idea: an Educational Circuit Box you can make to get kids interested in electronics! What looks like a boring project box with wires sticking out might just become a box of wonder and curiosity for young ones.

[Fileark] built this for his son, and has happily shared it on his blog for others to recreate. As you can probably guess from the picture, it makes use of a project box, LEDs, buttons, switches, and female header pins. Using the included breadboard jumpers picked up off of eBay, it allows your kid to learn about circuits by plugging in different components and seeing what happens.

The majority of the parts he used were salvaged from scrap electronics he had laying about. It’s a great way to turn e-waste into something fun and educational for kids! For more information about the project, stick around after the break to see [Fileark] explain (and his son demonstrate!) it in a video.

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Glowing Easter eggs more fun than a dye job

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This is a project to keep in mind for the kids next Easter. It uses electronics to light up your eggs instead of dying them (translated).

The project still has one foot in the old tradition as it starts by blowing out the eggs. The larger hole on the bottom, which was used to evacuate the yoke an albumen, ends up being just the right size to insert an LED. You could simply hook these up to a battery and resistor, but [Rene] decided to add some functionality by hiding an Arduino board in the fake grass of the Easter basket. This way the way the RGB LEDs can glow, blink, and rotate through different colors. And the foil covered chocolate bunnies aren’t just for show. He wired them up to the I/O pins of the Arduino to use as a switch. When they’re both placed on the same piece of foil it completes the circuit and starts the light show. See for yourself in the clip after the jump.

Of course for the older kids you’re going to need something more complicated to keep their attention.

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Adafruit launches educational show aimed at kids

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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.

Children’s light up toy is an easy hand-made gift

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While this year’s Christmas lists are dominated by electronic gadgets and other mass-produced toys, it wasn’t always like that. We’re not trying to sound like the old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn, but many of today’s gifts lack the personal touch found in old, hand-made toys.

[henlij’s] son is a budding electronics geek who loves playing with switches and lights, so he was inspired to build him a fun toy to pass the time. He constructed a simple box full of lights and switches that his son could toggle on and off to his heart’s content.

While there’s not a ton going on inside the box, we think that the idea is fantastic. With just a few dollars worth of simple components, anyone who knows their way around a soldering station can build something that will keep a child fascinated for hours.

There’s no reason to stop at buttons and lights either. If we were to build one, we would swap the bulbs out for LEDs, then add a wide variety of switches and dials along with speakers and any other components we could get our hands on.

The options are pretty limitless, so if you happen to know a child that gets a kick out of playing with buttons and switches, why not make him or her something special this year, much like [henlij] did for his son?

Minibloq Arduino IDE is in Beta and in need of testers

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If you have been chomping at the bit to give drag and drop Arduino programming a try, Minibloq is finally in Beta and ready for you to test!

We mentioned the application back in April of this year, when [Julián da Silva] was still in the early stages of developing the software. His graphical programming environment is meant to put the power of the Arduino and its derivatives into the hands of children in an easy fashion, with a gentle learning curve.

A lot has transpired since we first wrote about Minibloq, including a very successful Kickstarter campaign, along with many hours of programming and testing. The current Beta release includes a ton of features and programming “blocks” beyond what we saw earlier this year, so be sure to check out the video below for a quick tour of what’s new.

[Julián] says that the application’s source code will be released after they add a few key features, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested in taking a peek under the hood.

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