SparkFun Takes Their Educational Show On The Road


They’ve bought an RV and are headed for your state with buckets full of hobby electronic hardware. It’s SparkFun’s National Education tour and if you want them to host a workshop for kids in your area now’s the time to sign up!

It’s no stretch to say that our everyday lives are tightly bound with technology. Chances are every one of the kids in this picture will walk around with an embedded system in their pockets by the time they hit middle school if not earlier (seriously, many of them have the newest generation of high-end smart phones). The sad fact is that nearly 100% will never have any idea how the hardware in those devices functions. And that’s where we think this program really shines.

SparkFun is scheduling 50 stops where $1000 of the cost is subsidized. The team will work with each school/organization to come up with an appropriate workshop for the age of the students and their base knowledge on the topic. Hopefully this will inspire a new generation of hardware hackers who will eventually contribute to using technology to solve world issues. Check out their promo clip after the jump.

We mentioned subsidized visits. The program still costs $1500 and will go up to $2500 after the first 50 stops. But the hardware used in the workshop stays with the kids. And we hope that the $37.50-$125/head price tag will be seen as a worthwhile investment in getting kids interested in more than just entertaining themselves with the social medial offerings running on the hardware.

18 thoughts on “SparkFun Takes Their Educational Show On The Road

  1. I don’t like spark fun as I think they rip people off on a daily basis, but there again those people aren’t smart enough not to pay $5 for something they could get for $0.50 from digikey, so shame on those people too. I think SF does enough of those deals a day to pay for this themselves, But hey, getting kids interested in something, great!

    1. Almost all the component-like stuff on sparkfun are on breakoutboards. They sell stuff packaged in convenient way for people who need that help or just think it’s ok to trade $5 for a bit of convenience (I gladly pay $5 extra for and uc on a small pcb with good pins, regulator etc). I don’t see how that is a ripoff or makes the customers stupid.

      Sparkfun put’s a lot of work in pushing hobby electronics to new people. People might start there before finding things like seed studio or buying ic’s from digi-key.

      1. I’m with you. Their prices are on par with similar quality gear.
        They do seem to target beginners, which is great. I’m getting into electronics through an Arduino and a Sparkfun Inventor’s Kit. Breakout boards and shields make learning about electronics a whole lot more fun. Being able to plug, code, and play takes the frustration out of playing around with new things. Anything that helps more people get into something that uses their brain is a good thing.

    2. Like Markus said, if what you’re looking for is the basic components, to populate your already customized board… and turn that into smallish to medium scale production, then SparkFun is not the right choice of supplier… If on the other hand, you are prototyping and in the conceptual phase of a project, and want to see if this triple axis gyro will log data fast enough for your current application, before you go and order them in bulk, and design the PCB to fit its unique footprint, then SparkFun is a perfect resource… they have it already thrown onto a breakout board… all you need to do is plug it and chug away…

      This argument is like saying that Arduino is a bad development platform, because it is too expensive to put one into every new project you build. Prototype on a development platform BEFORE you start the production build.

      I recently made a rather simple project… flashing 5x RGB LED’s in a random Red / White / Blue combination, with 2 also adding a Yellow flash… the final application was for use in my sons’ pinewood derby cars… one Police Car, one Firetruck…

      The final build was an ATMEGA328P (what I had on hand) and a TLC5940NT, pushing 5x SMD RGB LEDs… the other components included a 5v regulator, Current limiting resistor for the TI chip, and a 9v battery, with clip.

      The first pass, where I proved out the concept to myself, and validated the coding was correct… I did that with an Arduino, connected to a breadboard… Development platform is not the same as the final build.

      I will grant that most people stop their builds in the development / quazi production hybrid space, but that doesn’t mean that people who cater to rapid development are doing a bad thing.

  2. Note to self: Wait until after probationary period of hiring to move in multiple pinball machines, video multiple side projects and internal, possibly nda projects, all done on equipment bought for the in house project with the company’s money ;)

    Perhaps a little too much Chris Knight and not enough Lazlo and never ever enough Kent.

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