November 13, 2013 at 9:40 pm #20286dddaaannnParticipantGreetings Evil Mad Scientists, everyone –Do you have experience using Meggy Jr in a elementary school classroom setting? I’m curious to know how you’d advise on two separate subjects: soldering and programming.I recently had an experience with my daughter’s 4th grade (age 10) class where I talked a bit about my novice electronics hobby. I included a brief demo of the Meggy Jr, though the bulk of the session was about electrical charge, circuits, and LEDs, including a simple solder-free project. The Meggy Jr made a large impression on the kids even though they only saw me hold it up for 60 seconds.Based on my experience with this class (28 kids, age 10), I would guess than only about half of them are ready for soldering. My own 10-year-old managed soldering with individual instruction at home easily, though we used a much smaller kit than Meggy Jr. Does anyone have advice for (or against :) ) soldering with kids in a classroom setting? What would you recommend for a minimum age, parent-student ratio, and time allotment for having students assemble a kit with soldering? Meggy Jr might be an ambitious kit without individual instruction and/or a lot of time, but I wonder if I’m underestimating.Another option would be to assemble a bunch of Meggy Jrs ahead of time, and focus on programming. Here I think the minimum age would be much younger, and it’s easier to imagine a lesson plan at this level. Do you have any advice on microprocessor/Meggy Jr programming in an elementary classroom setting? I’m familiar with the usual suspects for teaching programming to young kids (and it’s great that we now have usual suspects for that sort of thing), but I’ve never taught Arduino to an elementary class, so I’m curious to hear about others’ experiences.If I actually do something like this, it’s more likely to take the form of an after-school club, with several hours a week and a limited number of motivated students. In that context, helping a dozen kids assemble and program a dozen kits over 10 three-hour session seems entirely doable.Thanks for any advice you might have!— DanNovember 19, 2013 at 11:40 am #21557UgiParticipant
I have been doing some small soldering projects with my daughter and her friends for a few years now. They are now 8-9 yrs old and did their first soldering project around 2 years ago (we do other non-electronics projects too so they have probably done 3 one-day solder projects in that time).
I would say that at their current age and experience they are now mostly capable of soldering components to a board safely and reliably, although we always have a recap on safety and technique each time. However, even with a reasonable iron, they take a lot longer than an moderately experienced adult would. They don’t yet have the instinct for which direction to approach each joint or how short to clip a lead. They get the solder wire stuck to the work and then panic, etc. I would not want to monitor more than two irons per adult at age 10. So far I have always done one-to-one. Meggy is also a bit unforgiving because none of the chips are socketed so you need to be careful not to bake them and if one goes in backwards it’ll be a real pain.
If you do a club, I would think you will want no less than two, preferably at least 3 adults: One helping them position a few components at a time, one monitoring a small number of solder stations and preferably one helping clip leads & check. If you have 12 kids and 2 irons, I would suggest you will require at least as long as it would take you to assemble all 12 kits sequentially.
If it was me, I think I would take a middle-way. You could pre-solder certain components, such as the ICs, to the boards, for example, and leave the kids to do the discrete components. That way you cut out a load of joints and the risk of frying the chips while still giving them the satisfaction of learning to solder and hopefully leaving some time to investigate programing their creations.
I’d be interested to know how it works out.
UgiNovember 28, 2013 at 2:47 pm #21558dddaaannnParticipant
Good advice, thanks Ugi!— Dan
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