I’ve been exposing my son Malachi to electronics and building things since he was born, and figured it was time to teach him how to solder. I purchased an electronic kit from a local electronics retailer, Fry’s Electronics. They sell more electronic components than Radio Shack. The kit that was selected was the Traffic Light kit… because I thought it was interesting, not annoying, and could be used with my son’s growing Matchbox/Hotwheels car collection.
Malachi is only 5 years old, and he’s already soldering very well! I let him make various mistakes so that when I told him how to fix them, he understood why he was doing it. The Weller soldering iron is a little big for him to handle, but that didn’t stop him from completing this project in a short period of time. He knows a lot of names of components already and hopefully the things I taught him on this project will retain in his brain for next time. He located and inserted all of the components, with very little help from me. I taught him about polarity, and despite capacitors being labeled as (-) on the cap, and (+) on the PCB he did not get confused. He soldered everything! (except for 3 LEDs). I wanted him to be able to say he built the entire thing. The next kit we build will have to be a double sided board, so we don’t have the issues we were having with this one. I had to take over cutting the leads and ended up damaging some pads myself because of how bad the PCB was. I guess don’t buy kits from Fry’s Electronics… unless you can live with having to fix problems that pop up.
I guess by now you figured out what my greatest hack to date is 😉