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Beginning Electronics For Child With Use of One Arm
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Beginning Electronics For Child With Use of One Arm

by bcochran1 on Mon May 31, 2021 12:39 pm

Hi!

I am not a formally trained educator, but I am in a teaching role.

I am working with a 6 year old child who has the use of just one arm. It is extremely difficult for her to use the affected arm for anything we regard as normal hand and arm motions. The child is pretty smart in my opinion. Her parents say she seems good at math. I myself am deaf -- that is, I cannot hear -- so to communicate with the child I need a parent or a hearing helper with me.

I tried to show the child how to blink an LED using a Trinket M0 and Microsoft MakeCode on https://maker.makecode.com/. I set up the Trinket and the LED circuit on a breadboard for her because I can see it will be difficult for her to do the setup with the use of only one arm. The child's father joined us for the lesson and felt that this introduction was too hard for her to understand. One issue is we were using only a MacBook Air to access the MakeCode website, it was not connected to an external monitor, and I think that made it harder for all of us to see the web page and the MakeCode simulator.

Is there a simpler way to introduce electronics to this child? Do you have teaching approaches and/or products that are usable by someone who can use only one hand?

Thanks so much

Bob



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Re: Beginning Electronics For Child With Use of One Arm

by dastels on Mon May 31, 2021 1:33 pm

Electronics in general? Skip the microcontrollers and programming and focus on the basic electronics. The 555 is a great entry point. It's simple but versatile. There are tons of light and/or sound projects. Since it's been around for decades (it was well established in the late 70s when I started dabbling with electronics) there are many books available. Have a look at my article in issue 19 of HackSpace Magazine as well as https://learn.adafruit.com/getting-to-know-the-555. Forrest M. Mims III's "Engineer's Notebook:555 Circuits" (c) 1984 has some interesting projects and you can find it online pretty easily.

I would think that having the breadboard (for example) secured so that it won't move would be the first consideration.

Dave

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Re: Beginning Electronics For Child With Use of One Arm

by bcochran1 on Mon May 31, 2021 2:17 pm

Hi Dave,

Thank you for the suggestion! I think this is excellent. I may have a box of 555s, but if not, I can either order the "Three Fives" kit shown in your tutorial, or buy some of the ICs from Mouser.

You are right...securing a breadboard will be a help...it won't be the answer, but it should help.

Thanks so much

Bob

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Re: Beginning Electronics For Child With Use of One Arm

by dastels on Mon May 31, 2021 3:07 pm

The 3-5s kit is cool in that it's all simple discrete components that are exactly what's inside the IC. So when you talk about how a circuit works you can trace signals on the 3-5s. It makes it a little more relatable than just looking at a schematic.

Is 6 too old for the 555 plushie? :)

Dave

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Re: Beginning Electronics For Child With Use of One Arm

by tkinsman on Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:06 am

I am an educator, an a trained child entertainer. Six year's old is a wonderful age. It is the age that many kids decide what they want to do later on.

At age six, I would focus on learning about electricity -- that electrons flow, what batteries are, and so on. Then I would have switches that control lights. I used to use the old "knife switches" because children could explicitly see the connections being made. These can be used to teach the idea of series and parallel circuits.

I agree that the 555 timer is a lot of fun. You can rig up a variable resistor, and have the child change the resistor to get different light effects, or different sound effects.

Best of luck, and The world thanks you for helping a child get interested in STEAM.

-Dr. Kinsman

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