When the pandemic hit I was really unsure how my classes were going to proceed. How was I going to take something as interactive as STEM challenges and move them to an online setting? After about seven months of trial and error I have finally reached a where teaching electronics is possible.
Teaching electronics for beginners is a very fun way to make STEM challenges advance, interactive and creative.
There are so many reasons why STEM challenges should incorporate electronics for beginners. When teaching electronics for kids children get to learn how all their devices work from the inside out. Teaching electronics for beginners turns students into creators over consumers. During the month of February and March I was able to incorporate electronics into our STEM challenges.
The learning curve in the beginning was tricky. It was a very new way of learning, there was a lot of vocabulary to learn, there was only a short amount of time. Things did not also work and sometimes it was tricky for those little hands to get a hang of how to manipulate the materials.
But now, after three weeks into the electronics for beginners STEM challenge unit, we are moving and grooving.
I used a low cost kit based here in India, Kit 4 Curious. The kit is great for teaching electronics to kids because it has everything needed to do simple activities. The best part about the kit is it does not require much soldering. Many of the tutorials they have posted require a hot glue gun. I tried to keep the STEM activities and STEM challenges simply enough to require minimal material and still be open ended.
Part One of Electronics for Beginners: Basics
The first part of the unit is quite simple and my students had actually done something similar to this in December. During this week the students were only required to light up an LED light or make a motor move. They did not have to attach the wires to the terminals, just place them there and see what happens.
We had made squishy circuits in the past so most of my students had a good understanding of what to expect.
There were some new vocabulary words I had to introduce during this electronics for beginners unit and that was terminals and circuits. One way I introduced the word terminal was to think of it as an airport where things move in and out. That is where electricity moves in and out. And for the word circuit, I asked students to identify the prefix of the word, cir. So they were able to understand that a circle needed to be created for electricity to flow properly.
Part Two of Electronics for Beginners: Switches
This week was a little tricky, because I had to teach students how to cut and strip wires. They also had to learn how to attach wires to the terminal on the switches with alligator clips.
There was a lot of encouragement to show grit, not quit and keep trying. There were also conversations that I had with parents to ensure all of us were in the right mindset as we moved through the lesson. Sometimes when teaching electronics for beginners things don’t work, things might not go as planned and emotions run high (especially online).
This week was definitely one where we learned about how the process was equally as important as the product. An encouraging part of teaching electronics for beginners online was that families had the whole week to finish, but I also allowed them to contact me at any time with questions.
Part Three of Electronics for Beginners: Fruit Batteries
This was a fun stem challenge where students had to create a battery using citrus fruits. The best ones that we found that worked were lemons and potatoes.
Part Four of Electronics for Beginners: Art
After having gone through the first three weeks students now had a decent idea of what to expect. Their confidence was starting to really build and they had a good understanding of the new routines. This week was the best week! Not only because they had a little bit of self-efficacy but the project was open-ended. Students had to create a work of art and add electricity to it somehow.
Some examples were fireflies, lighthouses, Sea Gods, houses, and buildings! It was a great way to end part one of the electronics for beginners unit.