Decades ago, electronics seemed like a subject that only brainiacs cared about. Who else could comprehend what those micro-computer chips do? Yet in the digital era, understanding electronics is as vital as figuring out how your car works. Sooner or later, that information will be useful — and these days, most machines (including car engines) have a load of electronics on them.
How an LED Works
Since many of the projects below utilize LEDs (light emmiting diodes), why not start by explaining how an LED works? You can find these tiny lights in Christmas lights, car dashboards, and newer lightbulbs. They usually require less power to run than other lights, which makes them ideal for hobbyist projects. This fact may also be good to explain to your kids if you decide to replace your incandescent lights and fluorescent bulbs with LED tubes.
Electronic Dice Project
This electronic dice project uses a breadboard as its base. These simple circuit platforms allow you to temporarily connect components together without solder and were originally developed to test electronics. These days they're also used for making simple projects. In addition to a handful of LED lights, the dice project also requires a 555 timer, a 4017 decade counter and a few other parts to build. The above video by Break Into Program explains the logic of a breadboard as well as how to build the dice project. Keep in mind, you’ll also need some tweezers and patience.
Remote Controlled Robot
What kid wouldn’t want a programmable, remote controlled robot? Michael from “Volt, Paper, Scissors” explains how to make a cardboard robot that can solar powered. The project comes in a couple of parts, and it’s possible to make simple and programmable versions. Templates for the robot’s body can be downloaded as PDFs and printed. A couple of solar motors will need to be purchased for the wheels. Michael does a nice job of explaining how everything works in simple language.
Arduino Board Memory Game
Students who want to continue programming and making more electronic projects may want to invest in an Arduino board, which can be used to make a lot of open source electronic projects. Individually, the boards cost about $20, but it’s also possible, for $50, to purchase Arduino kits that come with parts you may need for numerous projects.