Quick and easy science fair projects that teach the concepts of electronics to kids have been around for as long as we can remember, and they’re of great value in education. Here are some ideas for simple projects you can do with kids.
Teach the Basics
Before you start building complex circuits making use of transistors, diodes and even integrated circuits, you’ll want to instill the basic concepts of electronics with the projects you do with your kids. Concepts like conductivity and electromagnetism are core to more complex projects and are an excellent introduction to the world of electronics. With the right grounding, your kids will soon be working in the world of electronics and using Octopart API to design and build their own electronic circuits.
The potato battery is a wonderful demonstration of how batteries work and introduces kids to the concept of electrodes and chemical reactions. The potato battery works very much like any other battery, with this chemical reaction causing electrons to flow from one electrode to the other, which in turn produces power. The potato itself doesn’t actually produce or contribute to the power generation but acts simply as a salt bridge.
For this project you’ll need a potato, two coins, a few zinc-coated or plated nails, some copper wire you can cut into smaller lengths, and an LED. The instructions to actually build the battery are simple and can be accomplished in a matter of minutes.
An Electric Motor
Many fundamentals can be learned whilst making a DIY electric motor, which is why it’s such a great project for kids. The idea that a motor can be created with just a battery and some copper wire can blow the minds of kids and is a fun, hands-on project. It introduces concepts like electromagnetic forces. It’s a bit more complex than the potato battery, so might be suitable for slightly older children. Gather up an AA battery, some copper wire (no insulation), a neodymium magnet and some basic tools like cutters and pliers. A ruler will also help with this project.
The Circuit Game
We’ve all played this game at some point. It involves trying to navigate a twisty wire with a ring of wire without touching the ring to the wire. If you do, a light will come on or a buzzer will sound, and you lose the game. Building this game is fun and easy and teaches the important concept of open and closed circuits. All you need is a length of stiff copper wire that can be bent into shape, a battery and an LED, as well as something to mount your project onto – an old ice cream container works wonders. Kids will have a great time bending the copper wire path into creative shapes!
If you have a kid interested in electronics, or if you’re teaching a class, these ideas for quick, cheap and easy electronics projects you can do with kids will be very helpful in teaching some of the fundamental concepts!