Homemade Kids Electronic Lab

Clip leadsToday with the help of my four year old son Kai, we built a little experimenter’s board because he has been wanting to “learn about ‘lectricty” for a while now.

First I found an old piece of MDF from my shed and cut off a bit about 10″ by 6″. Then I bought some screw eyes from the hardware shop. I already had this bunch of colourful clip leads.

Drilling the pilot holesTo build it, we drilled some 1mm pilot holes and then screwed in the eyelets with a small washer under each one. Kai loved having a go of a power tool even if it was only a little battery-powered Dremel. The wire from each part gets clamped under the washer as the screw eye is tightened. I used some pliers to screw the eyes in nice and hard so the wire will stay clamped.

Closeup of mounted screw eyes

Small child and power toolI have soldered a current limiting resistor in series with each part. I used 100Ω for each of the LEDs and a 15Ω ½ watt resistor for the motor. These values were arrived at by guesswork, experimentation and whatever I could find in my parts box using the time-honoured principle of “Whatever works man”. I used a little hot-glue to hold the parts in place.

I attached the battery holder to the board with some velcro so it can be easily lifted up to change the batteries.

The finished boardAnd here’s the finished product. I still do not have any kind of over-current protection for the batteries. I guess it won’t be long before the child tries to connect the battery terminals together and kills them. I’ll see what I can come up with in the future but for now we are having too much fun to bother about it.

I spent about $2 all up to buy a packet of screw eyes. Everything else came out of my junk box. That is my driving philsophy here. Just use what I’ve got, otherwise, I may as well have spent $50 on a store-bought electronics kit.

and Kai likes itThe board contains 4xAA batteries, 2 LEDs, a momentary push button and a DC motor. Kai can make up circuits by clipping the clip leads onto the eyelets. I have left some room on the board so we can add other bits on in the future. Its simple and fun enough for a four year old.

Related posts

Kid Type

UPDATE – Adding current protection

19 thoughts on “Homemade Kids Electronic Lab

  1. Very cool! My son’s name is also Kai, and he’s just about to turn 5. He totally loves working with electronics. Most of the time he’s just walking around with some kind of battery and a toy motor, making it go. He also figured out on his own that spinning the motor can make an LED light up! I plan on building one of these soon, I know he’ll love it.

    Thanks for posting such a great article!


  2. My Daughter is really interested with this things, any good ideas that i can give her for
    her b-day?

  3. I’m not sure how old your daughter is or what her skill level is with building things so I’m not sure I can really suggest much Alex.

    Kai and I just built this thing from junk we found about the place. Just use your imagination and find something that is fun.

  4. “Found this post quite useful – keep up the good work.

    If you’re willing to share, what is the theme are you using on this site? I want to know the name of it.”

  5. It’s just a theme I made myself. I suppose I could zip it up and post it somewhere. I did it ages ago for WordPress 2.0. I’m lucky it still works with 2.7, it probably won’t support all the latest WordPress features.

  6. Congratulations. Thats really being very innovative. This way you yourself can learn a lot many things, at the same time you can make your son learn too.

  7. That is really very cute. I am too sure that with this he will be able to learn not just lectricity but a lot of other constructive things.

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