Prototyping Platform

Sorry if there is a better forum for this...

I am looking for a prototyping platform for the Arduino that my grandson of 11 can use. Something simple with lots of LEDs, switches and other items he can simply hook up to the Arduino inputs/Outputs. I want him to start learning programming and the fundamentals of hardware and not have to get to wrapped around a lot of breadboard of the things he can use.

Anyone know of such a thing? I've googled but don't find much other than prototyping shields that still require adding LEDs, switches etc.

Any help is appreciated!

Maybe this-

Thanks, Will take a loot. I was thinking something more like this:

I just found that, but it's quite pricey.

This is what Adafruit has : Kits & Projects Products Category on Adafruit Industries
Have a look at the budget pack. If he gets bored with that, you buy a few more things that he is interested in.
Also click on the “Project packs”, there are fun projects with leds.

The Grove shield should make it easier to connect sensors and software is often availabe for the Grove things. However, I think that a basic Arduino board with a breadboard is easier to understand. Start simple with a few basic things.
The Arduino Uno is still a good board to start with, and using a breadboard is not so bad.

Let's not forget the Arduino Esplora. It's been discontinued, but it's still supported in the IDE. You can find genuine Esploras and clones on ebay.

Hi, Take a look at the how-to stuff HERE: and see if the kinds of things you can do there makes sense for your Grandson. This kit is used by thousands of kids in high school and university. If he has you to help put things in perspective I think he'd do fine.

You can avoid breadboards with "Electronic Bricks", but if he's going to end up engaged in his own learning over time, then the "Actual Wires" are important.

DISCLAIMER: Mentioned stuff from my own shop... !

toy4x4: Thanks, Will take a loot. I was thinking something more like this:

I just found that, but it's quite pricey.

The money is a small price compared to any kid learning that 'special' equipment is required. Don't let the learning end once the flash is achieved, don't let flash become the goal instead of a byproduct.

Make sure that the kid learns basic DC electricity and basic logic, starting at age 11 that kit should be good for YEARS of now and then exploration. See if you can find nice big posters with Ohm's Law and Kirchoff's Laws just to help it sink in.

IMO Arduino's are great little instruments for learning about electricity and physics. Yes, physics, you can sense and time physical events with Arduino in ways that make my inner child jealous as hell -- my gen kids didn't have anything like it, we played with sticks and rocks by comparison.

PS, just a note. I grew up with a little mom-protected destroyer. Such a kit won't last years around one of those. It might not last for weeks. My neighbors g-daughter has a cousin to ruin her things and some kids have "friends" to do it. IF that applies and the kid sees you often then maybe keep the kit at your place and make time during visits. Otherwise emotional and family issues get dragged in and attached then see how the learning goes with baggage added.

Basic starter kits here.

ELENCO has some electronic kits






Honestly I think you are seriously underestimating the complexity of what you are talking about. We've seen posts that went past 100 replies about a simple question about leds and resistors. We'vd seen every kind of mistake you can imagine and some you can't and none of them were under 18 years old ( based on linguistic assessment of their english grammer.) Throwing an 11 year old into an environment where even the simplest circuit can be confounding is unrealistic. What's going to happen is some adult is going to have to take up the slack because 11 year olds are more likely to give up at the first failure. I think you should stick with " smart toys" category. The fact that you want him to learn programming is probably not relavant ( from his perspective). I've heard of electronic modular toys that contain working circuits in smart toy format that allow a child to build circuits without handling compnents. That would be more realistic. There may be some online simulator to teach programming. We have seen a couple of 12 year olds posting but it's rare. Logisticly,,I just don't see an 11 year old reading datasheets and many of our of our posts are from people having problems because they refuse to read datasheets. If you already tried to introduce him to this world and it didn't work then he might not be interested. If he asked you to introduce him to it then maybe you have chance. If he's 11 and still doesn't know electronics exist (assuming he has internet access) then it may be an uphill battle. The only hope you have is if somehow he sees this stuff as "fun". If not, your dead in the water. He has no obligation to do anything electronic so if he doesn't see the "fun" in it that we "old guys" do, it's not going to happen

"You can lead a horse to water etc. etc. etc."

Friends of mine had electronics kits with snap-together modules. We used some at school that were somewhat-black boxes with limited connections.

I never had expensive toys like that. I had to buy resistors and LEDs individually at the electronics store.

The modular modules were good at doing whatever the original designer imagined. They also limited the things that could go wrong in the classroom, so it was controllable for the teacher. But they can’t do anything else. An Arduino and a breadboard can do anything your 11 year old can imagine.

Yes, all true, but let's not ignore the fact that everything he wants to do will require research. If you think an 11 year old wants to spend his time doing that then I would ask what he is going to tell his friends when they ask him to come out and play. If he is an introverted geek with no friends then I guess that won't be a problem. I had to tell my coworkers at the restaurant where I was a cook that I couldn't go drink beers with them after work for a whole year before I learned enough on my own to get a technician job. I just don't see an 11 year old telling his friends "I can't coms out to play because I have read some datasheets..."

I can't coms out to play because I have read some datasheets..."

unless their name is raschemmel

unless their name is raschemmel

ha, ha, very funny… ;D

I think that with a good mentor working in small steps that a kid old enough to do word problems in math can learn and grow into a tech savvy little PITA.

Hey Grampa, not Arduino but I got a copy of Ralph S. Barnaby's How to Make And Fly Paper Airplanes when I was 12 (year it was published) and learned a lot about glider aerodynamics from it.

Used in paperback, at Amazon is cheap enough to get extras.

These are not dart types. The wing has a straight rib (half the page rolled tight and flattened) across the front, cambered (curved) wings for lift and control surfaces. My favorite is the flying wing, I've made them from Post-It notes to fly indoors.

The author was not just anyone either. He was the kid that worked with the Wright brothers and went on to become a Navy aviation pioneer in his own right. The design is from 1910.

I was 9 when I decided to make electronics my career. Within a year I could read schematics and recognize many types of amplifiers and oscillators, and was building circuits out of books and magazines.

But then, I'm that nerd that reads datasheets for fun. The nerd that was responsible for the Missoula Public Library System instituting a limit on the number of books you could check out at one time, because the librarian didn't believe I could possibly be reading that many books.

Well I was 14 when I read all of Jack London, Robert Heinlien, Isaac Asimov , and Victor Hugo. & Les Miserables bur since I was 50% older I guess it's not a fair comparison .

I was 9 when I decided to make electronics my career.

I was 30 when I discovered electronics. It took me a year to cross-train myself from restaurant cook to electronics technician using Heathkit home study courses and building circuits. It took me 12 years working in electronics before I had an opportunity to go back to school and get a degree at DeVry in Electronics Engineering Technology .

Hey Grampa, not Arduino but I got a copy of Ralph S. Barnaby's How to Make And Fly Paper Airplanes when I was 12 (year it was published) and learned a lot about glider aerodynamics from it.

I still think 11 is a bit young to throw someone into electronics. Not everyone is a Polymorph. It's really up to the kid. All you can do is plant the seed. You can't make it grow. It either grows or doesn't. I still think all the learning toys I linked are more realistic.


IME, school felt slow for about a quarter of my class and that was with the pre-Reagan budgets.

I hear they don't teach a lot of subjects we had and that critical thinking is not encouraged at least in some states.

With a spool of wirewrap wire and a couple of bar magnets you can demonstrate Faraday-Lenz but with an Arduino, a linear Hall sensor, and some ask-for-easy code you can probe the field and see what drives the demonstration down to small decimals.

With an Arduino, wire, caps and a conductive surface you can sense electric fields like your own. That's how capacitive touch buttons work. The question is will you pay $10 or use some wire, 2 caps, a paperclip and a gum wrapper instead? Use alligator clip leads if you don't want to solder or use a breadboard.

Look on eBay for cheap small alligator clips, pennies each for 50+. Want to connect a wire to a resistor? Hold or twist them together and clip them. Done. Use the money you save to get a good meter and maybe a logic probe. :)

The 11 year old might not be ready to code on day one but if the 11 year old wants then the 12 year old may be good at it. He's coming into his peak learning years.

He's either geek material or not. I don't think you can make him one if he isn't.

Does that include the ones who only play videogames?

Does that include the ones who only play videogames?

IMO, no. To be an official "geek" you have to either write software by yourself or build circuits by yourself (with no help from an outside source). Of course if you can do both then you are a first class geek. Students who build robots qualify. and the students writing the software for the robots qualify. I don't think playing video games actually makes you a "geek". My best friend when I was 14 built a working replica of the Marconi wireless in a polished wood box. He also had a genuine FBI fingerprint kit , purchased by the desk sargeant of the local police department with cash he gave the sargeant. He was 14. My other friend won a scholarship to UC Berkeley and a job at Laurence Livermore Labs for his 1st place prize project at the science fair where he did some pioneering work in NMR. He was 14.