What's your opinion on spending $50 on your kids education?

I’m trying to create something for a possible teaching proposal with Arduino. Here is what I came up with: any suggestions and comments? Thank you!

50_bucks.GIF

How is buying 5 large pizzas going to lead to any positive educational benefit? I think it will just lead to larger stomachs and life-long struggles with weight.

I don't buy the music argument being negative. Music appreciation is a positive thing.

For the video games, Kits-->Kids, spent-->spend. The "nothing relevant to the real world" is a bit overblown. Some recent studies have shown that they do learn something (problem solving, co-operation/socialization in multiplayer modes, as depressing as that is, etc.)

Arduino: spent-->spend.

Parents are REALLY sensitive to what their kids' teachers publish. I'd vet this through a couple more teachers before putting it out there.

-- The Gadget Shield: accelerometer, RGB LED, IR transmit/receive, speaker, microphone, light sensor, potentiometer, pushbuttons

Re: this thread's title

If I had any kids (thank $DEITY I don't), I would say $50.00 is a small sum, and if it could be spent extremely wisely, it could lead to a lifetime of dividends.

My own parents spent a ton of money on my education - for me, it was STEM stuff all the time (though the acronym didn't exist at the time, I don't think). It started with Lego, Tinkertoys, and other building kits. It progressed to programmable toys (such as my Milton Bradley Big Trak - I still have that one!), then morphed over time to my interest in computers and electronics (TRS-80 Color Computer and 150-in-1 Electronics Kit - yeah, my parents shopped a lot at Radio Shack).

Now I'm here - on these and other forums, and my career has been in software development.

Since my parents have passed away, I managed to find many of the receipts for my computer and peripherals of my youth (all of which I still own, all of which still work OK) - I am floored as to how much they spent (considering inflation and what my dad made as a county construction worker); I am both humbled and eternally indebted to them for their efforts (I made sure they were aware of this once I was old enough to really understand).

So - $50.00? For any real parent worthy of the title, the real question should be "Why so little?". Applying to investment in Arduino components? So long as the child has the interest, I can't think of much else it could be better spent on (besides books and other things to go along with the STEM theme, of course)...

:)

I just wonder where this educational impact column is coming from? Your opinion? ENquette?

5 pizza's can be very educative to learn about multiplication, fractions, circles, PI, vegetables, nutrician values, cooking, heat flow through different materials, evaporation, burning, chemical transformations, geography (where does the artichokes come from), taste combinations, Italy, Roman Empire, immigration (how Pizza's got over the world, no the Romans did not, or did they?), cultural differences, etc and there are people who will use an Arduino to create bad things (I will not provide examples of this ;)

I think your list is subjective at best and shows (partly) what people/parents what to hear. Saying that tech is positive on an tech forum is like asking a grizzly if it likes salmon, you know it does. If you want a realistic list, ask 500+ parents and ask the rationale! Better ask 500+ kids: Why do you think Pizza's are educative - "peperoni keeps me awake in class, Sir!" ;)

Formost I think the real question (culture dependant!!) is: , what makes the kid enthousiast?, is it sport, tech, cooking, ... Money spend on something they are not interested in is a waste. That said sometimes you must "confront" a kid with new things to broaden their horizon, just to try, but mostly they know what they want.

And yes, I agree with Rugged Circuits, parents are sensitive to what their kids' teachers publish.

Hopes this helps,

I very much agree that an arduino + sensors is a very good investment for... the right kid.

I don't agree with the educational impacts given though.

Without some... technical talent or real interest, Arduino would for example unfortunately be the first one to disappear of my list.

Educational impact of eating a pizza ? When following a study as cook perhaps ;) ?

With 160+ beats per minute and 100 dB listening to music will indeed have the effects you mention, but listening to music by itself can have lots of positive effects as well. For a lot of kids it gives them something that binds them which is a quite important piece of social education.

Describing it as almost certainly negative is a quite harsh in my opinion.

Would you have bought a $10 Ebay Mp3-player and added a second hand musical instrument, I'd have a very hard time choosing, even when my kid would have technical talents. My parents must have suffered enormously, but man... am I grateful for all the music lessons I got. I may not earn money with it, but playing a 2 hour session often feels like a vacation of 3 weeks.

The video games... which quite often are multi-player RPGs nowadays, may seem worthless to many, but it has more or less the same effect as the MP3-player. Although you may never have met a fellowplayer in real time, when he's in your team and you shoot him, the others in the team will certainly tell/teach you such behaviour is inacceptable. Working hard together to reach a goal, although it may be "killing the enemy", also teaches something important. Hearing "It's a pity we lost this time, but at least we all did our best" could.... be possible when you buy something "very negative".

Books, I'd change that one from several months to... a lifetime, indeed depending on content. Every kid should have access to a good library and get loads of books.

The arduino... It would totally depend on the kid. If they're technically interested, spend the $50 and keep saving for all those 50s in the future. Buy that ARM-board as soon as you think your kid's ready.

Having blown up 3 microcontrollers while still having lots of problems with the fade-example, will not contribute to self esteem though. In the same way I can hardly kick a ball while soccer is nr. 1 Game in Europe. I'm glad I had a dad who really loved soccer, but realised I... was much better in Judo.

My story with kids...

Unfortunately my wife and I have no kids, but I have been in a quite unique position for 8 wonderful years. As Janitor on a school for kids aged 4-12, I was no parent who told 'm what to do nor... the teacher they had to listen to.

We had fun day in day out and it was quite easy to walk among them on the same level.

Although you won't see me playing a RPG soon nor appreciate some eh... music, I had a hard time not being interested in the kids behind the things they were interested in. Since the kids knew... I was always in for joke and they didn't need to listen to me I've heard almost anything and was able to give loads of free advice.

Ofcourse I've seen "fights" over an RPG-game every now and then. Some of the kids were also quite hard to motivate. But on the school yard I've also seen opposing teams complimenting each other for "the most bloodiest kill ever" and hope I had some influence.

I'm sorry to say so, but it's too simplistic in my honest opinion.

Thanks a lot guys! I just put this thing together to see if it would work, so it would not. I should try something else. I strongly agree with Rob about the salmon (yummy to me, wife is cooking it now). Lots of kids get what THEY want, in school they teach the teachers what they should teach.

I will definitely remove pizza :) Maybe remove the whole thing :P

On the other hand, I was mostly blaming mobile music platforms like ipod, not a stationary stereo, which I really like to have if I had space. Good music itself is always good when properly enjoyed. A mobile music platform only distracts the user and damage their hearings.

John, I know you teach adults, and we are talking about how kids are different.

I happen to be in Bangkok at an Education Conference now so we are thinking about these issues!

The biggest effect on kids Education is the adults they encounter, parents and teachers and other mentors.

As great as I think Arduino is, I do not think the Educational material is there yet to just hand it to a kid and expect good stuff to happen.

I have lots of kids and lots more Grandchildren.. and I've tried lots of things... I have used Lego Mindstorms with kids and even with that well-researched educational system, kids often floundered around if left on their own..

The biggest factor is the adults kids interact with. Parents, Teachers, other mentors are the ones that involve kids with their own learning. So I am considering how to put together an Arduino offering for Parents, leading to learning by them AND their kids. I don't know how that will work, yet, but I've tried many things over 50+ years, and taught kids from 2nd grade to High School, and at University and IBM. And I don't know much, except that personal involvement by the students and they way they construct their own learning is what matters.

My kids learned a lot about electric circuits and switching with a few old IBM control panels that had a lot of switches and lights on them, a couple of batteries, and about 100 clip leads from Radio Shack. They built a Lunar Lander next to the furnace in the basement. 5 years later they were etching circuit boards in the kitchen. Today they are building systems with 3 Atmels in them, 10GHz chip receivers, doing BioChemistry at Yale, etc. I hope the difference was not knowledge per se, but a disposition to take things apart and put them together..

So, I wish I knew just how to help Parents and Kids do hands-on stuff together. I almost think that Parents should just start doing table top Arduino after Dinner, showing the kids what it's all about, asking kids what could be done with it, having them help.. and later 'allowing' them to do their own things. But never telling them they have "bought an Educational thing for you"

Let them find the receipts 20+ years later!!

Terry,

Thank you for the wonderful input. I'll be working on making materials to teach high school teachers. Hope someone will give us money to do it. I have some students that are going for practice teaching soon. Hope to make a connection to local schools. These days are very different from the old days, where teachers made their own teaching equipment and demonstrations. Now you go and buy off a catalog and don't get to know what's inside those neat little boxes, plus kids get some many neat little tech toys and they don't feel excited seeing some tech stuff as they were (maybe just me myself). I think Arduino will change the game. If a teacher shows how to use an accelerometer to measure acceleration of an amusement ride, he/she may bring kids interest back to STEM.

To think about how STEM has been treated in the US, I used the current status of STEM in the US to explain how transistor conducts, kind of sad. I want to change it, although I'm just a foreigner in the country.

http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/topic,56924.msg410057.html#msg410057

John, Let's continue some conversation about teaching Teachers and Parents how to enable young people to encounter Arduino, STEM and technology in general in a positive way. Any other opinions, anyone??

What country are you originally from? Many of us are from "All Over" in this era and that's a good thing.

I have friends from "all Over" so there is no part of the World where I can see bad things happening and say "I don't care"!

A mobile music platform only distracts the user and damage their hearings.

On the whole I have to agree but I think when students get to the age where they might want to be motivated by arduino, I would suggest that there are many who would understand the benefits of music. I personally listen to music quite a lot (obviously not at the volume level many kids listen to it at) but it can really make a difference in how you feel/how productive you are. So music in moderation (whether a portable device or not) can have major benefits.

On another note, I saw an elderly lady on a bus I was travelling on the other day listening to an ipod. You could tell she was happy listening to whatever it was and it was improving her mood. Travelling around on buses by yourself doesn't normally do good things to people's moods.

One other thing I thought of... Who's going to help the absolute beginner ?

One can of course ask questions on this forum, I must say support in general is great, but answers can sometimes also be a little intimidating...

I would change some of the items, and the prices are a bit off. 1 new video game = $60 1 month of cable TV = $50

mp3 players aren't positive or negative, everybody listens to music on the car radio I would also leave books out in order to make a stronger argument.

If I were writing a letter to parents I would explain all about how amazing microcontrollers are and what can be done with them. Then explain how cheap these are compared to 10 years ago, and make the price comparisons at the end.

John, Let's continue some conversation about teaching Teachers and Parents how to enable young people to encounter Arduino, STEM and technology in general in a positive way. Any other opinions, anyone??

Hi Terry,

I too am interested in this subject. I come from Singapore, and there isn't much of a culture of tinkering here. So while there are trained engineers etc who are comfortable with handling circuit boards etc, most people are quite intimidated by exposed electronics parts. I don't know if this is the same in other parts of the world ?

My impression is that this intimidation factor is the single biggest obstacle to learning electronics. My first encounter with electronics was with circuit diagrams and current and resistor value calculations. This can be daunting to all but the most determined student. For me, I found it so dry and simply just could not go on and left it for about a decade. It was only when I discovered the wonderful world of Arduino 4 months ago that I really got my hands dirty. And this comes to a person who I think is reasonably technically inclined (I am an architect. No, not the software kind, the bricks and mortar kind).

I got into Arduino because I wanted to build my own home automation system. Now that I have gotten the backbone of my HA system running, I have come to think that it would be an excellent educational tool. This is because simple functions can easily be broken down and demonstrated.

My thoughts is that to remove the intimidation factor, a lesson plan can move from the outside in; meaning the teacher can demonstrate the function (eg. using relay to switch off light), then peel back the skin and reveal the electronics working (eg. remove the relay and show the circuit doesnt work anymore). Later tweaking the programming can be demonstrated, and students introduced to the programming environment / IDE. Lastly circuit can be rebuilt on a circuit board, and students challenged with some creation of their own.

What do you ( and any other reader ) think ?

Keff in Sg

Simpson_Jr: One other thing I thought of... Who's going to help the absolute beginner ?

One can of course ask questions on this forum, I must say support in general is great, but answers can sometimes also be a little intimidating...

This is exactly what I am trying to figure out! Some attempts at http://yourduino.com

But that's an online environment, and even though young people are comfortable there it doesn't work for everyone.

One new fantasy of mine is a publication for Parents or Mentors or Teachers which shows how to start DOing things with Arduino, and encouraging young people to get involved. "Hey, look at what this does! How do you think this works? How could you make it do something different? "

Later let the kid take over 'your Arduino'... :)

John, I'm glad you started this discussion!

mowcius:

A mobile music platform only distracts the user and damage their hearings.

On the whole I have to agree but I think when students get to the age where they might want to be motivated by arduino, I would suggest that there are many who would understand the benefits of music. I personally listen to music quite a lot (obviously not at the volume level many kids listen to it at) but it can really make a difference in how you feel/how productive you are. So music in moderation (whether a portable device or not) can have major benefits.

On another note, I saw an elderly lady on a bus I was travelling on the other day listening to an ipod. You could tell she was happy listening to whatever it was and it was improving her mood. Travelling around on buses by yourself doesn’t normally do good things to people’s moods.

Thanks mowcius! That’s good point. I agree. Just last Friday I used an old MP3 player, an npn transistor, and a few spare parts, made an old-school boom-box (not very boom-ie no box either). Just in time for my Electronics class lab on npn common-emitter circuit.

I think if I say arduino + mp3 or arduino + game device (maybe wii controller) = much more awesome maybe someone will buy my argument.

Simpson_Jr:
One other thing I thought of… Who’s going to help the absolute beginner ?

One can of course ask questions on this forum, I must say support in general is great,
but answers can sometimes also be a little intimidating…

Yes yes. But imagine asking a stranger questions and expect getting help. I still prefer asking here :slight_smile:
I’m trying to train teachers (high school) so they themselves are not absolute beginners but their students ARE! I’m training the teachers since I’m not certified to train kids, nor do I have the skills! Kudos to high school teachers! It’s difficult job and doesn’t pay much. I’m hoping with arduino they can do their jobs better, and kids enjoy more.

[quote author=Big Oil link=topic=57273.msg412228#msg412228 date=1301770276] I would change some of the items, and the prices are a bit off. 1 new video game = $60 1 month of cable TV = $50

mp3 players aren't positive or negative, everybody listens to music on the car radio I would also leave books out in order to make a stronger argument.

If I were writing a letter to parents I would explain all about how amazing microcontrollers are and what can be done with them. Then explain how cheap these are compared to 10 years ago, and make the price comparisons at the end. [/quote]

Big oil, I like your point of just comparing prices without necessarily pointing fingers. Thank you.

cr0sh,

I bet your parents were very good parents. I also owe mine a lot. My dad was a professor in electron science but he didn't really teach me electronics. We didn't spend much time together because he spent countless time in his lab. The first time I felt interest in electronics was right after I finished a gruesome task of teaching 3xx-level electronics for physics majors. It seems that physicists don't like to either teach or do electronics. When anything gets too practical, it's out the physics door. I owe partly of my employment to saying "oh yes, I am certainly willing to teach electronics" during interview :grin:

Keff, I was intimidated by bare electronics parts as well, also the mentioning of designing PCB, or manufacturing hundreds of them. But all those were history now.

I think what helped me are three things: I have some money to buy parts (wouldn't work if I were half my age), I stumbled into the Arduino world with such a lively and helpful online community, my background in programming. As a physics major like most other physics majors, I only took one class in electronics in my junior year and that was it. Even after I taught the class, I still wasn't very interested in it. Until one time I came up with an idea that will be a teaching equipment. I used all my knowledge and couldn't figure out how to make it work. A very haphazard chance made me meet an artist, artist everyone! He was using arduino and he showed me what he did with arduino. After that I read about arduino and made the purchase. Eventually I made that teaching design work. It's not very good-looking but it's showed me the potential of arduino. I've been a fan since that time (around 2009). With my programming background, all I needed are ideas and time. The rest was just hard labor :)

So looks like many are interested in this topic. We should certainly chat often on this board. I think I've got like 1000% what I was expecting when I started this post XD XD XD Thanks to you all!

I like this idea. I use Arduino in my high school electronics course. I think it's a great way to introduce kids to programming and electronics. For the price it's hard to beat. My favorite part is watching the excitement in the beginning as students discover how to light up and sequence multiple LEDs. I love my job!

You can check my stuff out at http://electronics.flosscience.com

If you're so inclined you can also support my efforts to fund a teacher crated Arduino based high school textbook at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1713741390/arduino-in-education

Steve Dickie Divine Child High School

[quote author=Terry King link=topic=57273.msg411892#msg411892 date=1301722329]So, I wish I knew just how to help Parents and Kids do hands-on stuff together. I almost think that Parents should just start doing table top Arduino after Dinner, showing the kids what it's all about, asking kids what could be done with it, having them help.. and later 'allowing' them to do their own things. But never telling them they have "bought an Educational thing for you"[/quote]

Terry,

if parents start "doing stuff for their kids", not a lot good will come from it. Kids aren't stupid. Parents need to things for themselves and only then let the kids participate. That's the case with music, with sports, with cooking, with video games, with fashion and clothing, and also all other kind of tinkering from sewing, jewel crafting to electronics and computers. So to get children involved, get the parents involved first.

In the end, being able to deliver useful results even for beginners (adults) matters most. And to deliver useful results there needs to be a problem to be solved. Remember the classic entry into electronics? Build your own AM radio receiver or your own Tesla coils for sparks - something useful. Or why else are some many people coming from other occupations like model vehicles, car tinkering, electronic music, robotics, home gadgetry to the Arduino and so little people start out with the Arduino directly?

If you want to bring people to the Arduino, look for people with occupations who could use them, show them how it can work for their hobby. That will get them hooked. And once you have them with the Arduino, they can then be goaded in the direction of programming or electronics. Don't start them directly on programming or electronics, those are rather forbidding domains where so many things can go wrong and simple looking problems become very complicated and frustrating fast.

Korman