A future with electronics – The best gift you can give your children
Why don’t you get your children a different kind of toy this time around? How about a gift that will keep them interested and occupied for hours. One that you might even enjoy getting involved with yourself alongside your kids. Most important of all, get them a toy that could potentially propel them on a course leading to a lifelong career in electronics and software engineering.
I was given such a toy when I was eight years old, it was an Electronic Engineering Construction Kit. I loved playing with that kit so much that I started to spend my pocket money on components so that I could build bigger, better and increasingly more complicated projects. I developed a passion for building stuff that has followed me through my entire career.
Fifty years later I can look back on a successful and fulfilling career as an electronics and software engineer. I have loved every moment of it and there is a good chance that your children could pick up the bug as I did.
Elenco make a range of educational electronics construction kits. Some of the best ones are listed in this article Electronic Engineering Construction Kits For Kids And Parents
The thrill of your first working electronics project build
I can still remember the excitement that I felt when I wired up my first crystal radio set and heard it burst into life in my ear. This was quickly followed by a circuit called an astable multivibrator. It’s a simple circuit that’s ideal for flashing a couple of lamps but it seemed like magic to me at the time. I had discovered that I could actually build things that work! Of course the lamps that I used back then were filament bulbs that were dim and ran my battery down quickly. Your kids will be using modern high intensity LED devices which use very little power in comparison.
Microprocessors and the dawn of the digital age
I went to university and gained a degree in electronics at roughly the same time as microprocessors were emerging. This was to open up a whole new world of microelectronics and software engineering that would herald amazing products many of which we now take for granted. Digital music and video players, flat screen TV’s and or course the immensely popular cellular telephone are but a few. Did I forget the Personal Computer and the Internet in that list? What was I thinking?
These were exciting times and we were pioneers. We were the software heroes who would design the electronics and write the first software code for all this stuff and it was exhilarating to say the least.
Have our young lost the pioneering spirit?
To an extent later generations have missed out on getting involved in electronics at an early age and perhaps the bug that drives the passion to build stuff has passed them by and can you blame them? There seems to be many activities for young people to do today that would appear to them to be far more interesting than building electronic circuits.
Video games, hundreds of high quality TV channels, Youtube, social networks, smartphones. The list goes on and on and to add to the problem, the increasing burdens placed on parents make it far easier to simply allow children to watch TV, play online games or chat to their buddies on their smartphone than it is to encourage them to find out how things work and build stuff for themselves. So who is going to drive the next exiting innovations in technology into the future? Who is going to do it if all our bright young people are playing video games instead of building stuff?
Are there any electronic products left to invent?
You might be forgiven for thinking that everything that could be invented has been invented already but history has shown us that people always think that is the case. How could you think otherwise when it is so hard to visualize something that does not yet exist?
History has also shown us, time after time, that there is always something else to invent. We either haven’t thought of it yet or we just lack the technology to do it for now. We can make some predictions based on what we now see as emerging technologies. 3D printers for instance. As I write this 3D printers are in their infancy but it isn’t difficult to see a time when there is one in every home enabling us to print things that we need rather than needing to go out and buy them.
If you need a new case for a broken iPhone just print one. Fancy some new cooking implements for the kitchen then look online for some nice designs to download and print. Kids want some action toys or even some working toys. No need to buy the physical product anymore just print some off. Does this remind you in any way of the ‘replicator’ from Star Trek?
Help to build a new generation of electronics and software engineers
There are many new technologies set to change our lives in the near future and 3D printing is just one of them. Give your children the chance to be part of this because we need bright young people with a passion for building things.
Give your children the toys that they need to develop their engineering skills and encourage them to start building things. Give them an electronics construction kit and allow them to experiment with the circuits. Not all of them will grow up to become software entrepreneurs like Bill Gates but some of them might. Most will find the experience fun, challenging and absorbing. Some of them will pick up the bug as I did and follow it through. At the very least you will have given your children a better understanding of how things work and done your bit to help find the engineers that the world needs into the future.
If you want to see what kids think of these electronics construction kit toys then take a look at the videos on this page: Snap Circuits Extreme SC-750 Videos