It is a common desire for a young child to invent things. Many kids will even go so far as to start taking apart electronics just to see how they work.
One of the best ways to foster that inventor's spirit in a child is to actually teach them how electronic circuits really work. By starting early and introducing children to simple electronic circuits, you can get them on a road to a future career as an engineer or scientist.
One great website that serves as a fantastic tool for educators or parents to teach simple electronic circuits to children is The Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits
The Blobz guide actually takes the sort of simple electronic circuits that electrical engineering students first learn about, and presents them in a fun and entertaining way for a much younger audience.
Introducing Electronic Circuits to Kids
The way the Blobz Guide introduces the idea of electricity and circuits to children is by starting with the most fundamental element - electricity itself - and then building upon that in each stage, or step, of the website.
The website actually offers multiple children to take part at once, but most of the time kids will choose to work through each stage of the website alone. The first step is to choose how many players will be working through the site.
The Main Screen
Once you enter your name, the "game" interacts with you by using your real name. In the case of multiple players, this is how the site tells you whose turn it is.
There are five major sections of the website, with navigation to each of those five sections represented with five graphical buttons at the bottom of the screen. Those sections include What Makes Circuits Work?, Conductors and Insulators, All About Switches, Changing Circuits, and Circuit Diagrams.
Since each of these topics increase in difficulty, it's best to start from left and work your way right through each subject.
Fun Learning Activities
In each section, there are three subsections: informational, an activity, and then a quiz.
The informational section consists of simply reading instructions, just like sitting through a classroom lecture. The next section is a fun activity that helps to drive home the subject that was covered in the info section. Finally, the last section consists of a final quiz, which will test how much you actually learned in this step.
Below, you can see an example of the activity for "What Makes Circuits Work?" In this activity, the goal is to understand what a completed circuit looks like, as opposed to a broken circuit - or one that is not wired correctly.
Fun Circuit Activities
Below, you can see an example of the informational subsection for the "Conductors and Insulators" section. All of the informational content is supplemented by graphics and images that help students understand what are sometimes fairly complex topics.
By carefully reading through the information section and observing the pictures, kids will gradually come to understand the concept of electricity and how it is harnessed and used in electric circuits.
The activities, such as the one below for the section of switches, help students develop an intuition about electric circuits and all of the components that go into them. Once students are done working through the Blobz guide for circuits, they will understand at least the basic electrical components as well as how simple electronic circuits operate.
To top off the activity, kids will then need to complete the Quiz subsection, which tests their understanding of the content in the information and activity subsections. These quizzes not only drive home the most important concepts, but they also motivate kids by lighting up a "star" when the quiz is done. After all five stars are lit up, the kids are promised a "bonus".
Probably the most important section of the site is the final one, where students will learn all about the most common, typical components that go into a circuit, and how to identify those components on any wiring diagram. Children are taught the standard symbols for those components that usually appear on any standard wiring diagram.
Learning Circuit Diagrams
Once all five sections are completed and all of the quizzes are done, all five stars at the top of the game will be lit. When this happens, a trophy image starts flashing next to the stars.
Once students have successfully completed all quizzes, and click on the flashing trophy, they will be afforded the opportunity to actually print out a certificate of their own, proving that they've completed the full Blobz Guide course.
Winning the Bonus Award!
The awards are actually customized based on the player name, and can be printed out on paper so that kids can hang their awards right in the classroom.
If you would like to offer a unique and educational way to introduce electric circuits into the classroom - the Blobz Guide is an excellent, free resource. It's especially valuable for the science classroom, but it would also be well suited for any other classroom where you want to inspire students to think outside the box.
It may seem like just a pipe dream when students talk about doing something amazing like building their own robot, but with some studying and a lot of practice, those dreams of creating inventions of their own could actually become a reality.
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