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What To Cover In a Short "DIY Tech" Course? 256

Posted by timothy
from the when-bedazzler-is-not-enough dept.
edumacator writes "Our school is working hard to provide our students with relevant opportunities of study. We have a short 'seminar' period that meets three days a week for thirty minutes. I've chosen to teach a seminar on 'Home Grown Technology' even though I'm an English teacher and only an amateur techie. If you had thirty minutes, three days a week, for nine weeks, what would you teach a group of high school students? I'm considering the Wii-mote smartboard and multitouch displays, but I'm afraid I'm overreaching."
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What To Cover In a Short "DIY Tech" Course?

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  • Morse Code.

    • by j35ter (895427) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:05PM (#29599459)

      Boooring!
      show the kids how to build a PotatoGun (tm).
      That should keep them interrested

      • by clockwise_music (594832) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @09:14PM (#29600851) Homepage Journal
        • Show them how an engine works by getting them to coil wire around a magnet and hook it up to an LED.
        • Then move onto car engines and show how it's the same idea. Then explain how to turbo charge an engine.
        • Computer stuff that you need to know but are never taught: How to safely open up your box, take it apart and put it back together
        • The difference between memory and hard disk space and what paging is. Get a computer and take it down to 128 meg of memory and see what happens. Use perfmon.
        • Basic electronics, multimeter usage, soldering iron - all very handy. Take a stuffed electronic guitar in (just cut a wire or whatever) and show them how to fix it.
        • How to not put personal stuff onto the internet and explain what happens if you do. Then try it with a "John Smith" registered on facebook, myspace etc. Then google the person next week.
        • How the internet works - do a quick HTML website and explain it all
        • Explain how there's more to the world than just the USA and yes, you can actually go to those countries. (sorry, low blow)
        • Show how to back up your data and explain why! Different possibilities such as a local HD, external HD, external computer, using an internet backup provider.
        • Sewing. Seriously. Sew a zipper onto a jacket. Fix the holes in your socks. Make some trakkies (don't know what you yanks call them).
        • Bike maintenance and fixing. How to adjust everything, what tools you need. How to make it more efficient. Get people to bring in their bikes.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by digitalunity (19107)

          Some of that will be difficult to teach in just 30 minute sessions. Stick to the basics.

          • Manufacturing basics, including:
            • Qaulity control basics
            • Work in process tracking
            • Sexual harassment awareness(seriously)
            • Request for quotation processing
          • Basic electronics theory, including:
            • Electricity fundamentals, definitions of voltage, current, resistance, power
            • Ohms law
            • Series circuit calculations
            • Parallel circuit calculations
            • Soldering
            • Using breadboards to make simple circuits
          • Computer basics:
            • Definitions of components
            • Binar
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by story645 (1278106)

            Sexual harassment awareness(seriously)

            Seconding this. Teach the boys that letting the girls use the tools is a good thing. If you do hardware/mechanical projects, please pay attention to the class and call the boys on their sexism. It may have gotten better since I was in high school (graduated 5 years ago), but I remember lots of boys doing the mechanical stuff for the girls, sometimes due to misguided chivalry but often plain old sexism.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How about building a reprap? Constructing a machine that can build most of its own parts is a rather useful task. Doing so will cover electronics, mechanics and material science all in one go.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by elfprince13 (1521333)
      spark gap transmitter.
  • See above.
    • Improvisation? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dov_0 (1438253)

      Instead of bomb making, take a lesson from bomb makers all over the world. Improvisation. Each week teach the students some basic principles, say, how electric motors or toasters or pulleys or whatever work. Then give them a range of materials out of which they can make their own device. As you go, choose items with which you can teach basic but important principles in physics and electronics. Later on in the course, do repairs on household appliances etc (pref low voltage or get an electrician on hand to t

      • by eepok (545733)
        THIS THIS THIS! For three weeks, teach principles, then have them put sh*t together. (Half the fun will be deconstruction a bunch of unwanted appliances *for class*!)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fractoid (1076465)
          Agreed! Kind of like Junkyard Wars for kids. Get them to actually make something that does something.

          I'd suggest going to a car scrapyard rather than pulling apart household appliances, though. The thought of a classroom full of kids doing 240V wiring (cmon, Real Men don't use 110V :P ) is kinda scary. Cars are full of fun things that run off 12v... and they even include the battery to run them!
  • Lego Mindstorms (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:44PM (#29599259) Homepage Journal
    Lego Mindstorms [wikipedia.org] would be a good, fun place to start.
    • Re:Lego Mindstorms (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:50PM (#29599301)
      Yeah, but if we're talking about a public high school's budget these days, you may as well being telling him to build a breeder reactor out of smoke detectors... Mindstorm is expensive and schools are el cheap-o about spending money. Hell, my mother who is a high school ap Spanish teacher just had to put up all the money for supplies to build a pinata to represent the school at an event sponsored by the Richmond Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which the Principal later tried to take credit for, but has yet to reimburse my mother for the expense, at least since the last I heard of it.
      • ...build a pinata to represent the school at an event sponsored by the Richmond Hispanic Chamber of Commerce...

        Does the district have severe racial problems?

        • by bsDaemon (87307)
          Gloucester mostly doesn't have other races... Richmond has a lot of problems which depending on how you want to look at it, may or may not be racially caused, but certainly are drawn on racial lines... that and because VCU kids suck.

          Actually, I only heard of this Richmond Hispanic Chamber of Commerce deal last week... I didn't know there was such a thing until I went home to visit my parents over the weekend.
      • FWIW I'm looking at having to fund and "interesting" science curriculum for my daughters class.

        I already have a standing wave tube built out of polystyrene beads in a 6 foot long, 6 inch diameter plexi tube.
        This would also be an awesome demo for the school kids for the OP.
        I'm looking to build a tennis ball canon powered by dropping a bowling ball down a tube.
        yeah, OP should expect to have to fund much of this himself.
        -nB

        • Re:Lego Mindstorms (Score:4, Interesting)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @09:18PM (#29600875) Homepage Journal

          OP should expect to have to fund much of this himself.

          He could start by teaching his students how to find materials for building these projects from free sources, such as the trash.

          The most talented makers I know tend to pay very very little for their materials. I have heard the term "The Garbage Santa" as an answer to the question "Where did you get this stuff?" on several occasions.

          I have found everything from 23" LCD monitors to Prada coats in the alleys next to the trash cans just within a 4-block radius of my home. Americans, especially the well-off ones, have the richest garbage you could imagine. I learned this from my wife, early in our marriage. She grew up in a rather poor Eastern European country. When I met her, she was already a math PhD on her way to a tenure position, and made a decent living, but she still marveled at our wastefulness. At first, I was a bit embarrassed to take something that someone else had discarded, but I think it was the slick Prada coat (it didn't look like it had ever been worn) that I still wear, that I began to overcome my discomfort. I'm guessing some divorcee was purging her townhouse of her ex-husband's belongings or something, and I was the beneficiary. Seriously, this is one fine-looking coat.

          Also, for example, I am currently sitting in a Herman Miller Aeron Chair that someone had thrown away. Seriously. It had a small tear in the mesh that was easily repairable.

      • re: pinata (Score:5, Funny)

        by davebarnes (158106) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @10:13PM (#29601185) Homepage

        I am sure you meant to write: piñata.

    • Self-Made Software (Score:3, Informative)

      by dunng808 (448849)

      "DIY" and software do not appear together often enough.

      I would teach them how to create their own personal "apps" using Squeak. Use Nebraska to collaborate and share in class. Look for a few techies to help.

      To get stared, try Sugar on a Stick and look at Etoys, a specialized subset of Squeak. (You use Squeak to create Etoys.)

      http://www.squeak.org/ [squeak.org]

      http://squeakland.org/ [squeakland.org]

      http://www.sugarlabs.org/ [sugarlabs.org]

      Nebraska: http://wiki.squeak.org/squeak/1356 [squeak.org]

      Wider range of info: http://squeak.zwiki.org/SqueakNotes [zwiki.org]

      A recent class a

      • There might be something suitable at http://www.sciencetoymaker.org/ [sciencetoymaker.org] Yes - many are low-tech and old hat, but there are easy to follow instruction sheets and also science information so you can go into the theory of what they have just made. To my mind, you can't beat the old coke bottle vortex. http://www.sciencetoymaker.org/vortex/assembl.html [sciencetoymaker.org]

        Even if this isn't what you are after, it's worth checking out.

        I'm also remembering that my brother had an electronics-for-boys kit and built his own lie dete

  • by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:47PM (#29599275) Journal

    I'm considering the Wii-mote smartboard and multitouch displays, but I'm afraid I'm overreaching."

    Not necessarily overreaching (I guess it depends on their prior experience), but those projects, while they have a definite "cool" factor, aren't particularly useful.

    Personally I would stick to teaching them more useful stuff... maybe basic repair of electric appliances, or if you want something more advanced and that has both the cool factor and would be useful (at least to some people), maybe this DIY book scanner. [instructables.com]

    • by tloh (451585) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:15PM (#29599575)

      How about starting off with the proper use of a multimeter? Just being able to find out the current/voltage/resistance conditions on various rigs have served me well in the past.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by URL Scruggs (1230074)
      I strongly disagree. I think too many people are put off electronics by the utilitarianism, maths and feeling like they need to know something before they start. I would suggest circuit-bending, the skills can be picked up along the way and there isn't really knowledge threshold for starting. I think it's far better to teach people the principles of reverse engineering and give them an idea that they can just do things. Take away the scariness of opening the lids on stuff and it could lead to all sorts of c
  • Agriculture (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Crop agriculture, farm equipment repair, and irrigation systems.

    Kroger is NOT the future.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:50PM (#29599303)

    Pyrolysis of wood or other biomass such as garbage into carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas for use as a fuel for vehicles or cooking.

  • Go with basics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hungus (585181) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:52PM (#29599321) Journal

    Go with basics: EM interference/signal crossover and Electrostatic Discharge. Each one can be taught in a 30 minutes session and would provide such a foundation to further lectures.

  • by wronski (821189) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:52PM (#29599323)
    I'm sure there will be many interesting suggestions, but to me it would be preferable to focus on building simpler devices which the students design themselves, rather than something fancier that forces them to simply follow a blueprint (because they won't have the time/expertise to design it from scratch). Of course, there will be a continuum between 'built from scratch' and 'paint by numbers'-type projects, with different levels of student involvement in its design, and you'll have to find your balance.
  • by sh()gun (249305) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:53PM (#29599325) Homepage

    I've always thought that teaching something that combined science, engineering, and Vo-Tek would be highly practical in high school.

    How about Small Engines? You can buy a small lawnmower engine (and a manual) and teach them principles of mechanics and combustion while also levening parts of "how things work" as well as basic repair techniques. Eventually you put the thing back together and start it up. You can even show how to mess with it to trick it out or solve common problems.

    Not only would this get kids interested in science and engineering, but it would be practical.

  • Linux installation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by masmullin (1479239) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:54PM (#29599347)
    rather useful skill... develops a desire to learn more about computers.
    • by Shikaku (1129753)

      Make sure they use Gentoo too.

    • Have you been in a coma for the last 5 years? Its all about works out of the box now, the infrastructure is utterly irrelevant apart from a small minority. Its all about what your imagination can build on top of it now and how quickly you can get it on app store.
      • by selven (1556643)
        Some, like Gentoo, let you go through a lengthy, arduous (but very powerful and customizable) installation process.
    • by westlake (615356)

      rather useful skill... develops a desire to learn more about computers.

      If simply installing Linux has become as easy as the geek pretends, why should it inspire any greater desire to learn about the machine than any other OS?

      • Ubuntu is easy to install. Gentoo forces you to actually learn something about it.

        Besides which, once you've got it installed, there's still plenty to explore.

  • i would spend at least a couple of weeks having them build and program some microcontroller projects.
    here's a place to start: http://hacknmod.com/hack/top-40-arduino-projects-of-the-web/ [hacknmod.com]

    Arduino is a physical computing platform based on a simple open hardware design for a single-board microcontroller, with embedded I/O support and a standard programming language. The Arduino programming language is based on Wiring and is essentially C/C++ (several simple transformations are performed before passing to avr-gc

  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @05:55PM (#29599361)
    Like clicking on a link in an unsolicited email is a BAD idea.
    I took a course in 10th grade, it was some simple electricity course, Electrical safety, series and parallel circuits. resistors and capacitors. The final project was to build a simple electric motor. Including winding the armature and coil by hand.

    I found this course much more useful in real life than just about anything else I have ever learned.
    • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:18PM (#29599597) Homepage Journal
      I was going to put a vote in for some kind of electronics project as well. I am finding that more and more of my friends (college age +) who have great DIY spirits (car and motorcycle tinkering, learning computers in depth, even sewing) look at electronics as some sort of black box of magic that they can't/shouldn't tamper with. My own roomate was looking for a pair of LED blinkers to install on his motorcycle, when I recommended he make some himself using bought/scavenged materials he got nervous at first. When I started drawing some circuit diagrams for him and told him I would help he got excited.

      My point is, electricity, in and of itself, is nothing to be feared/worshiped if properly understood. Teaching kids to hack away at some electronics could greatly improve their understanding of some of the most common items we use everyday.

      As for a suggestion, I would tell you to have each of them go home and get their parents/grandparents to donate an old walkman to them for a project. Then have them disassemble it and use the components to make some kind of mobile toy (hence using something with a motor) that they can take home and show off. Of course, this requires soldering, but it still could be great fun for them. I personally have built two Symets (little bouncy pseudo robot things) from old Discman's and had a great time doing it.

      That's my two cents.
      • Me too (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bussdriver (620565)

        Electronics. people don't know jack about electricity. could start as simple as static electricity and giving shocks to people. you could make a van-dagraph from junk.. old soap bottles with paper clips make nice capacitors. then work towards a simple circuit from scratch--- a motor might be a nice idea but a generator / motor would be better-- ties into the 'green' movement; they could power an LED from their hand-made generator and a simple prop placed on it.

        Could mess with solar, but the cells cost an

        • My brother is a shop teacher and kids these days have a hard time doing a half decent job assembling simple plastic models -- in high school!

          This may be true, kids today may have trouble doing something we did growing up, but they have skills that didn't exist then. When I first got into computers microprocessors and microcomputers were only for hobbiest and were homebrews [wikipedia.org]. The kids today that are the age I was then can post their own websites, even if only on Facebook or Myspace. I used to be able to wo

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by yurtinus (1590157)
      It's a do it yourself tech course in high school... It's not supposed to be useful, it's supposed to be fascinating and hopefully get a few students more interested in pursuing further. Leave the computer basics to a computer class (or hopefully their parents...). However, the basic electricity course you described looks like it would be dead on. I can't think how often I'd need to hand wind an electric motor ;)

      You need to figure that you're teaching a high school class. You might have one or two student
    • I'm genuinely *not* dissing you here...

      WTF? that was 10th grade? I know I started sooner than most on electronics when I took apart my dad's HP (first or second HP RPN engineering calc made, forget the model) when I was 3, but wow! I was winding motors and series / parallel circuit stuff in elementary school.

      Since I'm in a similar situation to the OP I'll ask:
      Was 10th grade the right time for this kind of stuff or do you think you could have handled the series/parallel circuit stuff in late elementary wit

      • Given that bit of geek narcissism, I think the really hard part for you will be remembering that the majority of any given population has, by definition, IQ scores less than 110.

        Anyway, it is for me- and yes, by 5th grade I had built my first crystal AM set, though no soldering iron- I had the spring kit on cardboard circuit diagram from Radio Shack....but that is by far NOT what you can expect from 21st century public school students for the most part. Oh, you'll get one or two kids in every class who und

        • Yes, I know, my inner geek is um... enthusiastic.

          That's why I'm making sure (trying to anyway) anything I design will be understandable in basic concepts by the teachers, with the hope then that they can explain it. What I'm really scared to death of (besides over complexity) is the grown-ups not simply saying "I don't know" and asking me for clarification to be given to the student (and appended to the materials for the future).

          -nB

          • Of course, you could really scare both the left wing and the right wing by having the students build a *working* model of the Ark of the Covenant and hook it up to a HERF gun. Should give you a range of about 40 feet, at only 3 Farads.....

        • by BluBrick (1924)

          Oh, you'll get one or two kids in every class who understand what you're talking about, but the majority will have no clue.

          At the start of the course, maybe. But the teacher's job is to help the kids learn. If most students still have no clue at the end of the course, the teacher has failed.

          • At the start of the course, maybe. But the teacher's job is to help the kids learn. If most students still have no clue at the end of the course, the teacher has failed.

            There is also the point of age appropriate instruction. The subject was when beginning electronics should be taught- the GGP said 10th grade, the GP said 5th or 6th grade. I'm making the point that the concepts involved would NOT be developmentally appropriate for a 5th or 6th grader, unless the kid is a 1 in 10 level genius. Eve

      • I'm genuinely *not* dissing you here...

        I believe you. What you are missing, is I am an old man.
        I have owned radios with tubes in them.
        I took apart anything I could get my hands on from a very early age.
        Highschool was a VERY long time ago. I remember it being grade 10, but it might have been earlier.
        Grade 11 and 12 electronics courses were great! My instructor had worked on the Apollo project. He showed the class an early IC. White ceramic, and dripping with gold. He had removed it as defective from the

    • by turing_m (1030530)

      Like clicking on a link in an unsolicited email is a BAD idea.

      No need to teach children soon-to-be obsolete skills. In the post-singularity future, strong AI will have eliminated spam.

  • by EMB Numbers (934125) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:03PM (#29599429)

    I did something similar with 8th graders. Use short physical projects to keep them engaged. Have each student build a tower out of a single sheet of copier paper and tape. The tallest free standing tower wins. Build boats out of measured amounts of aluminum foil. The boat that holds the most marbles before sinking wins. Build water rockets out if 1L plastic bottles. Build bridges out of tooth picks, paper, and glue. The bridge that holds the most weight before failing wins.

    Each of the projects can be completed in 2-3 half hour sessions with almost no material cost. These projects teach basic physics and engineering in a fun and competitive way. You can even repeat the same projects later in the term so that the second rounds of towers are designed with knowledge gained in the first round, etc.

  • by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:03PM (#29599433) Journal
    First I'd teach some basics: Ohm's law, serial/parallel circuits, etc. Then using a transistor as a switch to turn LEDs and/or relays on and off. Then build up some AND and OR gates, followed by some address decoding and control logic. Throw in some parallel port I/O stuff in as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekboybt (866398)
      This. Then move up to stuff like a 555 timer and a counter, which are incredibly cheap (on the order of a few bucks at most per set). Finally, if the budget allows, move up to an Arduino.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by digsbo (1292334)
      I would put a couple of these together. How about get them to control a simple electrical device (lamp, motor, laser) from a PC? At a very simple level, this would include basic electronics, the transistor switch project, some programming, and wiring up a parallel port adapter. This is a nice introduction to robotics and physical computing.
    • by Ceiynt (993620)
      I like your idea and wonder what kind of book I could find this in, or what I would need to look for for a project like this.
  • by cellurl (906920) *
    Ask them to prove where Celcius and Farenheit meet. After they struggle, give them the equation as a hint. F= 9/5C+32
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:06PM (#29599461) Homepage Journal
    Oh wait.. It's been done. [youtube.com]
  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:07PM (#29599481)

    Seriously, how many photos of hot young girls in the mirror or even worse that look like they're trying to point the camera at themselves.

    Do the world a favor, show them that most cameras have a self timer. Heck my Canon has an awesome feature where it'll crank off up to 10 photos after a custom timer delay. Plenty of time to 'get into position'.

  • If the school will let you burn things, try building alcohol burning camp stoves. They don't take long, and different styles can be compared/tested against each other in scientific method experiments.
  • Basics first (Score:3, Informative)

    by Smidge204 (605297) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:12PM (#29599531) Journal

    You got 27 half-hour sessions. At least three of these should be spent on basics if the students haven't already had them, such as soldering & desoldering, basic principles of electrical/electronics (including reading diagrams) and using a multimeter... one that measures capacitance, frequency and temperature if you can afford it.

    And basic safety, of course.

    From there it's really a matter of what, exactly, you want your students to take away from your class.

    The multitouch display is neat but the bulk of it is programming; do your students have any programming experience? Do you have time to teach them?

    Homebrew robotics can be pretty straightforward and inexpensive. A few stepper motor drivers (Allegro used to give free samples of their 5804 controller...), some stepper motors of course (Easily salvaged from dead scanners/printers), a spare PC power supply, an old PC with a parallel port and adequate amounts of wire can make a pretty versatile robot platform.

    If you want something more digital, microcontroller projects might be a bit of an initial investment but are also pretty cheap in the long run. Build robotic platforms, embedded data loggers, "smart" appliances, etc.

    $20 worth of properly rated relays and isolation components will turn a PC into a crude home automation system. Add in photo sensors, temperature sensors (thermistor + ADC chip), motion sensors, etc for a more complete system.

    Keep is simple, keep it cheap, keep it interesting.
    =Smidge=

  • You don't have to go overboard and etch your own circuit boards, but learning to solder really goes a long way. you can talk about cold solder joints, RoHS and the future of equipment failure. It would be great to show how to splice and insulate wires properly, how to replace a frayed cord on an appliance (huge money saver), and the basic safety tips about working on household current. teach them to read a wiring schematic while you're at it, and show them how to use a multimeter properly.

    if you have 9 we

    • by beckett (27524)
      Also, depending on what kind of students you have, with kids never assume you're overreaching. In the reality of the overcrowded classroom, teachers frequently set the bar far too low. Give them assignments that are open ended, and always offer constructive criticism and show how they could make their project even better.
  • What amount of time do you expect the students to put in outside of class? 30 minutes three times a week is not enough to much, unfortunately. It will take 10 minutes for them to start concentrating, and if you need lab materials, that leaves about 15 minutes of combined teach/work time before they'll be leaving.
  • DIY Tech? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by odin84gk (1162545) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:19PM (#29599609)

    This sounds a little broad. Are you looking at it from a hacker scene? Electronics and Mechanical building? Electrical, mechanical, and chemical technology?

    Most of the projects posted on blog.makezine.com would be a good starting point. While the wii is cool, it only touches on a small number of technologies. I would recommend having a final project in mind, and developing the skills required to finish that final project. For example,

    1.) Basic electronics (How to solder). Use a kit from ladyada or sparkfun.com. If you get a small enough kit, a beginner can solder a kit in less than 10 minutes. (http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9206 might be fun). Addon: How to use a voltmeter
    2.) Basic programming (Create a simple program on the PC).
    3.) Basic woodworking: How to use a drill, saw, and other tools Safely.
    4.) Basic Plastic/Metal working: Create a professionally looking project enclosure. (Look at the proper glues, cutting methods, tricks for a decent enclosure)
    5.) Basic Chemistry: Creating a mold, possibly making gears for # 6
    6.) Basic Mechanical: Creating a gearbox
    7.) Basic Plumbing/hydrolics/pneumatics: How to get water/air from point A to point B
    8.) ...

    The best programs will have an end project in mind, such as a small car or an elaborate prank. Each step will be directly related to the final product, giving the students a purpose and motivation to do well.

  • Build a basic DC motor - copper windings, permanent magnets, bend up tin for brushes. Then after you've messed with the tech for a little while build a brushless DC motor. Build a little dynamometer and compare mechanical power out to electrical power in.
  • MAKE (Score:3, Insightful)

    by anglophobe_0 (1383785) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:31PM (#29599733)
    I would think a lot of the stuff from MAKE! Magazine would be useful.
  • Check out the book, "The Complete Problem Solver" by Arnold ( http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Problem-Solver-Competitive-Decision/dp/0471541982/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top [amazon.com] ) . Then use these methods for troubleshooting technical problems that abound locally, in order to teach principles. Take easy problems, and reward students for finding and reporting on useful examples of their learning during the week. This way you can find a variety of problems in different technical areas and keep them interested. Advanced

  • Small tesla coil (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alarindris (1253418) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:32PM (#29599745)
    I'm making one right now with a buddy. Parts will cost you about $75 after you find your neon sign transformer.

    Start out with the transformer. Right there is a lesson in power/watts/amps etc right off the bat.

    HV caps are expensive, so make some leyden jars.

    Hook up your coils and caps and you've got some sparks.

    Then you can move on to inductance and resonance and tune the thing.

    Add a rotary spark gap, terry filter, power conditioner etc as they learn more.

    Get a couple neon bulbs, build a corona motor, etc.

    I've got some experience in electronics, but in the past few days my knowledge is really starting to solidify.

    Plus giant sparks are fun, everyone will dig it.
  • How about the original home grown tech, ham radio? Simple projects abound and the technician license is easy to teach and pass.

  • Project Management (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mistermocha (670194)

    I would encourage you to teach the students about project management. Put them into groups of three, tell them to come up with a concept of a project, and develop a plan to bring it to fruition. Have them search for resources among peers. Encourage them to form relationships with other groups so that projects can support each other. Teach them about managing resources - time, money, talent, etc.

    Let them figure out the specific details of their projects and approach subject matter from a higher level - skil

  • Everyone I knew back in high school who as into electronics was into it for one reason: Fixing guitar amps, guitar wiring, effects pedals, etc. In high school I built a solid-body electric guitar for a project and then did a demonstration through a tube amp cobbled together by a dude who is now married to my little sister. My guitar is beautiful... that amp, not so much... BUT it worked very well.

    Maybe make a PA and a speaker cab, wire some pickups or something, etc... you're bound to have a few kids in
  • Pick up an original Xbox, walk them through a softmod and a Linux install, teach them to make USB adapters for the mouse and keyboard. Voila...you've taught them about computer internals, BIOSes, operating systems, and how to solder, and they thought it was all about video games.

  • Open Source Hardware (Score:3, Informative)

    by JuzzFunky (796384) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @06:54PM (#29599933)
    You can get some pretty cool projects going quickly and easily with an Arduino [arduino.cc]. Combine that with Processing [processing.org] and you can do almost anything...
    • by Rinikusu (28164)

      I was about to make the exact same suggestion. Good one.

      I'm working through some Processing stuff right now, gonna add arduino later and finally tie it all together and do some interactive a/v work with my music live show. I'm pretty stoked. I gave up developing software years ago, but for the first time in a long while, I'm actually excited again.

  • 1. Basic customer service skills. I'm assuming you will also be teaching some about fixing stuff. Get your victim's/customer's/friend's name, and use it. Pay attention to what they say. Rephrase your responses until the understand. Try to leave them with a solution that not only works, but that they can see works, and can see if it fails. Stand behind your work. Be focused on your customer first, and then do the techie stuff.

    2. Ethics. Same scenario as above. Don't go snooping around their hard dri

  • Cigar box guitars and amps. http://www.cigarboxguitars.com/ [cigarboxguitars.com]
  • ...teach them how to say "Yes Sir" in Mandarin & Cantonese...

  • You've got to get their attention first -- impress them with something that makes them say, "Wow, that's cool!" This is particularly important when reaching out to high schoolers and others who aren't necessarily techies yet. While some "neat" algorithm or circuit may capture your attention or mine, it's really hard to visualize for people who aren't already in that mindset, so you generally need a good physical interaction to capture their attention and spark their interest in the first place. From our

  • The most useful and far reaching thing you could teach in such a limited time are skills surrounding how to structure online information searches, how to clearly ask the right questions when speaking or writing, who to ask various types of questions, and how to understand the validity of the answers (marketing, technical, or just FUD).

    The students would then be able to make use of these skills to find more appropriate and direct information about whatever interests them now, and into the future.

The economy depends about as much on economists as the weather does on weather forecasters. -- Jean-Paul Kauffmann

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