AdaFruit's plan to get even the youngest of children into building electronics has kicked off with Episode 1 of Circuit Playground - A is for Ampere.
As we reported at the end of 2012, AdaFruit, and our guess is AdaFruit's founder Limor Fried, is very keen on education and the big idea is a Sesame Street style puppet show to teach electronics. If this seems silly give it a go. The first episode is about basic current flow and features a range of characters including a robot, named Adabot of course, and Andre-Marie Ampere:
Subscript to the Adafruit You Tube channel to be notified of future episodes.
Credits: Ladyada - Limor Fried
Andre-Marie Ampere - Collin Cunningham
ADABOT - Collin Cunningham & Phil Torrone, Puppet by Anney Fresh, design by Bruce Yan
Music: Tom White & Collin Cunningham
Intro animation - Bruce Yan
Written, filmed, edited, directed and produced by - Collin Cunningham, Limor Fried, Phil Torrone and the Adafruit team
The show has been criticized for being too "talky" and too technical for its target age range. We do tend to aim low when it comes to technical education for kids, we seem to expect them to just give up if it is difficult. Thinking back to my own technical education, there were lots of times when I was lost by some book or article, but instead of turning me off it made me more keen to understand and to master something difficult and clearly worthwhile. What did matter to me was being convinced that really was worthwhile and having role models telling me that it was also helped.
Overall my opinion of Episode 1 is that it is much better than I expected and it works for me. After watching it three times I might even watch it again, but then again I'm not really in the age range of its intended audience - but I really wish I was.
Did I mention that there is a coloring book and Plushies to collect? My favorite is Hans the 555 timer, but mainly because of the many happy hours I've spent with the real thing...
At a time when we are worried about the failure of STEM education this is a worthwhile project even if it isn't perfect and I can only hope that it continues - it looks like it was great fun to create.
Could we do the same for programming and software?
I really see no reason not to, but without a charismatic leader, and speaker to puppets, like Lady Ada, I don't think we are going to get it off the starting blocks - any suggestions or volunteers?