Put their techno-obsession to good use… get them an Arduino!
Do you have a child who is addicted to gaming? (Minecraft? Halo? – the list could go on forever) Or maybe an engineer in the making? Well, I do and sometimes it drives me nuts because I feel his time is being wasted on “GAMES.” It occurred to me that part of the obsession with technology isn’t necessarily bad. Technology is here to stay (especially in the workplace) and there are some products available that can actually help your technology-obsessed child’s future.
Case in point: The Arduino!
What the heck is an Arduino? In layperson’s terms it’s an inexpensive piece of hardware
that can be programmed and wired to make things work. Examples: robots, remote helicopters and cars. What’s also important to know is that this little piece of hardware can also be used for very sophisticated applications like home automation, artificial limbs, energy monitors, hydroponics, motion control photography. I even built an automated chicken coop (heating, lighting, auto-door, motion detector, to name a few functions) =)
The Arduino, in geek-speak:
ARDUINO IS AN OPEN-SOURCE ELECTRONICS PROTOTYPING PLATFORM BASED ON FLEXIBLE, EASY-TO-USE HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE. IT’S INTENDED FOR ARTISTS, DESIGNERS, HOBBYISTS AND ANYONE INTERESTED IN CREATING INTERACTIVE OBJECTS OR ENVIRONMENTS. (cite: arduino.cc)
Your child can learn about electronics, coding, engineering, construction… countless valuable skills. The only limitation will be their imaginations.
Even MIT is hyped on the Arduino!
Why the Arduino would be a good use of your child’s time and why they would actually want to learn & play with it
- It’s technical and at the same time, fun, creative and easy
- They can do it with their friends
- They can build countless numbers of projects
- They can actually learn and create things of value
- The skills learned can most definitely translate into careers (The Arduino language (based on Wiring) is implemented in C/C++, and therefore has some differences from the Processing language, which is based on Java)
- Families can do projects together
- MANY people around the world are already creating and sharing project ideas and code (including VERY smart engineers)
What exactly is needed to get started with Arduino?
While there are many components you can buy separately, I found it easier and cheaper to buy a whole starter kit. If you’re interested in buying separate parts, here is a saved search of Arduino products at Amazon.
Here’s what my son is getting for Christmas this year (Shhh, I got one for my dad, as well.)
NOTE: (there are cheaper versions of these kits ~look at saved search above~ but I wanted to get the official kit from Arduino, because there are some counterfeit boards out there)
The Arduino Starter Kit
It has everything he or she is going to need to get started:
- The only Official Arduino Starter Kit
- Includes 170-page Arduino Projects Book
- Includes components for 15 projects
- Includes Arduino Uno R3
- Includes a total of over 200 electronic parts and components
Here’s a list of some of my favorite “Dad Approved” Arduino items
(my affiliate links)
Getting Started with Arduino Tutorial on YouTube
Cool Arduino Projects:
Other Arduino Videos:
Have other questions about the Arduino?
Hit me below in a comment and I’ll do my best to answer.
Try Ardublock, it’s a java application that goes into the tools menu of the Arduino IDE, and makes programming easier for younger kids.
looks very cool! really appreciate you posting this. i’m going to show this to my son.
Love this post. My oldest boy wants a raspberry pi for christmas, he turns 9 next week, but I’ve been really considering trying to get him started with an Arduino first. He has some experience with the pi, using scratch and the like, but although he wants one, I don’t think he really sees the full potential of the device yet, and I see the arduino as an easy stepping stone to get him there with the pi. Maybe I’ll just have to pick up the arduino as a surprise birthday gift.
i appreciate the comments.
YES… get him the arduino! =)
you might want to show him some of the awesomeness that is going on in the arduino community: