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  • FIRST POST
    • Janey1a
    • By Janey1a 25th May 19, 10:58 AM
    • 34Posts
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    Janey1a
    IT engineering for kids
    • #1
    • 25th May 19, 10:58 AM
    IT engineering for kids 25th May 19 at 10:58 AM
    My 12 yr old is really interested in the workings of IT and techie stuff, circuit boards and internal workings etc. He does STEM club at school but that's a lot of coding, not internal workings. I know he's still young but does anyone know of any other ways of learning more? He's never been interested in after school clubs so I don't want to discourage his first proper interest in something!
Page 1
    • deannatrois
    • By deannatrois 25th May 19, 11:13 AM
    • 6,080 Posts
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    deannatrois
    • #2
    • 25th May 19, 11:13 AM
    • #2
    • 25th May 19, 11:13 AM
    Why not buy a cheap old pc and get him to test it, do research, compare components including motherboards and gradually upgrade it.

    I know I am an adult but I have built and upgraded PCs a few times. Save a fortune. I start by looking at what are the best components for the year, research the difference between what I knew and how the new components differ and learn an awful lot about what makes the components/motherboard work meanwhile.

    But start with a cheap pc first, take it apart, rebuild it as is. Identify the different parts and what they do, then no problems if something is ruined. Its absolutely fascinating (yep I am a saddo). Figure out what it is capable of, and what it needs to do what you want it to do. Does it need a new motherboard (not always unless you want VR), more RAM, new graphics card? I avoided doing a full upgrade for a couple of years just by buying a new graphics card.

    You could buy him a broken xbox, get him to figure out what is broken and how to fix it, lots of videos on Youtube. Broken DVD drives can be a bit complicated though lol.

    If I can do it with no technical know how in the beginning, anyone can. Last pc I built was a top knotch pc suitable for VR and with plenty of future proofing built in (I always do this). Like i said, if I can do it and understand it, anyone can (girlies - god help us - didn't even do physics at school when I was there up to 1980, I think that was what made me so stubborn lol).

    Youtube is a very very useful source of information with easy to follow videos. Having a pc to look at and fiddle with (take care with screwdriver use though, can easily knacker a motherboard - I did this first time I took a pc apart many years ago lol).

    Or you could get an electronics kit on amazon. Or look into Raspberry Pi kits if your son is more into circuit boards rather than practical computing.
    Last edited by deannatrois; 25-05-2019 at 11:30 AM.
    • onomatopoeia99
    • By onomatopoeia99 25th May 19, 12:04 PM
    • 5,618 Posts
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    onomatopoeia99
    • #3
    • 25th May 19, 12:04 PM
    • #3
    • 25th May 19, 12:04 PM
    My 12 yr old is really interested in the workings of IT and techie stuff, circuit boards and internal workings etc. He does STEM club at school but that's a lot of coding, not internal workings. I know he's still young but does anyone know of any other ways of learning more? He's never been interested in after school clubs so I don't want to discourage his first proper interest in something!
    Originally posted by Janey1a

    Depends whether he means plugging CPU, memory, graphics card etc into a computer motherboard, which is like assembling a Lego kit, or understanding the fundamental electronics that are the building blocks for simple circuits, that then lead onto things like cicruit boards, integrated circuits ("silicon chips"), then eventually VLSI chip design, which is one of the things I studied at university almost 30 years ago. I went into programming rather than electronics though.



    Academically if it's something he wants to pursue, maths and physics are crucial. Some electronic concepts were introduced in the physics O level (I also did an electronics O level) and expanded on in the A level.



    To do things like DIY interfacing from a computer to other hardware, the Raspberry Pi is an excellent base (there's also the Arduino which is a bit more expensive), there are a huge range of add ons you can get which gets you involved in the hardware side, but there's also a need to do coding to have the computer talk to the external hardware. Also all of it is inevitably a bit of a "black box" where some magic happens that you have no control of.



    Might be worth a chat with his physics teacher, if he has one (we were taught the sciences as discrete subjects with separate teachers from age 12, but one of my friends is a secondary school science teacher and she teaches all three as a single integrated subject so things may have changed).
    INTP, nerd, libertarian and scifi geek. Home is where my books are.

    5.2kWp system, SE facing, >1% shading, installed March 2019.
    • forgotmyname
    • By forgotmyname 25th May 19, 12:19 PM
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    forgotmyname
    • #4
    • 25th May 19, 12:19 PM
    • #4
    • 25th May 19, 12:19 PM
    Arduino more expensive than Raspberry Pi's ?

    I paid 1.14 for my Uno clones, Pro mini's around 2 on ebay or less if you buy from China.

    Built an Arduino battery monitor for my car. 2 for the pro mini, 99p for the bluetooth card and 99p for 2 voltage boards and 2.29 for 10 buck converters to drop the cars 12v to 5v or 3.3 to power the arduino.

    I can check the voltage from my phone or another arduino from inside the house. Next additions will be a screen and OBD connectors for live data when driving.

    All singing and dancing device could be built for under 20.

    Buy from China in bundles of 2/3/5 and save even more.
    Last edited by forgotmyname; 25-05-2019 at 12:23 PM.
    Punctuation, Spelling and Grammar will be used sparingly. Due to rising costs of inflation.

    My contribution to MSE. Other contributions will only be used if they cost me nothing.

    Due to me being a tight git.
    • onomatopoeia99
    • By onomatopoeia99 25th May 19, 2:25 PM
    • 5,618 Posts
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    onomatopoeia99
    • #5
    • 25th May 19, 2:25 PM
    • #5
    • 25th May 19, 2:25 PM
    Arduino more expensive than Raspberry Pi's ?
    Originally posted by forgotmyname
    I was basing that on the invoice for 55 that my employer had a couple of years back for the kit we have in the office, vs the Pi I bought for myself for less than half that.
    INTP, nerd, libertarian and scifi geek. Home is where my books are.

    5.2kWp system, SE facing, >1% shading, installed March 2019.
    • Janey1a
    • By Janey1a 25th May 19, 3:40 PM
    • 34 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Janey1a
    • #6
    • 25th May 19, 3:40 PM
    • #6
    • 25th May 19, 3:40 PM
    Thanks for the ideas..... a lot of it goes over my head! I do have a laptop that's about 15 years old.so I don't need it anymore. He's been asking to dismantle it but I was concerned in case there's anything he could hurt himself on, like the inbuilt battery that still holds a bit of charge. Is it safe for him to take it apart?
    • Janey1a
    • By Janey1a 25th May 19, 3:43 PM
    • 34 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Janey1a
    • #7
    • 25th May 19, 3:43 PM
    • #7
    • 25th May 19, 3:43 PM
    Thanks, I'll get him to speak to his physics teacher. He's spoken to his STEM teacher but the only other thing they offer at school is a robotics club which is just piecing ready made parts together and he's interested in the detail a bit more. Maths isn't his strongest subject though but he's still young, he has time to improve on that!
    • Heedtheadvice
    • By Heedtheadvice 25th May 19, 3:51 PM
    • 1,218 Posts
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    Heedtheadvice
    • #8
    • 25th May 19, 3:51 PM
    • #8
    • 25th May 19, 3:51 PM
    STEM covers a wide spectrum and even IT as a description only limits it a bit from the electronic engineering building blocks, through 'computing' in all it's guises (hardware -small scale to major systems- and software), communication (between computers or other types to carry info -comms networks, satellites etc), and storig and turning data into useful information and it's analysis ....or, dare I add, producing games or virtual reality!!


    It seems a shame that the club focusses on one narrow aspect of the topics.


    At 12 children often have a limited appreciation of the full gamut of STEM, and that is possibly why we now try and give some practical expefience of it. Unfortunately the narrow aspects are all they get. It seems IT becomes central to STEM. I echo the comments in the earlier post about the subjects, but even more so!


    I suggest that you do not knock out the interest by trying to push the subjects down your offsprings throat but find things that are interesting to expand the horizons, such as trips to places like the science museums.



    Kids need to see results so including the building block like the Raspberry can be great but limit time 'just keyboarding'. There are many kits available that give interesting experiments in areas of science and depending upon how advanced your 12 yo is. See https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/the-10-best-science-kits-7658059.html
    and https://shop.sciencemuseum.org.uk/science-kits-and-experiments also lots for sale in the shops or online.


    Very little of Science, Technology and Engineering does these days not heavily rely on or makes use of Maths (and the more advanced the more Maths becomes essential!) so best if you can encourage that.


    Your 12 yo may not know what is interesting yet in STEM so do encourage the whole. Many who go into IT initially (just experience coding/keyboarding like you describe at the club) eventually find it quite boring and really there is a whole world out there to explore. It is great you are encouraging it!! Try little 'tasters' to see what floats the boat, could be IT insides gets taken over by engineering for the environment or finding out how to grow more/better food!
    • Heedtheadvice
    • By Heedtheadvice 25th May 19, 4:01 PM
    • 1,218 Posts
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    Heedtheadvice
    • #9
    • 25th May 19, 4:01 PM
    • #9
    • 25th May 19, 4:01 PM
    On you laptop query, generally things are safe electrically but beware some component should not be 'opened' or damaged as they can contain toxic substances. Lithium batteries (usual in the battery packs) particularly should not be damaged as they can rapidly become very hot and even cause a fire. Just be aware and use your judgement. Laptops are not always easy to get into but PCs are. Then be aware of mains power into the power supply! A bit of supervision there might not go amiss!

    I suggest as has already been posted the Pi or arduino might be better but if innards floats the boat the kits are designed for children!
    • forgotmyname
    • By forgotmyname 25th May 19, 7:57 PM
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    forgotmyname
    He will short the battery out once or twice and will learn not to do that again.

    Arduino's are cheap and easily programmed get some UNO clones for a couple of .

    You can get quite a bit of kit for the Arduino for the 50 mentioned or even 30 or so that the Pi costs. You can do more with a Pi though.

    Use it as a desktop computer running Linux, use it as a retro games system with Retropie. Lots of uses and connects to a TV/Monitor.

    The Arduino can attach to screens but you need to buy those. Althogh old Nokia screens are super cheap.
    Punctuation, Spelling and Grammar will be used sparingly. Due to rising costs of inflation.

    My contribution to MSE. Other contributions will only be used if they cost me nothing.

    Due to me being a tight git.
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