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Electronics Curriculum / Course: LED Scope Part 1: Basic Electronics Review by Debra Brinkman

Applied Inspirations, LLC
http://appliedinspirations.com/

Applied Inspirations has put together some fascinating kits you can use to learn electronics. My teens have had a fair amount of experience with electronics kits in the past, so we thought we had a pretty good idea as to what to expect from the LED Scope Curriculum/Course Part 1.We were wrong.

Other kits we have used, or even classes we have taken, have featured some basic information about electronics, but mostly it was a lot like building a Lego kit. Follow the instructions, plug the right part into the correct spot, and in the end you would have a circuit that rings a bell, starts a fan, or whatever it was that you were supposed to be building.

The kids would understand a bit more about electronics from the process. In one class, they’d have gotten comfortable with soldering. Another kit would help them to understand a bit about what a resistor does. Bits here, and pieces there. This “kit” though? This kit really teaches electronics. In working through the materials, they can’t just plug and play. This is a class, not a mere kit.

Basic Electronics, intended for ages 10 and up, includes a binder with some introductory notes. Included in those notes are some schematics and charts printed on cardstock. The binder includes a 3-hole-punched pencil pouch filled with parts. There is also a 2-hole punched CD case that contains the text as PDF files. Also included are PDFs of all of the already printed materials; this is handy. In addition to the kit, you will need some tools. We already owned everything we needed, but a tool set is available for purchase at Applied Inspirations.

Basic Electronics is teaching just that: the basics. You learn what electricity is. You learn to read schematics. You learn about analog and digital circuits. You get plenty of opportunities to use a digital multimeter and to solder. You have plenty of opportunities to use math in the analysis of the circuits.

The course contains eighteen chapters in total, starting with chapter 0. Chapters 0-5 are chock full of information, with very little doing. Considering the meaning of the L.E.D. in their project name – Learn Electronics by Doing – those chapters did seem quite dry. My teens just wanted to get on with it and start doing something. We plugged along.

Once they hit chapter 6, where you started soldering, they were happier. From that point on, for most chapters, there was a fair amount of information in each chapter, followed by actual hands-on “doing.” The final step in most of the chapters is “Testing and Analysis.” I like that.

Each chapter is a separate PDF file on the disk, and we printed each out as we came to them. The teens could read the chapter themselves, and they knew just what to do. I appreciated that I don’t have to understand electronics for them to take an electronics course. Their father appreciated that they were getting solid electronics training without him having to draw out concepts from some simple projects.

For an idea as to the scope of this course, the chapters include:

0 – Introduction
1 – The Nature of Electricity
2 – Safety
3 – Reading Schematics
4 – Electronic Components and Digital Multimeter
5 – Electronics Construction
6 – How to Solder
7 – More Soldering
8 – How to Un-Solder
9 – Power Supply
10 – Diodes and Semiconductor Theory
11 – Capacitor Timing
12 – Variable Voltage Divider
13 – Transistors
14 – Transistor Amplifier
15 – Basic Flip-Flop
16 – Integrated Circuits
17 – Digital Logic

When my husband looked this kit over, one thing he noted that the included parts weren’t labeled or organized at all. However, in one of the early chapters, this was addressed. These parts were intentionally included this way in order to make it so the student has no choice but to work a bit more at identifying and testing them. You can’t skip that step, or you will not be able to go on. Brilliant!

My bottom line is that this course truly teaches electronics, with quality materials, and gives plenty of hands-on practice. Learn Electronics by Doing is more than just a slogan.

-Product review by Debra Brinkman, Crew Administrator, The Schoolhouse Review Crew, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, July, 2016

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