This month has been super exciting and fun teaching people how to solder our Luminescent Night Light kit. We have spent a lot of time developing our facilitation methods so that everyone can learn how to solder, so we thought we should share some of the things we learned.
The biggest challenge of teaching kids how to solder properly is that the electronic components are so small, and the work area is teeny tiny. At first we considered using a video camera and a projector, but decided we wanted to make it more personal.
So what did we do?
We made a gigantic soldering iron, circuit board, and resistor out foam core!
Justin is doing a great job acting as the helping hands.
By play acting the soldering process with huge props, this very tiny abstract process takes on fun, identifiable forms. Its also funny to get parents involved and act your helping hands.
Get the parents involved!
Another great thing is that its an easy way to show good solder joints vs bad solder joints and be able to explain why.
Good/happy solder joints look like hershey kisses and bad/sad solder joints look like lumps.
The other major consideration we thought about was the layout of each individual work station. We have fume extractors, which are really important to remove and filter out solder fumes, but often times we were underwhelmed with how well they worked. People would be soldering with their helping hands but the extractor would be across the table not doing much. To fix this we made a very simple hack, and just attached the helping hands directly to the fume extractors with velcro. Now, 100% of the fumes get sucked away because you are working directly in front of the extractors fan.
Our laser cut solder stations.
We also designed and laser cut these plywood solder stations to make set up and take down smoother. Gone are the days of setting out 10 different things from 10 different bins and losing plugs and cables. Now everything fits neatly in a stackable box that you just have to plug in and turn on.
Hope to see you for some soldering fun this weekend!