The title notwithstanding, this is a book that will appeal to readers of all ages -- anyone who wishes to dip their toes in the electronics waters.
One of my great interests is getting younger folks enthused by anything to do with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). As part of this, I like seeing how other people go about teaching these topics. In fact, I just finished reading Electronics for Kids by Řyvind Nydal Dahl. I have to say that I find myself somewhat disgruntled, because it turns out that this is the book I wanted to write myself.
(Source: No Starch Press)
This is another brilliant offering from the folks at No Starch Press (see also my reviews on Learn to Program with Minecraft by Craig Richardson, The Maker's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse by Simon Monk, and Junkyard Jam Band by David Erik Nelson).
In the case of Electronics for Kids, the author has pulled off a tremendous balancing act by creating a book that is fun and interesting, that has the reader building things and making stuff happen right from the get-go, and that manages to explain the underlying theory without talking down to the audience.
The book features 23 hands-on projects, starting with connecting a small incandescent light bulb to a battery, which provides the platform to explain electrons, voltage, current, and resistance. Project #2 has the reader creating an intruder alarm using a battery, a buzzer, some wire, and some aluminum foil (in the early projects connections are held together using electrical tape -- later on we learn how to solder things together).
The recommended parts list for each project, combined with detailed step-by-step instructions, all accompanied by super-clear diagrams and photographs go a long way to ensuring the reader's success. Of particular interest to me is the "What if it doesn’t work?" section accompanying each project. The reason I say this is of particular interest to me is that, when I was a kid, so few of my own projects used to work first time; thus, it's great to have someone in authority explain that this is not uncommon and to teach you how to debug things and get them working.
I can so imagine myself reading this book when I was say 12-years old. Actually having created a working intruder alarm for my bedroom by page 10 of the book would have really spurred me on. In Project #3 we use a metal bolt and some wire to create an electromagnet; in Project #4 we create a simple motor; and in Project #5 we create a simple generator (this is a "shake generator" in which we slide small magnets back and forth inside a plastic tube around which is wound a coil of wire).
In later projects we are introduced to light emitting diodes (including blowing one up because we didn’t include a current-limiting resistor). Then we meet resistors, capacitors, and relays, and we create a simple RC-delayed relay circuit to flash a light. Along the way we are introduced to breadboards, schematic diagrams, and using a multimeter.
One great thing about this book is that nothing is trivialized. We progress through potentiometers and photoresistors to transistors and integrated circuits in the form of a 555 Timer, which we use to make an annoying sound in Project #16 and "An instrument that beeps and boops" in Project #17.
Still later, we are introduced to primitive logic gates and flip-flops and we use these little rascals to create things like the "Electronic coin tosser" in Project #22. Finally, in Project #23, we pull all we've learned together to build a reaction tester game.
If you have a young child or sibling who is interested in learning more about electronics, then this is the book you need to get for them. Actually, even if they don’t initially have much interest in electronics, working through the first few projects with them may open the floodgates, as it were.
Last but not least, the title notwithstanding, this is a book that will appeal to readers of all ages; anyone, in fact, who wishes to dip their toes in the electronics waters but has no prior knowledge or background in this area. In closing, I'd like to award this tome a resounding "two thumbs up!"
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting