I just received the following announcement from the folks at SparkFun Electronics (www.sparkfun.com
). This relates to a bunch of interesting training courses that they have coming up for kids who live in or near Boulder, Colorado. I tell you, I wish I could have attended something like this when I was young…
The official announcement is as follows:
SparkFun Electronics (www.sparkfun.com
) shares its passion for electronics by providing parts, knowledge, and innovation for those looking to explore the world of embedded electronics. It helps anyone discover their inner inventor and enable individuals of all ages to create their own electronics projects. Recently, SparkFun announced a new Department of Education initiative to make electronics education exciting, accessible and affordable. At the head of the department is newly appointed Director of Education, Lindsay Levkoff, Ph.D.
SparkFun Electronics always has focused on “Sharing Ingenuity” by providing extensive online resources as well as offering a variety of in-house workshops and events. The recent development of a new Department of Education within SparkFun emphasizes the company’s passion and commitment to providing individuals with the tools they need to explore the world of building their own inventions using embedded electronics technologies.
A new website will be launched later this year that is catered toward introducing a person of any age and technical background to electronics. The hope is that anyone interested in pursuing this exciting field will find the necessary resources and inspiration to play and invent. Here is a breakout of upcoming classes being taught at the SparkFun HQ in Boulder, CO. SparkFun plans on taking video at these classes as well, for those who are unable to make it to Boulder for these occasions.
Summer Semester – August 15, 2011 - August 19, 2011, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This five-day electronics-palooza will help attendees who have an idea for an electronics project make it a reality. This workshop covers napkin schematics, working with datasheets, Arduino programming, soldering, e-textile basics, PCB layout with Eagle, using XBee wireless communication, and incorporating GPS.
PTH Soldering – August 22, 2011, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
In this class, attendees will learn the basics of soldering plated through-hole (PTH) components. SparkFun instructors will lead the class as they learn the basics techniques and tools for doing PTH soldering at home.
SMD Soldering – September 8, 2011, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The SMD Soldering Class is our very popular course that teaches SMD soldering to anyone who thinks they can't possibly solder those little pins. This will be a hands-on class where the students learn techniques to help them solder surface mount components. It is highly recommended that you have a strong background in soldering, as basic soldering skills will not be covered.
Stenciling Class – November 17, 2011, 6 p.m.to 7:30 p.m.
Solder Stenciling is a method of soldering that SparkFun regularly uses in its production process to solder tiny surface mount components. In this class, attendees will learn the tricks, techniques, and tools that are necessary to perform solder stenciling at home. Taught by SparkFun’s own stenciling-gurus, this class will help those in attendance move beyond the limitations of the soldering iron.
SparkFun at Maker Faire 2008
SparkFun at Maker Faire 2009
The SparkFun Inventor’s Kit
The SparkFun Inventor’s Kit
SparkFun will continue to host workshops on various areas of electronics technology, including soldering, stenciling, wireless communication, printed circuit board design, prototyping and the exciting emerging field of eTextiles. The company also offers several starter kits with instructions for beginners and more experienced tinkerers to learn and develop a complete range of skills.
Furthermore, SparkFun hopes to continue partnering with schools and education programs to foster excitement about electronics and technology in the classroom. SparkFun Electronics is developing in-depth curriculum aids for use with microcontroller technology. The purpose is to make a teacher’s job easier by providing all of the products and materials to conduct a class or full course, with an emphasis on creativity, constructivism and differentiated instruction. SparkFun believes the key component to effective lifelong learning is fun and enthusiasm and the company reflects just that. The improvement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education has been declared a national priority by President Obama. Through hands-on experience, SparkFun hopes to help students explore the creative side of engineering and computer science.
A real-world example
A recent collaboration with a local Denver elementary school's after school program culminated in an incredible growth (more than 80 percent) in students’ interest and knowledge in the STEM fields. SparkFun’s programs are designed to explore students’ creativity as well as the technical aspects inherent in electronics technology, creating a positive STEM experience and encouraging future exploration.
In October of 2010 SparkFun Electronics taught a PTH Soldering class at Place Bridge Academy's Beacon after school program. Led by Ryan Owens and Casey Haskell, four SparkFun employees helped 40 Elementary school children assemble and solder SparkFun's Simon PTH Soldering Kit. All students completed their kit and took home a working game, the day was ended with root beer floats.
In December the same after school took a tour of the SparkFun Facilities with an emphasis on the various jobs necessary to run a company like SparkFun. The kids had a blast and learned a skill set that Electrical Engineers often must wait to learn in the final year of their Bachelor Degree studies. Below is a testimonial from the director of the Place Bridge Academy's Beacon after school program.
Place Bridge Academy serves approximately 40 middle school students in its Beacons after-school program. In its first year working in the after-school context and first time partnering with Sparkfun Electronics, pre and post-surveys showed incredible growth in students' interest and knowledge in the STEM fields. Students participated in one or both of two activities with the designated partner. The first activity was a soldering workshop in which students put together a Simon game kit. The second activity included students traveling to Boulder and touring the Sparkfun building. Of the forty students who participated, over 80% showed an increase in interest in the field of science, technology, engineering and math. There was a significant turnaround from a majority of students who were "not interested" or "not interested at all" to "very interested" in the STEM categories. Furthermore, over half of the students were able to list 50% more careers in the science fields. In a different survey regarding students' overall satisfaction of the after-school program several students commented that their favorite activities were when Sparkfun partners were present. After visiting the Sparkfun building ALL of the students wanted to return later in the year for the Autonomous Vehicle Competition and further inquired if there was another soldering workshop they could participate in. It is clear, based on pre and post-surveys as well as individual comments and stories that the Sparkfun partnership had a great impact on the students of Place Bridge Academy.
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