Project to Help 12-Year-Old Get Into Electronics?

Discussion in 'Career Advising' started by Art Duino, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. Art Duino

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 30, 2017
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    A friend of mine has a 12-year-old son. He has Asperger's Syndrome, which means his way of thinking is a little unusual. I don't know much about it. He is high-functioning, so there is no reason why he can't learn things and have a career. He has a lot of aptitude for STEM stuff. He likes technology.

    For reasons too boring to get into, we think it would be good to see if he can be tempted to get started in some sort of programming. Maybe CNC or something related to robotics. He needs a place to start.

    Can anyone recommend a good project for him? I was thinking maybe there was an educational robot or something out there for kids this age. I am willing to help him. I know a (very) little bit about electronics and computer languages.

    He lives in a rural area where we can't expect much from the schools.

    Thanks for any ideas you can provide.
     
  2. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    CNC is bit expensive to get into, there is PLC or one of the small micro systems, for e.g. there is the Pendulum project in Picmicro that has C and Assembly version of the program.
    Pendulum is a lead into something like the Segway type scooter etc.
    Max.
     
  3. Mark Hughes

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    Jun 14, 2016
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  4. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    How locked into robotics are you? Getting started in programming could be done by making a smartphone app, for example. The resources you need, other than a computer, are free and there's a ton of helpful stuff out there.

    Or, there are gobs of kids playing with the Arduino these days. You can write programs to flash LEDs to get started, and move on to quite complex projects if you want to. I've seen, for instance, projects to make internet-connected thermostats with LCD displays. (These were on a different microprocessor, but the point is the same.)
     
  5. Art Duino

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 30, 2017
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    Thanks for the replies.

    The reason I thought of CNC and robotics is that I have learned that some people with Asperger's are very well suited to CNC. I figured CNC and robotics are somewhat similar (telling machines what to do with code), so these are the areas I asked about. I don't know how excited he would be about basic Arduino, as making LED's go on and off is a little dry.

    CNC is pricey, but as it happens, I have a small CNC lathe he could fool around with.

    The Makeblock things look very promising. I will run the idea by his mom and see what happens.
     
  6. MrSoftware

    Active Member

    Oct 29, 2013
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    Check out the MakeyMakey kits, the video at the bottom of this page shows what you can do with this one:

    http://www.kr4.us/makey-makey-deluxe-kit.html

    If you like Robotics, check out the uArm kit at the bottom of this page, again there's a video at the bottom of the page. Just know that these arm manufacturers don't provide a lot of tech help so forums like this one will be your best source of info:

    http://www.kr4.us/uarm-desktop-robotic-arm-rob-13663.html

    Some kids can focus on complicated things for hours, others get frustrated quickly. You know him better than we do, but I would say it's better to pick something too simple than too complicated at the beginning.
     
  7. bwilliams60

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2012
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    Lego Mindstorm?
     
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  8. MrSoftware

    Active Member

    Oct 29, 2013
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    Also if you think he might like electronics electronics, like circuits and stuff, maybe start with an Arduino and some LED's. Those are very easy to code for (relatively speaking) and turning LEDs on/off would be great feedback (pretty flashing things are always good for kids). Also there is a ton of online support for Arduino, so getting help from the community would be super easy. Later he can add all sorts of stuff; motors, door locks, fingerprint scanners, etc..
     
  9. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    If you do go the CNC route, pick him up a copy of CNC Programming by Peter Smid.
    Max.
     
  10. BR-549

    Distinguished Member

    Sep 22, 2013
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    Art Duino........buy him an Arduino starter kit. 40-50 bucks. I assume he can use google.

    I have a nephew that has that and he is 10 yrs and he is obsessed with weather. Been looking for an arduino weather unit kit. He really studies it and it's time for his own station.

    Does the boy have any special interest?
     
  11. MrSoftware

    Active Member

    Oct 29, 2013
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    Check this out for your nephew:

    http://www.kr4.us/sparkfun-weather-shield.html
     
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  12. Art Duino

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 30, 2017
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    I don't know a whole lot about his interests. For a time, he was interested in some sort of programming related to video games, but that seems like a dead end. This week he was doing something with Linux, but he wouldn't say what it was. Said he was writing "binary code," which was something I had never heard of. I know about computer languages, but I've never heard anyone say they were writing binary code before.

    The weather shield is interesting. He is obsessed with hurricanes.
     
  13. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    Binary is the closest to the natural language at the processor level, but if pure binary it can be a little tiresome, better to step up to at least Assembler.
    Max.
     
  14. Lyonspride

    Member

    Jan 6, 2014
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    And boys like toy cars and the colour blue, whilst girls like dolls and the colour pink.

    I think we try to pigeon hole people too much, we all do it, but it's very lazy.......... If you've ever tried to look up information about pet cats, you'll have some clue of just how much nonsense there is out there on the internet and worse within social contacts (who just regurgitate nonsense they heard on daytime TV).

    Everyone is different and I think in cases like this it's better to make the effortto try to get a better idea of what this young lad might like.
     
  15. Art Duino

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 30, 2017
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    Actually, boys do like toy cars. And real cars and war toys.
     
  16. Lyonspride

    Member

    Jan 6, 2014
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    They play with and like what they're given, if a boy plays with dolls, he'll be dissuaded from that behaviour. We're taught (forced) to fit in with societies "norms" from an extremely early age.
     
  17. Art Duino

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 30, 2017
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    If you say so.
     
  18. Lyonspride

    Member

    Jan 6, 2014
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    Ok fine, learned behaviour through social interaction and positive reinforcement, is a long established fact. But I guess you know better, the groundless stereotypes win.....
    Anyway, I'm male and have long hair, so it goes without saying that i've got better things to do right now like being lazy, not working and getting stoned, while i'm at it I might think about having my monthly shower.
     
  19. Art Duino

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 30, 2017
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    Really more interested in electrical engineering than social engineering, but thanks.
     
  20. Glenn Holland

    Active Member

    Dec 26, 2014
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    First of all, I'm very uncomfortable with hearing of that label of "Asperger's Syndrome". It's just a label (not a true medical diagnosis) for people who simply don't think like the average person (who based on world standards) is basically stupid. Every time I hear someone come up with a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome or autism, I feel like screaming at the top of my voice "You _ _ _ _ _ _ _ idiot stop dumbing down our children!!!".

    Scientists and engineers are in the business of unconventional thinking and that's why society needs more people who are NOT your Average Joe. In fact the misdiagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome is damaging the ability of the U.S. to maintain its lead in STEM and if it's really a mental illness, then we need a lot more of it.

    That said, my recommendation is that your son start building his career by studying basic mathematics like learning multiplication tables, long division, algebra, etc. Then start studying basic physics such as electricity and magnetism. He also needs you guidance by meeting with his teachers so he doesn't get isolated and "down routed" as being developmentally disabled.

    Finally, I wish you the best of luck I and please keep us updated on your progress.
     
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