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Adafruit To Teach Electronics Through Puppets In New Kids Show

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the needs-tmbg-as-musical-guests dept.

Education 68

coop0030 writes "Wired has an article up about how Adafruit, the kit-based electronics retailer and promoter of hobbyist engineering, is aiming to teach electronics to a younger demographic. So young that they're enlisting the help of puppets. Their new online show, titled Circuit Playground, will teach the essentials of electronics and circuitry to children through kid-friendly dolls with names like Cappy the Capacitor and Hans the 555 Timer Chip. Limor 'Ladyada' Fried, Adafruit's founder and chief engineer (and 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year), will host the episodes, with her team assisting with onscreen and puppeteering duties. Episodes will premiere this March, and Fried holds hope for them to help inspire the next generation of designers and builders."

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Finally! (1)

MatthiasF (1853064) | about 2 years ago | (#42407125)

Now I can figure out how all this shit works.

Can't wait for the one about magnetics!

Finally? No. This is old news in a new format. (0)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about 2 years ago | (#42407137)

Now I can figure out how all this shit works. Can't wait for the one about magnetics!

Well, we might get clowns, but they'll be educated. This sort of teaching has being going on for a long time. I believe it's called McCracker Ln. Or Hayseed Road.... no, I got it.

Sesame Street! to the rescue...

Re:Finally? No. This is old news in a new format. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407183)

I used to watch a lot of Sesame Street, but I don't remember them covering any electronics.

Re:Finally? No. This is old news in a new format. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407237)

I don't think it went over well with test audiences, like the time Snuffleupagus' Parents Got a Divorce [wikipedia.org] .

Any link to the puppet show from Adafruit ? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#42409151)

I can't find any link at Adafruit's site for the puppet shows.

Can anyone kindly share the links?

Thank you !!

Re:Finally? No. This is old news in a new format. (4, Funny)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#42407429)

Don't you remember the Steve Jobs puppet they had that kept re-inventing things that were already invented?
Sesame Street has been educating kids about tech for many years now.

BAD IDEA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407257)

Cappy the capacitor doll? Are you fucking crazy? Strict precautions are taken when handling large capacitors in an electronic environment. It's why shorting clips are put into place and shorting rods are on one end of a meter or two of dielectric stick.

With that kind of dangerous idiocy, we can look forward to seeing a "Larry the Lightbulb socket" doll that giggles when the interior of his light socket is touched.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:BAD IDEA (4, Insightful)

tolkienfan (892463) | about 2 years ago | (#42407611)

Oh get a grip. Stick to picofarads and low voltage and low amperage and there's no danger.
You can get into trouble with batteries and wire if you try hard enough.
Many of us were building circuits when we were single digit in age.
I applaud Ladyada. I think what she's doing already (with adafruit) is fantastic. This just adds to my admiration.

Re:BAD IDEA (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#42410545)

as an example you can put an adult male into cardiac arrest with a 9 volt battery if you get blood contact.

seriously a nice chunky INSULATED screwdriver will work for anything in the pico/nano farad range you are more likely to "pop" a cap by putting it in a circuit backwards than get a dangerous shock from a charged cap.

Re:BAD IDEA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409697)

safety troll archetype.

able to see life only through the lens of their own personal failures, their feedback consists entirely of reasons why you should never do anything. ever.

"nobody should ever try to teach astronomy to kids because the sun is much too bright."

Re:Finally! (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#42410515)

get thee to allaboutcircuits.com and read my friend please note your maths must be This High to proceed past the DC book

Can I play the role of the boy who stuck fingers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407177)

Can I play the role of the boy who stuck fingers into electric outlet ???

Starring Mr Lizard (2)

stfvon007 (632997) | about 2 years ago | (#42407245)

We're gonna need another Timmy!

Puppets, is there anything they can't teach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407213)

Good for sex, CPR, stranger danger, recycling, counting...

Re:Puppets, is there anything they can't teach? (2, Funny)

El Torico (732160) | about 2 years ago | (#42407285)

But not necessarily in that order.

Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing nun (3, Funny)

mykepredko (40154) | about 2 years ago | (#42407233)

Onto a more serious note; it's always great to see somebody bring in some new ideas to bring electronics to kids.

It will be very interesting to see how the concepts are brought across using puppets. I would have liked to see some examples before the story went live.

The big issue that I always find is that when somebody comes up with a new idea for teaching concepts, they can illustrate basic concepts very effectively but get bogged down when the material becomes deeper and not so readily obvious.

Having said that, if they have a character for a 555, maybe they have a good formula!

myke

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407265)

Having said that, if they have a character for a 555, maybe they have a good formula!

I'm not so sure. That 555 character sounds like he's going to get boring after audiences see him doing the same thing over and over and over again...

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (2)

mykepredko (40154) | about 2 years ago | (#42408531)

Actually, if all you think the 555 can do is oscillate, then you're in for a pleasant surprise.

There are a lot of really amazing things you can do with it - just doing a quick search, take a look HERE. [555-timer-circuits.com]

myke

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (2)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 2 years ago | (#42407327)

That would be the "74LVC245 - Breadboard Friendly 8-bit Logic Level Shifter" https://www.adafruit.com/products/735 [adafruit.com] otherwise known as "Shifty"!
You don't even want to know what she has planned for Power Supplies (AC/DC, AC/AC, and DC/DC)!

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407599)

She's awesome at marketing. This is basic, basic stuff...

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42408061)

she markets to wanna be nerds who already have an interest in this shit, I highly doubt her "OMFG everyone read this" on avrdude really got too many new people involved

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42408115)

I mean she's really good at this marketing stuff. Personalizing a simple buffer as if it's a fun cartoon character designed just for you, when it's just a commodity chip. It's devious, cynical and brilliant. She's a great salesperson, no doubt. I'm just upset I have the ethics to NOT do that. I have to toil in obscurity in my regular job and don't get "moron of the year 2012" awards for my knowledge.

Why oh why do I have to be honest!?

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42408627)

Why oh why do I have to be honest!?

Are you saying she is lying?

As far as I can tell you are complaining because she writes good descriptions, and sells commodity components — as commodity components — at a markup on par with other small volume retailers... and is successful. Is that right? Please correct me, if I am wrong.

Adafruit — I am not affiliated with them — sells original products, kits, and components to a spectrum of consumers.

BTW Sparkfun sells a similar shift register for about the same price. Are you saying they are unethical and not honest as well?

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409065)

So you're agreeing that she provides nothing more or better than any other small volume retailer? So why the constant fanboyism and "2012 entrepreneur of the year"?

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409297)

I agree that she is on par with other small volume retailers, but she providers better descriptions, tutorials, and supplemental material than the other.

AND as I pointed out she offers a lot more than components. If you are just interested in commodity components there isn't much point in going to Sparkfun, Adafruit, etc etc. But Adafruit offers original products, kits, tutorials, and community. That is why she has the fanbase and media attention.

Nor does that seem that hard to understand.

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42408591)

Citation Needed

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409261)

Bipolar Hal, your NPN pal?

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42408469)

So how is that different from a capacitor character, or frankly any other component character? Your comment seems to be coming from the perspective that kids will be just stumbling upon this show and go "this is boring!" If indeed this is your ernest presumption, then I see you are saying.

But I think presumption is wrong, the kids who will be watching this show are going to be doing so because they want to learn about electronics. They will be seeking it out/been directed to it, because they are self selecting the material.

I have to say, however, that unless you read in the perspective I describe above, this post sounds a lot like a troll, and thus explains why you were voted as such.

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409491)

I doubt it'll work like they expect. What we need is someone like Bill Nye showing experiments with platforms like the Arduino, RasPi, and simply circuits. As well as parents that aren't afraid to let their children hurt themselves on the tools a few times so that they learn to handle them with care. When your a child is perhaps the best time to learn to solder, everyone burns themselves in the beginning, but when your a child your healing capabilities are ridiculously good. It's also a great time to teach a child burn triage and how to put out fire (instead of standing around in shock while everything burns to the ground).

My mother was terrified every time my father gave me electronics lessons (he was an air force trained electronic engineer). I burned myself a few times, but the pain taught me to treat the hot end of the tools with respect and care. I caught things on fire, but learned how to smother the fire with the shirt off my back, as well as how to use a fire extinguisher. She still to this day keeps a Christmas tree ornament I made when I was 8 years old, a gingerbread bear that eyes light up and plays deck the halls on a piezoelectric speaker embedded into it's chest when touched.

I didn't learn because my father tried to teach me the way a school would. I learned because he took a note from shows like Bill Nye (which I watched). He resorted to goofy experiments that I could do beside him, providing important guidance along the way. I laughed a lot while learning due to that teaching style, which made it one of very few points in my childhood that I still remember.

Re:Suggested Character:Transistor/cross dressing n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409759)

There is a transistor character (all characters are listed on this page [adafruit.com] ). No mention of a cross-dressing nun though.

Hans the 555 Timer Chip??? (1, Troll)

toygeek (473120) | about 2 years ago | (#42407273)

That sounds about as exciting as watching grass die. No offense meant here, I get the reference to the designer and all, thats cool. But I don'' see how this is going to excite kids. Kid sees "Hans the 555 timer chip". Kid thinks: "Whats a timer chip?" and unless that is answered in a very obvious way EVERY TIME the character is shown, it'll be lost.

Re:Hans the 555 Timer Chip??? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407311)

Yes but a woman is soldering LEDs to PCBs. Don't you see?

Re:Hans the 555 Timer Chip??? (3, Insightful)

ptorrone (638660) | about 2 years ago | (#42407375)

it is possible to even make a sponge (bob) exciting and fun for kids :)

Re:Hans the 555 Timer Chip??? (1)

toygeek (473120) | about 2 years ago | (#42407463)

You make a good point. And to the person who modded my post TROLL... I am NOT trolling. Its a genuine opinion with a real reason behind it.

Re:Hans the 555 Timer Chip??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409907)

"Its a genuine opinion with a real reason behind it."

Says every troll since time began.

Re:Hans the 555 Timer Chip??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42413867)

Your comment seems to be coming from the perspective that kids will be just stumbling upon this show and go "this is boring!" If indeed this is your ernest presumption, then I see you are saying.

But I think presumption is wrong, the kids who will be watching this show are going to be doing so because they want to learn about electronics. They will be seeking it out/been directed to it, because they are self selecting the material.

I have to say, however, that unless you read in the perspective I describe above, this post sounds a lot like a troll, and thus explains why you were voted as such.

Re:Hans the 555 Timer Chip??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407933)

Off topic, but "watching grass die"? It's "watching grass grow".

Re:Hans the 555 Timer Chip??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42408027)

watching grass grow would imply something productive is being done ... are you really that dense

Re:Hans the 555 Timer Chip??? (2)

dmomo (256005) | about 2 years ago | (#42408079)

I'm sure Hans will be just as exciting as any Old Timer is expected to be.

Not sure about the names (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407279)

Connie the Transistor, instead of, say, Tony the 2n2222?

Re:Not sure about the names (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407379)

Irving the IRFZ44V!
Charlie the choke!
Indiana the husky inductor who has to watch out for core saturation!

timing chip? (4, Interesting)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#42407321)

I'm not 100% sure what a 555 timing chip is so I might have to watch the show myself to learn, lol.

Re:timing chip? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407521)

At the top of my head the 555 is a monostable/multivibrator.
This brings me back to school.

Re:timing chip? (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#42408189)

That didn't rhyme and you didn't sing it! DO IT AGAIN or the show has you beat! lol.
By the way, I'm fairly certain a timing chip (on a motherboard at least) sets and controls frequencies for every various chip on the board. So if your timing chip sucks, you can't overclock very well.

Re:timing chip? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409279)

Monostable multivibrator? But I just met 'er!

Re:timing chip? (1)

Zenmonkeycat (749580) | about 2 years ago | (#42409227)

I hope you don't mind seeing Hans get into an orgy with Cappy and a bunch of other sexy, sexy components. What's really freaky is how if he gets it on with the right group, he'll be turned on and off again repeatedly, the filthy pervert.

The 555 is worthless garbage. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409667)

It's some piece-of-shit chip which is unreasonably popular given how unreliable it is and that it ultimately doesn't do anything special nor does it do anything particularly well. They should do the kids a favor and not even mention it. The only thing the 555 timer has going for it is vast swaths of example schematics which each have about a 50% chance of working as described, which frankly is as likely to deter kids from experimenting further when what they build doesn't work, as it is to encourage them when it does work. Spare them the misery.

Teach them how to build actual oscillators instead. (This presumes someone actually knows how -- I've seen too many people try to teach oscillators who clearly don't understand how they work themselves -- likely leading to the popularity of the 555.) Even an op-amp, a capacitor, and a few resistors makes a much more elegant oscillator than a 555. Use a 74HC123 for timing purposes, since unlike the 555, it doesn't become unreliable as hell the moment you try to go outside the audible frequency range.

Re:The 555 is worthless garbage. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42410327)

cool story, bro.

Re:The 555 is worthless garbage. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42411671)

I admit it has been a long time since I have built a 555 based circuit, but I never had a problem with their reliability. I can't count the number of 555 based radios I have helped the kids of friends (and in many cases the friends themselves) make.

The APPLE ][ used the 558 (a quad version of the 555) for the joystick controller, and I knew enough people working there at the time to know if they had reliability issues.

I admit in our modern age I rarely have cause to use the 555 directly, but in my own personal experience the 555 is a convenient little package that does exactly what is says on the tin...

Re:timing chip? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#42410489)

thus saith the Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/555_timer [wikipedia.org]

the tl,dr version is a 555 is a bog standard way to generate a timing pulse since it is one of those very stable designs (put it into a circuit with X values and you will get pulses at Y hertz) It of course can be used for a few other things also

Terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407361)

I thought the new definition of signs someone is a terrorists are people who tinkered with electronics? How can Adafruit be allowed to share this bomb making information to children! it has to be stopped! Wont someone please think of the children!!

Punch and Judy (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 2 years ago | (#42407377)

Let me guess, the new and improved version of Punch and Judy will be Apple and Samsung?

ANALOG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407383)

not a lot of analog guys here i think

Future guest stars.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407393)

Victor the Varactor diode
Travis the Transformer
Polly the polyvaricon capacitor
Timmy the Toroid .........

Re:Future guest stars.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42408489)

Boris the Program Monitor (USSR space race surplus):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgLwX8iWEWQ [youtube.com]

Re:Future guest stars.... (1)

DrVxD (184537) | about 2 years ago | (#42423339)

Boris the Program Monitor (USSR space race surplus):

In Soviet Russia, Program Monitors Boris!

(sorry - that was just too good a fed line...)

Re:Future guest stars.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409275)

Biploar Hal, your NPN pal?

Re:Future guest stars.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42409803)

Don't forget Vladimir the Vactrol.

F4irst! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407425)

see... The 8umber is the worst off

Some more elderly characters for the cast... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42407487)

Fat Agnes, Paula, Gary The Gate Array, and Sid.

and more..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiga_custom_chips

Not really Innovative! (0)

dohzer (867770) | about 2 years ago | (#42407537)

My university has employed Muppet lecturers for years!

There's something funny ... (1)

rnturn (11092) | about 2 years ago | (#42407583)

... about an electronics course taught by someone named "Fried". (Years ago we used to razz a friend who had a pair of Fried speakers -- "Hey dude... your speakers are fried!" -- so maybe it's an age thing that makes it funny.)

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42408521)

Seems to me that if a kid in the single-digit age group is interested in electronics, they're probably smart enough to get it without puppets.

And if they do need puppets, they probably should stick to reading and writing and not eating paste.

I feel awfully cynical about this, don't know why though.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42408573)

I know this is crazy talk — especially for /. — but maybe you could wait until there is an episode to watch before you judge. You really have no idea what this show is going to be like, just some preconceptions rattling around in your head.

It could be terrible, it could be great, but the point is we won't know until it is out...

Re:Seriously? (1)

DrVxD (184537) | about 2 years ago | (#42423347)

I know this is crazy talk — especially for /.

Couldn't agree more - since most folks can't even be bothered to RTFA, do you *really* expect them to wait to WTFE?

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42485537)

since most folks can't even be bothered to RTFA, do you *really* expect them to wait to WTFE?

While I might acknowledge that the average /. does little more than shoot off their mouth based on what little of the summery they bother to digest, that does not mean we should defend that reality, or excuse it for that matter.

We should all raise the bar on the quality of comments, and -- for that matter -- the discourse we find on /.

Re:Seriously? (2)

Steauengeglase (512315) | about 2 years ago | (#42409627)

Kids are odd creatures. They often have short attention spans, but they can watch the same thing (literally) thousands of times. If the kid learns something from it that is pretty awesome.

Does it come with a magnifying glass? (1)

Spugglefink (1041680) | about 2 years ago | (#42418847)

I started trying to teach my kid something about electronics the other day. I tore apart some broken dongle or other to show him what capacitors and stuff look like. But I didn't recognize any of the multicolored 1 mm sq. little bits of stuff stuck to the board.

So I tore apart some broken dongle or other from 10 years ago to show him what capacitors and stuff look like, and the little multicolored bits were about 3 mm sq. Not much of an improvement. I'm almost positive I probably identified one of the bits correctly as a germanium diode though.

So I tore apart some broken dongle or other from 20 years ago, and lo, there were capacitors and stuff there, but knowing what capacitors used to look like in the dark ages isn't that useful really. It wasn't a very productive day.

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