Electronic – Looking for a *fun* way to introduce basic electronics to the kids


We recently came across this video:


and both my six year old and 13 year old thought it was pretty cool. I am a computer programmer, but never did much with electronics, so I am looking for some suggestions on how to introduce electronics to myself and my kids in a fun lab/project oriented way.

Its a little challenging b/c of the age gap between my kids, but I'm ok if the younger doesn't understand everything. As long as he can participate in the lab and be involved in what we are doing, he will pick things up along the way. Likewise, I wouldn't want something so simple that my older son is bored.

A few preferences:

  • I would prefer to stay away from robotics initially, maybe we can graduate to that, but I am looking for something not quite as involved.
  • I would prefer that we can bring a programming component into the mix relatively soon, like in the example I linked to above, but that's not a requirement. That also is something we can graduate into.
  • I would prefer not to shell out a whole lot of money initially. Maybe a couple hundred dollars at most, but hopefully less.
  • I'm ok with learning stuff from a book or videos but my main goal is to give us projects to work on together. This is mostly about trying to find something to do with Dad time that is fun for us all, learning electronics is kind of a bonus. The labs or projects are my focus.

So, can you suggest books, kits, websites, or other resources that would facilitate what I have outlined above?


@AndrejaKo: I know basically nothing about electronics. I understand that it involves things like resistors and logic gates, etc. but as to what those things are and how they are used, I know nothing.

I have a multi-meter I bought at Lowes, but that is about it. If I have to spend the money to get some basic tools & components, thats ok. I just want to keep the cost down until I found out if this is really something they we are interested in doing together or if its going to die after a few projects.


I began trying to put together an order for the electronic components for the All About Electronics experiments section as well as the first chapter of Make: Electronics. I had a couple hours into it, wasn't sure I was ordering the right components, and was somewhat discouraged when I happened across a blog that is walking through the Make: Electronics book that mentioned MakerShed's component packs for the Make: Electronics book. That sealed the deal for me! I went ahead and ordered the first component pack and the book (which was only $10 if you buy the component pack).

We are going to start out with this book. If we make it past chapter two, I will go ahead and order the second component pack. The price has to beat RadioShack and even if its more expensive than ordering the components individually, I'm way sold on the time its saving me.