EEME was recently approached by iLEAD Explorations, a homeschool / home study school, for an interview about EEME Dad and EEME. The interview was published in their Monday Message to their community. Given that many families have asked about EEME’s history, we decided to post the interview here on our blog as well.
Enjoy! Jack “EEME Dad”
Tell us about your background in electronics.
First off, let me present a general introduction. My name is Jack Pien and I am the founder of EEME (pronouced EE-mee) which is an acronym for Electrical Engineer Mechanical Engineer. EEME teaches kids electronics with hands-on project kits. Each project kit is paired with its own online lessons to show the kids how to build the project and, more importantly, teach them how the project works. Our website is - https://www.eeme.co (that’s dot CO, not com).
I have a degree in Computer Science from Dartmouth College and worked in various San Francisco/Silicon Valley tech companies for over a decade before starting EEME. My exposure to electronics ranges from having worked as an architect and/or software engineer at circuit chip design companies such as NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD, to having a hobbyist's enthusiasm for designing guitar tube amplifiers, guitar pedals and building robots.
How, when and why was EEME created?
EEME is almost four years old, and my son is almost four (Update 2/12/2019 - son is almost 7, and daughter is now almost 3. Time flies!!). As a new parent, I started researching edu resources available for kids these days. I learned about Khan Academy, Udacity, and Coursera. At the same time, I was spending my non-parent hours just building fun robots absorbing the Make movement.
These two exercises had me recall my own childhood where I was constantly taking apart calculators, electronic devices and playing with Radio Shack electronic kits. I recalled being frustrated with not knowing how any of these kits or the parts laid out in front of me worked since no one was able to teach me.
Yet 3+ decades later, in the 21st century, there still was no edu resource that paired hands-on project kits (that has become pervasive with the Make movement), with the ubiquity and distributability of online video lessons (that has become pervasive with the MOOCs movement) to teach the kids how the projects work. Hence EEME was born to fill that hole and bridge the Make and MOOCs movement together.
Do you create the kits? How do you decide which ones to purchase or develop?
I personally create each of the project kits as well as design the lesson curriculum. A lot of it is inspired with, well, tapping my own childhood enthusiasm by just looking around and, rather than taking for granted, say, how a night light works, trying to dig in and understand exactly how it works.
I then design a circuit that is simple enough for a kid to make, simple enough to explain in a handful of 2-3 minute video sequences and that uses safe and easy-to-handle electronic components (I’d love to create a guitar tube amplifier project but that will require 200+ volts of electricity which is probably not going to fly with the safety criteria!).
Why/how is this so important to a child’s future?
I think people miss the point around all the talk of STEM, STEAM, arts vs science/math, etc. EEME is not even about the electronics. It’s about learning through hands-on building - preferably building something that’s actually applicable to our everyday world - versus just reading about it in a text or in a lecture by a teacher.
Being hands-on intimately fosters curiosity. The reward of understanding how something works becomes tangible. As a child grows into adulthood, childhood hands-on building establishes a foundation to be curious and suppresses the fear of doing and making.
A healthy dose of youthful curiosity that hands-on building nurtures can help an adult transition into old age as well.
Do you offer classes and/or how would a homeschool mom get the support she needs to conduct these lessons?
A family can learn with EEME by subscribing to our monthly electronics projects. Each month, we ship them a bite-sized project to build and learn from.
Each project is paired with its own online lessons and curricula to show the learner how to build the project and teaches them how it works.
Everything is included in the kits down to batteries and stripped wires. Parents can learn with the kids as they build together!
We don’t (currently) offer classes but some homeschooling families have expressed interest in using our kits for workshops where groups of kids get together to build. If that’s something the families want to explore, we’d love to have a conversation. Please email me - email@example.com (dot CO, not com).
How can someone find out more about what you have to offer?
We also have free online lessons to teach electronics which simulates circuit building. Visit our site to sign up. From our site, you can also learn about our project kits. You can preview the online lessons for mostly all our projects.
So, if a family is unsure about EEME as a fit for their learners, sign up via our website to:
- Check out the free online lessons
- Have your kids watch the first couple of video lessons from one of our monthly kits
...and you should be able to get a feel for fit.
You may also email me directly - firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome any family to reach out!