As some EEME Families have noticed, we recently changed EEME's main website. As wrinkles continue to get ironed out, it will be apparent that the change was indeed an upgrade! Along with the website, we are also moving to a new blog platform. As time moves on, we will migrate some of the older articles to the new blog. In the meantime, if something is hugely amiss, please let us know!
Jack "EEME Dad" and the EEME Team
While cooking the other day, I realized my family had about 40 different spices and seasonings in our cupboard. I regularly cook with about 10 or so. My wife, who is more of a baker, uses about 30 or so. As a chef, that’s a lot of input ingredients and complexity to consider. Yet, we are generally not intimidated by cooking and we all do it.
Turns out, when considering the complexity of input ingredients, circuit design is way simpler than cooking. Unlike cooking ingredients, circuit designers use effectively 6 fundamental components - that’s right SIX - to build and design any modern day tech gadget of any variety.
(Top left to right: resistor, capacitor, inductor, diode, transistor. Bottom: wire)
Wire - this is what you use to connect components together. It is also the fundamental building block for something like a light bulb which is effectively a very fine piece of wire (ie filament) that emits light and heats up when electric current flows upon a flick of the switch.
Resistors - as its name suggests a resistor resists electric current. Like how a river dam controls and limits water current flow down the river, the resistor limits the amount of electric current flowing through our circuit. As an example, by controlling electric current, we can limit how bright an light bulb shines.
Capacitors - this component stores and provides electric energy much like a water reservoir can store and provide water when needed. Sometimes voltage drops because your battery or wall outlet is not a perfect source of electric energy and on occasion the voltage can drop temporarily - say when the vibrating motor on your phone kicks on. During this moment of voltage drop, the capacitor can make up the temporary loss to prevent your phone from resetting. Additionally, without diving into detail, a capacitor’s ability to store electricity makes it an essential component to convert the alternating current (AC) from your wall outlet to a stable direct current (DC) needed to say, charge your cell phone.
Inductors - this component also stores electric energy but in the form of a magnetic field. It is the fundamental building block for an electro-magnet, which is the building block for an electric motor.
Diodes - in a wire, electric current can flow in either direction - from one end or the other. Such is the case with alternating current (AC) coming out of your wall socket - current is moving back and forth. Simply speaking, a diode is a one way traffic officer that allows electric current to only flow in one direction. Combined with a capacitor and resistor, you have a circuit that can convert AC to DC - a circuit in every wall adapter you own. Additionally, diodes have another amazing property for a totally different yet pervasive application. When electric current passes through a diode, the diode can emit light which is the fundamental property of light emitting diodes better known as LED’s.
Transistors - due to similarities in construction, a transistor is a cousin to diodes. While diodes directs electric current to only flow in one direction, transistors can control when/if electric current can flow through. In other words it’s a switch. For a mechanical switch, like a wall switch, when it’s on, the switch closes the circuit and electric current can flow through the switch. The switch toggle is mechanical - meaning, you physically need to turn it on or off.
For a transistor, the toggle is electrical. Depending on the voltage applied to its electric toggle, the transistor switch turns on or off. Imagine a transistor switch that controls if/when another transistor switch turns on/off, that controls another transistor switch and so on. That chain or topology of how the transistor switches wire together in a circuit define it’s functionality. Does the circuit implement a simple calculator, timer? Or perhaps this circuit (of millions of transistors) implements a modern central processing unit (CPU) in a computer or smartphone.
With these 6 components, you can create anything from a simple light circuit to a modern day computer.
With EEME, your family will use all them to build the various projects. And we'll dive deeper into how they work.
If you don’t view cooking as a monumental skill, then you have no reason to be intimidated by circuit design.
Happy building! Jack "EEME Dad"
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org (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 - email@example.com. We welcome any family to reach out!
EEME makes hands-on projects to teach kids electronics. One way to learn with EEME is with our monthly hands-on electronics projects. Each month, your family receives a new electronics kit to build and learn about.
Besides the projects we define, there are actually a number of different things you can build and experiment with using the components from our projects kits. Here are a couple of suggestions (from us at EEME as well as submitted from EEME families building our monthly kits):
- LEGO reed switch (using LEGO pieces, magnets and Project Attraction)
- Lemon battery LED light circuit (using lemons and Project Genius Light)
- Infrared proximity sensor (using Project Tentacles and IR)
- Project Genius Buzzer (using Project Genius Light and Project Tentacles)
- Morse code generator (using Project Tentacles and Project Fade to Black)
What other project ideas can your family come up with? We’d love to know! Please submit your awesome project ideas!
Thanks and happy building!
Jack "EEME Dad"
An EEME family recently took Project Genius Light and Project Tentacles - from EEME's monthly electronics project subscriptions - to build a Project Genius Buzzer!
Hey EEME Dad!
Here is a beeper that will sound if it is too dark and if something is too close to it.
Components Needed: 1. piezo beeper form Project Tentacles 1. 3.3k resistor from Project Tentacles and/or other resistors around 3.3k 1. 4 wires from Project Genius Light 1. Photoresistor from Project Genius Light
Concepts learned - how a piezo buzzer works - how varying the amount of resistance affects the sound of the beep. - how it is similar to an IR sensor, but with visible light instead
Totally awesome! Hope your family is inspired as we are!
Jack "EEME Dad"
EEME makes hands-on projects and online lessons to teach kids electronics. Through hands-on project base learning, kids not only learn the subject at hand but they also develop a curiosity for how things in the world around them work.
Unlike most edutainment toys, each EEME project combines the entertainment of building with explicit teaching and learning.
There are predominately 2 ways to learn with EEME.
1) With our FREE interactive online lessons.
By signing up with a free account, your family can build and learn about various electronics circuits with our interactive platform.
These online lessons are the best way to get introduced to the EEME learning and building experience.
2) With our monthly hands-on project subscription.
Each month, your family will receive an electronics project kit to work on. Each project is paired with its own online curricula to not only show your family how to build the project, but also teaches them the concepts applied. Each month’s project builds in concept from the previous months’.
Our monthly projects are ideal for kids (ages 7 and up) and families who look forward to a new project to work on each month.
EEME emphasizes learning and fostering curiosity through hands-on play. In addition to our projects and lessons, we are constantly streaming educational projects and experiments to try on our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages. So please stay connected with us!
Lastly, EEME would not be great without your support and feedback. So please provide us your thoughts and suggestions on how we can improve.
Don’t hesitate to reach out! I personally check and answer every email received.
Thanks and happy building!
Jack “EEME Dad”
PS - help us spread the word about EEME by writing about us online, sharing our free online lessons with friends/family.
Ever wonder how USB devices such as your phone, GPS devices, webcams get power? Turns out it isn’t complicated at all.
Check out our video explaining more and demo'ing with a USB powering one of our EEME hands-on projects.
Have fun and happy building!
Jack "EEME Dad"
Project IR is one of EEME's hands-on projects to teach kids about infrared (IR) light. Since we cannot see IR, Project IR builds an IR detector circuit.
But if you have not had a chance to build an EEME Project IR, no worries. Grab a digital camera or your smartphone!
This whole time, you may have thought a camera is just good for taking pictures and videos. Well turns out it can see things humans cannot!
Check out our video clip of a fun experiment to try with the family to pique their interest for physics and learning about light waves.
Word of caution and warning - if you try the experiment in the video at home - where you plug in a stripped USB wire into your computer or power adapter - you run the risk of damaging your equipment if not handled carefully.
With that said…
Have fun and happy building!
Jack "EEME Dad"
An EEME kid receives a broken reed switch with his monthly EEME project. He turns a disappointing experience into an opportunity to exhibit grit, creativity and resourcefulness by creating his own LEGO reed switch. Way cool!
Check out his video of what he did and how he modified the LED circuit in Project Attraction...
This kind of grit and creativity is exactly what we want to foster with our lessons and projects!
BTW - yes, we did send him a new reed switch.
Thanks and happy building!
Jack "EEME Dad"
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