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Author Topic: What should I get for High School Electronics experiments?  (Read 62993 times)
KD6EVH
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Posts: 32




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« on: December 25, 2013, 02:19:30 AM »

I am a headmaster at a small British curriculum school in China. I happened to notice that the physics teacher is teaching electronics. He was teaching electronics on a chalkboard with no experimental equipment.
In the order it is presented in the book:
Electric fields,
current,
potential difference and resistance,
kirchhoff’s law
circuits
couloumbs law
capacitors,
induction
AC

As it happens, I have no equipment here at all. I was thinking of ordering a simple breadboard and resistor/capacitor kit online along with a few multimeters. However, there are a lot of kits, does anyone have any suggestions for simple electronics labs?

I did ask the physics teacher, he is all for this idea (who doesn’t want free toys).
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aka. AF7JA
KS2G
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Posts: 362




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« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2013, 04:58:25 AM »

I think you'll get more views and probably answers if you post this in either the Elmers or Misc forum.

73,
Mel - KS2G
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KAPT4560
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Posts: 76




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« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2013, 06:43:07 AM »

 My high school Electronics I (fundamentals) and more advanced Electronics II projects were going from a simple crystal radio to a 5-tube superhet. Understand this was 40 years ago. I enjoyed these classes.
 In basics, using a meter is important to 'see' what the circuit is doing and what changes affect it and understanding why the changes came about. Applying Ohms law/relationships and moving on to understanding resonance/reactance helped as well. Student familiarity with a meter and learning what one can learn from the tool is a great resource. Being able to 'visualize' what is happening in the circuit is one of those 'eureka' moments.
 Flip-flops and multivibrator circuit kits in the advanced class helped me understand basic logic circuits.
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W4KYR
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Posts: 445




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« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2013, 10:48:14 AM »

Crystal Radio Kit
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ONAIR
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Posts: 1732




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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 04:30:51 PM »

You might want to try some kind of walkie talkie project.  As a child I remember our teacher bringing walkie talkies into the classroom, and when I saw that I could talk to another kid in the next room right through the wall, my fascination with radio had begun!
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KJ7WC
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2014, 03:40:02 PM »

KD6EVH, your post suggests that the class doesn't cover diodes, transistors, or any crystals. What is the age of these children? What are the most complex components you aim to cover?

Edit: You say "high school." I tend to agree with the others. A practical kit, as simple as a crystal radio, would probably be the best approach.
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AE5QB
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Posts: 264




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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2014, 02:22:04 AM »

Can't say I recommend a crystal radio.  Even the best ones I've seen have been less than impressive in performance. With kids, they need to be wowed and challenged and entertained. I know that is difficult when talking about beginning electronics. What kind of money are you talking?  I agree that a meter is mandatory and if you can get an oscilloscope donated that is great also. Introduce them to electronics and wireless through fun activities like geocaching and foxhunting, that is if you can find the money to get a few GPSs. Fox hunting is fun and students can learn a great deal about electronics by building a controller.  Anything digital is good Arduino kits and robotics can be a lot of fun and challenging. My recommended ratio is 1 part theory to 2 parts activities.  I teach middle school kiddos and I have found that today's students really struggle with detail work and patience. Breadboards just didn't work for me as they couldn't get the wires in the right holes.  I ended up purchasing some SnapKits and the kids love them.  They snap together easily and are easy to measure the results.  Robotics is always popular and programming, while not electronics, is very good at building problem solving skills and logic sense.  If you want to go amateur radio, jump into the school club roundup.  Getting prepared for that is a lot of work and educational. 
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HURRICAINE
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2014, 06:56:15 AM »

In a Utopian Society, if you asked for something to use to teach with, you would be undulated by old used equipment that you could use to show them how basic circuits works.

Although this is an amateur radio web site, it would not be unreasonable for you to ask for used computer equipment, since all you really need to do is to be able to show them the printed circuit board and the connectors and let them disassemble and assemble old computers for practice.

There is not a lot of electronics's these days that are individual components, but even just taking apart the power supply for a computer is a learning experience.  You can show them actual toroid and how each part interacts with the others.

At one time, schools solicited donations through ad's placed in QST Magazine for their radio clubs.
Most of this technology has been replaced by a new found interest in computers.
Being a third world country, I'm sure that even a old Dell or Emachine with Window's XP would be a marvel to your students.

Buying kits and teaching theory would be ok in my opinion, if they were in fact interested in radio, but wouldn't do them much if any good if they were more interested in computers, video games or even cell phones.
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W3UEC
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Posts: 8




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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2014, 12:30:55 PM »

I don't suppose there are Radio Shack stores in China, albeit that the item below and almost everything else they sell comes from China. In any case you might look for a similar item to one of their "Electronics Learning Lab" setups.  For about $70 (US), there is a breadboard, a meter, battery power supply and a shipload of components. There are two workbooks starting with simple circuits all the way through digital. 


http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=28733516&retainProdsInSession=1

73 de W3UEC
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 615




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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2014, 01:08:42 PM »

I would suggest something like this:



That one's from Elenco (http://www.elenco.com/product/productlist/snap_circuits®=OTQ=) but other companies make similar sets. Since it's "high school" not primary school, you'd want something that wasn't too toy-like.

I also assume that some of the available sets are tailored to a more academic environment, not just "play." Some of them have built-in analogue meters and so forth.

You can find them either on the Internet, or in high-end (= "educational") toy stores in the U.S. My local independent electronics store also has a selection of these sets.

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W6RMK
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2014, 07:15:17 AM »

Electronics, or basic Electricity and Magnetism?  The topics you list seem more like the latter than the former.  So you're not going to be doing things like biasing transistors.. more like Ohms law, etc.

What sort of budget?
Are they "teaching to the test"?


Kirchoff's laws are all about series and parallel circuits, and there's nothing better than batteries and lightbulbs for that.  Add an inexpensive multimeter that can measure current, and you're all set. 

Electric fields are best explored by using resistive paper, conductive ink pens, and a multimeter for probing.  Salt water works too, but is messier.

Magnetic fields: nothing like a bunch of wire, iron filings, some iron cores, and cheap compasses.

As you get in to capacitors and such, what you're probably looking at is static electricity machines, a disassemblable Leyden jar, etc.

A box of small DC PM motors (like the ones in toys) are good as both showing simple voltage and current vs speed things, and to operate as generators, and show voltage and current outputs with various loads (e.g. lightbulbs or resistors).

Solar cells are another one.


If you want something that shows off L and C and resonant circuits, a small Tesla coil, where the primary capacitors are bottles with salt water (look up beer bottle capacitor) isn't a bad thing.   The TC will also give a chance to look at E fields from various shapes of the top electrode.   It is very hard to make good quantitative measurements from a TC, though, although you can easily demonstrate resonance and coupled resonators with a 555 type oscillator at 100-300 kHz and a suitable voltmeter as a detector.

Obviously, you want many small things that can be worked with individually, rather than one big demonstration equipment. You want to avoid the "now, sit quietly at your desk while I demonstrate the Oscilloscope" style of lecture.

Once you've got past basic circuits, if they have computers, I'd jump to the Arduino world. You can have them write simple programs to control LEDs, motors, etc.  You can use the Arduino as a data logger on the output of a solar cell, or they can make a solar cell tracking mount (with those DC motors).  That gets them into the "systems engineering" world of having to integrate mechanical, electrical, and software stuff.

If these students are sophisticated math-wise (e.g. they're taking calculus), there's a whole lot of things you can do with capacitors and resistors and making integrators and differentiators.  You really need an oscilloscope for most of this kind of thing, though.   Op-Amps are another possibility, especially if you stick with venerable parts like the 741 (or dual/quad versions TL082 TL084 and modern equivalents).  Get ones that are short circuit proof, and not too high gain, so you don't have to deal with oscillation (which is a real pain to diagnose without a scope)

If you want something "radio" related.. it's hard to tinker with simple radios. I echo the folks who say don't fool with a crystal radio.

What I would do is fool with microwaves.   Get some 10GHz motion detectors.  They're $5 (eBay from China).  You can do all sorts of physical optics experiments with a 10 GHz source (3cm wavelength).  Things like the dual slit experiment, reflections, etc.

There's also some really good demonstration stuff for radio in recent issues of IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine.  Dipoles for WiFi, desktop antenna ranges, etc.   All using very cheap consumer gear that's slightly modified. you can get a WiFi signal strength widget for $20, and there you go.. the sensor for an antenna range.

Another fun microwave toy is a Ku-band DBS dish and LNB.  LNBs are <$10. and coupled with a "tuning indicator" (basically an L-band power meter.. another $20), you can make a radiometer and see people walking in front, you can easily see the sun as it moves in front of the dish.

You might want to take a look at http://www.adafruit.com or http://www.sparkfun.com for ideas..
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K3NB
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« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2014, 02:13:23 PM »

I am a headmaster at a small British curriculum school in China. I happened to notice that the physics teacher is teaching electronics. He was teaching electronics on a chalkboard with no experimental equipment.
In the order it is presented in the book:
Electric fields,
current,
potential difference and resistance,
kirchhoff’s law
circuits
couloumbs law
capacitors,
induction
AC

As it happens, I have no equipment here at all. I was thinking of ordering a simple breadboard and resistor/capacitor kit online along with a few multimeters. However, there are a lot of kits, does anyone have any suggestions for simple electronics labs?

I did ask the physics teacher, he is all for this idea (who doesn’t want free toys).


There're likely to be kits that can be purchased online that cover most all those areas, but something that comes to mind immediately can be cobbled together with things you might find around the house:

For a demonstration of current induction (Lenz' law), you need a couple of inches of copper tubing and a supermagnet (small, flat disc type) you simply drop through the copper tube.  This induces a current which slows down the magnet enough to be appreciated in real time.  Pretty cool.  There's a video on youtube somewhere of this. 

Get a couple inches of wire, a AA battery, a 2 or 3 inch steel bolt and that same magnet and make a motor - bolt head to magnet, battery to other end of bolt, wire connects battery to magnet (thank Michael Faraday for that).

Copper wire and iron filings and a battery can take up some time.

Very cheap, very visual, simple, and it helps cement the principles in mind.

have fun.

Norm
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KD0REQ
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Posts: 839




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« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2014, 07:43:41 PM »

all these fundamentals were discovered and explored with little more than a compass, some wire, a battery or two, iron filings, and a iron bar or nail.

90 percent of all the parts we buy here are made in China, you no doubt have the equivalent of Akibahra near at hand (although I hear finding a particular address in China is needle in a haystack.) it should be no problem to scratch up things cheaply for more interesting hands-on demo stuff.
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