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My daughter Jane told me she wanted to build something “electronic,” and luckily, I had a sample of the Solder: Time kit. It looked like a fun thing to make, and it turned to be so.

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It’s a large digital wristwatch and the $35 kit (available in Maker Shed) contains everything you need except the tools (a soldering iron and wire cutters).

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Jane is eight years old so I decided to do all of the soldering, but she enjoyed loading the printed circuit board with components.

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She loved the way the components looked and asked a lot of good questions: What is a resistor? Why do resistors have different colored bands on them? What is a capacitor? What is an integrated circuit? I answered the questions as well as I could.

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It took about 45 minutes to put the watch together. I feel like Jane got a lot out of doing this. Maybe she is ready to try a little soldering on our next project. Do any of you have kids aged eight or younger who can solder?

Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder is the editor-in-chief of Make magazine, and the founder of the popular Boing Boing blog.


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Comments

  1. John says:

    I started soldering at around that age… some silly cheap soldering iron and a base made out of a plate and a standard sponge too.

    There were many small burns at first, just like when you start writing with a pen and you make mistakes more, etc. but I learnt how to hold the iron better as I went, and my joints got better…

    She will be fine :)

  2. macegr says:

    Everyone loves this watch, even if they didn’t build it. Gotta love what Mark at Spikenzielabs is doing here. Mine gets comments all the time, while in flight sometimes too :)

    1. I put a “This is not a bomb” sticker from the Maker’s Notebook on the back of mine. :)

  3. Robert Merithew says:

    Great project, and great that she initiated it! Re: soldering – at this age, I think it’s all about her interest and maturity (i.e. is she able to take the safety precautions seriously — eye protection, putting the soldering iron into its holder right away rather than hanging onto it with a few fingers while fetching the next part, etc.) My 6 and 8-year-old girls started soldering around ages 5-6 (with lots of help at first). With the 8-year-old, I’ve let her do all the soldering herself on a project similar to this one (except for the IC, because I was worried about her overheating it). They’ve not had a single burn, which probably means I’m being overcautious…

  4. not really me says:

    My daughter started soldering at eight. To be fair we have also work with her on cooking and cutting in the kitchen for many years so she is very comfortable with the personal injury possibilities. Overall I think it’s great to get them started as early as you feel comfortable, of course you always want to monitor them closely, but I don’t think anyone has ever gone to the hospital over a soldering iron burn. Just my opinion though.

  5. Matt says:

    My daughter did her first soldering project when she was 7 years old with the LED Blinky Heart kit. She even got to debug a bridged solder joint, which was a fun puzzle for her!

  6. Chie Fujioka says:

    I started soldering around the age of 7-8 as well. Didn’t have much supervision but rarely burned myself. Better ventilation would have been a plus.

  7. Peter says:

    My father was a tv repairman and taught me to solder when I was about 8. With supervision it shouldnt be a problem. With kids that young you have to make sure they do it safely (eye protection is a must), understand the dangers, and of course, only do it with mom or dad. There are tons of kits out there, but you can always take stuff apart. See what makes that stupid toy hamster work and then teach her how to make a frankenhamster or whatever.

  8. Xaetognath says:

    My 9 year old started soldering at 8 at Maker Faire Detroit. She has since become a very good solderer, and makes good, clean, connections that rarely need cleanup.

  9. Both my daughters learned to solder at the ages of 5 & 7 at Maker Faire. They loved it, and have been soldering ever since.

    1. Mark Frauenfelder says:

      OK, next project, Jane solders!

      1. I’ve taught dozens of little kids to solder, some as young as six years old at the Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire this past fall (you can see the back of me in the last photo on this wrap-up blog post: http://blog.makezine.com/2011/10/23/pittsburgh-mini-maker-faire-today/), and just last week at HackPittsburgh where a youngster (6-8 years old I think) built a through-hole Arduino clone called a Freeduino (http://store.nkcelectronics.com/freeduino-arduino-diecimila-compatible-board-complete-kit.html) with no problems. Really the most challenging part is having them pay enough attention to what they’re grabbing and what they’re poking with the rather hot iron to avoid burning themselves or others.

  10. [...] Fun Beginner’s Electronic Project – The Solder: Time LED Watch @ MAKE. Mark and his daughter built the Solder: Time LED watch… My daughter Jane told me she wanted to build something “electronic,” and luckily, I had a sample of the Solder: Time kit. It looked like a fun thing to make, and it turned to be so. [...]