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resources for young makers Resources for Young Makers

A friend of mine recently asked my advice. Apparently his 12-year-old nephew is turning out to be quite the geek. As my friend described his nephew’s love to take stuff apart and make something new with it, I could tell we had the beginnings of a fine young maker.

The challenge is that the boy’s parents are not necessarily so technical. They know that he built something out of an Xbox and laptop, but they cannot begin to explain what it is. They’ve tried to support him by getting him some kits from Radio Shack, but he wasn’t really challenged by them.

My friend turned to me for some suggestions for challenging kits that would not “do any damage to the house.” So here is my list of resources for young makers

1. Let’s Make Robots

letsmakerobots com 280 Resources for Young Makers
Being a robotics enthusiast myself, I had to lead with the Let’s Make Robots website. If you think your own young maker would like robots, this is a great place to start. Joining Let’s Make Robots is free and they do have some younger members. There are lots of supportive people and example projects on the site, such as the Start Here robot project, pictured below.

aginstthewall Resources for Young Makers

2. MAKE Magazine

make Resources for Young MakersMAKE is another good resource. They have subscription print and online versions, as well as free projects posted on the Make Projects website. They also sell kits and parts at the Maker Shed. Projects and articles are organized by topic; there’s something for everyone.

makezine topics Resources for Young Makers

3. Instructables

FZF9H1RFD80X5P3.LARGE Resources for Young Makers

Another great website is Instructables. This is a free site with loads of projects. Just about anything you can imagine, all submitted by members.

Since the content is member-submitted, the quality does vary a bit. There are many very good step-by-step projects, listing parts and materials needed.

Instructables even runs contests to encourage makers to share their knowledge.
Projects are organized into various topics, and the whole site is a searchable wealth of collected practical knowledge.

Instructables explore Resources for Young Makers

4. Adafruit

wired 20110316 074410 Resources for Young Makers

Another wonderful company is Adafruit. They are an open source hardware electronics company, with a strong social network. Adafruit was started by Limor Fried (aka Ladyada), pictured on the cover of Wired magazine to the left.

Limor started the company to create a “place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels.” That’s an admirable goal, and they are a driving force in today’s maker movement.

Adafruit specifically created some skill badges for young people at the Adafruit Academy. The badges are like Scouting badges, except on subjects like soldering, using a multimeter, programming, and much more.
There is also the Lady Ada website, which
includes projects and resources to help you make stuff.

5. DIY.org

diyorg kid can be a maker Resources for Young Makers

Another site is diy.org. Kids can join (with parents’ assistance) and do projects and challenges to earn skill badges.

Unlike Instructables, MAKE, or Adafruit, the whole site is designed around kids.

They even created a video “anthem,” encouraging kids not only to build, make, hack and grow, but also to share what they learned with others on the site.

There are plenty of other resources out there, far too many to list. However, I would recommend that young makers pick just one or two places to start with. Finding a good resource and a supporting maker community is the best way to start. Hopefully, something in the list above to appeal to the maker in your family.

Andrew Terranova

Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and an electronics and robotics hobbyist. He is an active member of the Let’s Make Robots community, and handles public relations for the site.
Andrew has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children’s Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Learning Center in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.


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