EEME: Teaching ElectronicsBy Jack Pien
My dad was an accountant and I remember when I was about 7 years old, in a fit of uncontrollable curiosity, I took apart all of his calculators. Instead of becoming angry, my parents became very supportive of my curiosity for engineering and more generally of my curiosity to understand how things work.
As a parent myself I wanted to make sure other parents had a tool that allowed them to effectively foster engineering curiosity in their children (maybe even saving a few calculators along the way). I also wanted something fun to do with my kids that instilled a deeper knowledge of how things worked.
I founded EEME (pronouced E-Me), which is an acronym for electrical engineer mechanical engineer. EEME makes hands-on projects that are paired with online curricula to teach kids how to build the technology around them. I believe engineering is critical to the future of our kids. The goal of EEME is to stimulate the future engineers of tomorrow.
Each month, we ship projects to families who then set aside time to watch our online videos, which not only shows them how to build the projects but also teaches them the underlying electronics lessons. With each project we try to accomplish the following:
• Create a hands-on project that is engaging and simple to build
• Ensure the project is buildable with components that are economical for families to purchase
• Teach electrical engineering concepts that are reinforced by building the project
• Create a video curriculum that balances building and teaching
• Explain the concepts in an intuitive manner
Explaining the concepts has become the most illuminating challenge. I intuitively understood the engineering concepts, but explaining them in a concise manner was another story, especially to an audience of 7 to 12-year olds.
Take our Project Genius Light as an example: nightlights and SmartLights inspired us to design the project – something simple in functionality – a light that brightens in darkness but dims in daylight. With a handful of electronic components such as resistors, LEDs, wires and photoresistors, Project Genius Light materialized with a breadboard to connect the components together. No soldering required.
I could not default to hiding behind intricate equations and formulas. I was forced to have to explain current, voltage and resistance, with metaphors and analogies, constantly balancing the act of explaining in an intuitive manner while not taking extensive liberties with the actual truth of how it all worked. As an engineer, I am too accustomed to just doing without the need to explain clearly.
As a result of EEME, I have actually become a better engineer, diving deeper into my own understanding of electronics.
Check out some of the EEME videos by signing up for free at EEME's website.
Jack Pien is an entrepreneur and software engineer living in California's Silicon Valley. He is the founder of EEME making hands-on projects paired with online curricula to teach kids electronics. When not working on software, Jack can be found with a soldering iron putting together telepresence robots. When not working on technology, Jack can be found in his wood shop making furniture or in his darkroom developing and printing old-school traditional film.