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Encourage your kids to become Minty Geeks!

26 July 2012

With all this serious talk about the lack of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills among our youngsters, and the dire consequences for our economy, it's refreshing news that there are people out there who are really working hard to do something about it.

DPA editor, Les Hunt
DPA editor, Les Hunt

My colleague, Alistair Winning, who edits sister title Electronic Product Design, discovered this little gem, which he describes here:

I don’t think I have ever heard anyone contradict the statement that the country needs to attract more students into engineering disciplines, Alistair writes. There are various initiatives, both private and public already being implemented and many more in the pipeline. Most of these initiatives concentrate on trying to get students interested in STEM subjects at an early age. The best and most successful of these are those that fully immerse the child such as Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi is mainly aimed at teaching students software skills, although it does have a connector that gives access to the MCU pins and allows the addition of breakout boards.

A more hardware-centric platform aimed at students has just been launched by Rapid Electronics. 'Minty Geek' is a concept that puts the fun back into building circuits and working with electronic components. It is intended to give students an understanding of what resistors, capacitors and LEDs actually do, and to give the satisfaction of having made something using those components. 

The Minty Geek Electronics Lab 101 kit contains all the components required to build three different projects: a cookie jar alarm, lie detector and egg timer. The components – including transistors, resistors, capacitors, LEDs, relays, switches, speakers and battery connector – are labelled for easy identification. No soldering is needed – the kit includes a breadboard in which all components can be inserted. 

Other kits are coming soon to Rapid, giving members of the Minty Geek community the chance to develop their skills and understanding. The kits are ideal for educational use and fantastic for complete beginners. 

Personally I love this concept. As well as students, there are many hobbyists out there who have become interested in electronics, and especially programming, through platforms like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, who would be interested in a concept like Minty Geek to gain a basic knowledge of circuits.

This would allow them to start building their own breakout boards for those platforms. Rapid Electronics has already indicated there are more kits in the pipeline. I’m hoping future ones will have breadboards that can interface to these popular open source platforms to tap into existing talent and give students an insight into both hardware and software.

If you want to learn more about Minty Geek and get your kids doing something useful during the summer holidays, click here.

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