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Spring into breadboarding

Spring into breadboarding

photo 2

Casey Shea, attended our Art of Tinkering workshop this week and showed us a nifty little springboard he uses with his students.  It's an idea I can't wait to try out with our circuit boards activity here in the Tinkering Studio. I particularly liked the way Casey thought about using them in the classroom -- as part construction project, part intro-to-breadboarding, having his students first build the springboards themselves and then build circuits with what they had built.  Here's what he had to say -

“The springboard was inspired by some donated old electronics equipment. Apparently before the advent of ICs, springboards were commonly used for prototyping circuits. In my Project Make class, I start our look at electronics with Squishy Circuits and use some models similar to your Circuit Boards that are set up to do some of the activities in Make:Electronics.

I found the leap to modern breadboards to be difficult for many students, they are tiny and the hidden connection points make them mysterious. First attempts are rarely successful and troubleshooting even simple circuits is difficult for my old eyes. I love the Sparkfun super-sized components, but I haven't ever found the time to make a set. 

We use little springboards like the one I brought for flashing led circuits using transistors and capacitors. When I first starting going down this road I went overboard and had little chip sockets with jumper wires made so that the students could use 555 timer chips, etc. Eventually it dawned on me that this was making things much more complicated, exactly the opposite of what I was looking for. When all goes well, it is a tool that a student might only use for 20 minutes, but it makes the following couple of days easier for me and for them.

Here's a link to the 123 article in Make, it has some pictures of the original boards and how I hacked them before deciding to make our own version."