Kids and Teens today, thanks to the internet, are able to find all kinds of things online about how to build this or fix that or improve this and because of their insatiable appetite to learn they can find some pretty amazing ideas. One such company really hones in on the whole DIY (Do It Yourself) phenomenon with their MAKE magazine and website. I think this is probably one of the better magazines to invest in for your child if you know they like building things but also learning how things get built in the first place. The magazine and website shows you how to build your own robots or gadgets using things around the house.
Kids, by nature, want to learn and they want to go out and explore and parents who encourage them to explore usually wind up with a kid who has learned a lot on their own about how the world and things work. You can not rely on schools today to teach your child everything, or for that matter, inspire them to find what they enjoy doing so you must look for things that drive them. If you find that your child enjoys play-doh and you see they are really good about creating very realistic art work then to hell with all the mess they make in the process. Put your feelings aside and focus on the fact that your child is creating something amazing, and making a little mess in the process. What artists do you know who ever kept a clean place while working on something great? None, that’s just my point. If your son or daughter loves a sport and it’s because they want to do it (and not some over bearing parent making them like so many who do) then you should find programs that encourage them to get better.
As your child gets older and hits the teen years they are going to want to explore even more and that means spending more time going out and buying stuff or visiting places that have people who share the same interests. Getting home after work shouldn’t be about staying home and relaxing, what it means to the kid is that they should be able to rely on the parent to take them where they need to go. The kid I’m about to introduce showed a pattern in his upbringing that needs to be brought to light and what that meant for a kid like him growing up.
It all Started with a book on How Things Work
I can relate to this kid because I used to have so many books growing up that explained how the world worked. One of my favorite books to read was this 1000 answers to science questions book I had. It was huge and had pictures for every answer it provided. I would sit and read and re-read that book. I think I still have it somewhere but it was books like that that my grandma would buy me that taught me alot about science, nature, weather, the human body, and so much more. You can see a trend here of the impact grandparents can have.
Clay Haight said that his grandpa bought him a book that explained how things worked and how to repair everyday appliances; very helpful skills for saving money. Using all the knowledge he learned about how to put things together and take them apart he built on that to create his own things at home. The advancement in being able to print things at home allow kids like Clay to be able to create something on the computer and then print it out at home. This simple power has allowed so many people around the world to share their own 3-D projects. In an article I written previously about a teen who helped their friend by printing out a hand for him since he didn’t have any fingers goes to show the power of what 3-D printing has done for the world. You can also learn about all the advancements in 3D printing from 3ders.org.
Once Clay got a firm grasp on how things work and put together and taken apart he could then apply that to electronics and robotics which he did. He taught himself programming with the help of the popular Arduino boards, which his first one happened to be a Uno. Then he moved up to Mega, Esplora, Mini, Ardweeny, Mintduino, and then even his own home-built Arduino board. He expanded his knowledge and understanding of programming by learning what these little boards were capable of doing and because he was just a kid he had all the time he needed to spend countless hours seeing how they all fit together on a breadboard.
Inspiration Meets Action
Being inspired is one thing but knowing how to take it to the next level is another. If you look at what Clay was teaching himself, probably with books by Michael McRoberts Beginning Arduino and Brian Evan’s Beginning Arduino Programming, you start to get an idea of how easy it can be to learn how to make your own gadgets. Another simple way he could have learned was just by using YouTube, where there are thousands of tutorial videos on just about everything, including how to program an arduino board and Getting Acquainted with Arduino. These two videos just by themselves can help anyone get familiar with Arduino and how to use one all for free.
Clay took all the knowledge he learned from those materials (and when I say “those” I don’t mean them in the literal sense, I don’t know what exact resources, besides MAKE, that he actually used) and then applied them into one project. That project being to create his own version of Google Glass. All the articles online about Clay explain that he even created the frame of his device with his own 3D printerbot simple, something he saved his money up for which the cheapest one runs for only $349.
Clay’s practice with his boards allowed him to understand what parts he needed in order to build his own google glass. He used a Arduino Esplora and Arduino LCD screen, which is similar to this one but not the same model, in order to build the whole unit. The senors on the Esplora allow him to speak to his device which allow him to be able to bring up his calendar, local map, temperature, weather, and even his schedule. Not bad for a little device that costs way less than the $1500 price tag that a regular pair of Google Glass cost. You can watch a video below to see what his final product looks like. For a 13 year old it’s very impressive.
There is no age limit for being an Entrepreneur
The story of Clay and how he took what he learned on his own shows a perfect example that you don’t need to be an adult if you want to build things on your own. Many people think they need to go to school, get all these expensive degrees before you can really jump into business. They believe this because they think that you need to know everything about business, which they believe business will teach you and (if this is the first time hearing it) that is not their job. Their job is to provide with you the basic foundation of how businesses work and how they operate but they do not teach you how to innovate and build the next greatest company. It is also important to understand that you don’t need a business degree to start your own company either, infact there is not even any connection between those who graduate top of their class and success later on. So why go to business school? The best business program you can enroll in is starting your own company on your own and learning step by step.
There are kids all over the world now who have made the news like Clay for creating things on their own and then there are teenagers like this guy who just sold an app to yahoo for $30 million dollars. What makes these kids different from everyone else? They didn’t just sit there saying they wanted to do something and never doing it. They worked hard at it and kept at it even when they made mistakes. They went out and tried it and they kept at it until they got it right.
Infact, the teenager who sold his app for $30 million, which many believe was overpriced and not worth it, only got that because he was persistent in getting his app reviewed by a famous website. It was the influencer effect of that website that caught the eye of Yahoo which led to the $30 million dollar offer. There is always a cause and effect (chained linked effect) of how something small turns into something big. You could be working on the next big thing but if you do not know how to get it into the hands of influencers then your idea will continue to sit there going unappreciated until you do something about it.
Nothing happens without hard work so for all your well-wishers who want to be entrepreneurs and strike it rich nothing happens just sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Take it from this 13 year old who sat in his room and worked on his projects until he got them right and for that he now has fame to show for all his hard work. I’m sure the offers (and money) will soon start to pour in for him. Just remember though that majority of the kids like Clay and those that run their own businesses they are all self-taught.
To read more about Clay click on the links below and how to get started with learning Arduino or learn how electronics work
MAKE DIY Yourself Google Glass
Build your own Arduinos
You can purchase Arduino boards from Radio Shack, Frys Electronics, and any electronics store. There are many online stories that carry them as well. You can check out the main site for Arduino and learn how to get started from the main source.
Learn Electronics the Easy Way with LittleBits, the lego version of electronics.
Find out how LIttleBits is encouraging more kids, and adults, to learn how to build electronic components just like they would a Lego house or ship in another article I wrote about.