Although most kids can't get enough of the world's never-ending supply of gadgets, they're typically less excited about the components that they comprise. Sure, they love their iPod, their smartphone, their flat-screen television and their stereo system - but do they really understand what work goes into to making these products work? The answer is probably no. If they did, they might have a greater appreciation for gadgets and may even get excited by the processes that make them work so efficiently. As such, it's a great idea to get some electrical experiments going at home...
Before you start anything though, ensure your and your child's complete safety by gaining a basic understanding of how the components that you plan to use work. Check the internet, check out some books from the library and ask any electricians you know to help you out. After all, if you know what you're dealing with, you're much more likely to handle the components with care. Next, you should do a quick internet search for distributors of electronic components. UK companies will probably deliver your purchase quicker than those based overseas, so it's worth sticking to British distributors - especially if you've set a particular day aside to get your experiments going.
If you're now wondering what you can make, well the opportunities are endless - but you can easily narrow it down to a handful.
A Working Lighthouse
This is one of the most popular experiments you'll see undertaken in schools. Making a working lighthouse (albeit miniature) is very exciting for kids and really gives them a chance to see first-hand what electronic components can do. To make a light that you can switch on/off and programme sequences into, you'll need parts like diodes, capacitors, resistors, DIL sockets, strip-boards and transistors.
This one is most ideal for younger kids; those who you don't really want handling sockets or diodes. Instead, all you need to gather is a small light-bulb, a size C battery and some tin foil - simple! All you have to do is make a thick strip out of the tin foil, perhaps folding it several times until you make a long, thin strip that's fairly solid. If you place the battery at one of the strip and the metal base of the light-bulb at the other, the bulb should light up. It may seem fairly boring to you, but to a little kid, it'll be like having a magic power!
Fun Lie-Detector Kit
This is a perfect experiment for budding spies and policemen; teaching them about electronics, whilst helping them indulge their passion for detective work! These kits can be made in a simple tin, perhaps one that previously held mints or sweeties.
In addition, you'll need some LED lights, a transistor, several different resistors, a circuit board, a 9V battery and some other household items. You should find full instructions via a simple internet search. Once you're done building it, make some up some silly stories to see if your son or daughter can catch you out or not. They'll love it and they'll learn something at the same time - it's a win-win!