Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hands-on soldering tonight at the DFL - not a complete success, but isn't that a good lesson, too?

Engineering is a challenging, demanding enterprise.
We learned that tonight with the Drawdio workshop run by the incomparable Kevin Osborn, with his son and his son's girl friend, and attended by ten highly motivated teens.

We turned on our soldering stations, melted some plastic (phew!) and had some fun attaching transistors, capacitators, resistors, and a very finicky speaker. Then we tested it. uh-oh. Not all worked as planned.

The time flew by and pretty soon parents were peeking in and wondering when we would be done. We wrapped it up by making some tough decisions: should we try to fix our Drawdio boards ourselves or have Kevin take them home to fix and return to us? Some chose one route, others, another. All choices were valid.

This reminded me so much of the blog post I am entering on the YALSA Hub blog on Sept. 3 called, "Taking Risks is Encouraged by the Maker Movement." (Subscribe and wait for it to post.)  In it, I talk about the awesome book, Unbored, by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Larsen, and how they emphasize taking appropriate risks. I was reminded of the wonderful advent of commuter rail service to our town and sending my youngest daughter off on the train to Boston with her friend, on her own. Practicing with me first, then taking the plunge of going on their own.... Learning how to take risks, not be afraid of failure: getting lost, missing a connection, etc. and this was before the advent of cell phones.

Back to the engineering workshop. Tonight, we practiced. It was a bit frustrating to leave the program without our Drawdio to show off. Does that mean we were unsuccessful? I don't think so. Physics is an unsentimental enterprise. Solder, circuits, material density, connectivity... it all plays a role in the completion of this project. Small idiosyncrasies make all the difference. We learned the vagaries of soldering, how it is important to test before moving forward... Practice makes perfect. All these things are good.

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