Since 2013, the United States has made a huge push for the advancement of STEM Education in schools.
This push has not only created jobs for teachers, but it’s also opened up new opportunities for educators to obtain the necessary tools to teach their students effectively.
The US government stands committed to providing students at every level with the skills they need to excel in the high-paid, highly-rewarding fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
To date, this nation-wide effort has garnered over $700 million in public-private partnerships and hit major milestones in the following priority areas:
- Building a CEO-led coalition to leverage the unique capacities of the private sector
- Preparing 100,000 new and effective STEM teachers over the next decade
- Showcasing and bolstering federal investment in STEM
- Broadening participation to inspire a more diverse STEM talent pool
Source: The White House
Here at Circuit Specialists, we’re HUGE believers in the necessity of STEM Education from an early age. The trend is indisputable. Computers, technology, software, even robots, are here to stay. The market is headed so strongly in that direction, that it would be an injustice to not properly prepare our children for it.
This reason, among others, has been the driving force for our Cir-Kit Service. This service allows teachers, tutors, and private classrooms the ability to order parts in bulk, and receive them in the form of a pre-sorted electrical education experience.
To make things easy, we put together this short list of resources typically found in an electrical STEM education workspace.
Most of these components are readily available from Circuit Specialists, and each kit is personally constructed to suit the unique needs of your classroom.
Computers / Laptops
This is the foundation of your success as a teacher or learner in the electronics field. Computers open up a world of possibility in the form of open source software and information. Now, more than ever, people are producing programs that they are giving away for FREE! A lot of the hardware is open source too, so finding parts that are compatible with your project is also easier than ever before!
Not only are computers essential for the programming side of electronics, computers are also an extremely useful research tool. Computers allow students the to connect with learners across the globe, enabling them to collaborate, ask questions, and even advance others work!
Computers may be one of the biggest parts of the lab’s budget, but the investment will pay off over years of constantly up-to-date resources. If you need a low-cost solution, a little bit of code can turn a Raspberry Pi into fully-functional, internet ready computer station.
Once the computer portion of the lab has been addressed, it’s time to start stocking the essential “little bits.” This includes your Breadboards, Resistors, Jumper Wires, Capacitors, Transistors, LEDs, Relays, Wire Spools, Power Supply, Protoboards, and things of that nature.
A well-stocked supply kit empowers your students with an opportunity to get hands-on experience with some of the most common electrical components. In addition, it might be worth looking into a set of Electrical Practice Kits or Circuit Scribe Kits for the class.
Once you’ve got all the parts, we’ll need something to put them together! A classroom set of low cost, yet reliable Soldering Irons, Soldering Stations, and Desoldering tools allow students to dive deep into the construction and deconstruction of circuit boards. Good soldering equipment inspires lessons such as teardowns, repairs, and rapid prototyping.
An excellent soldering station for classroom use is the Circuit Specialists Premier 75w Bundle. Though, if you want to consolidate the entire soldering / desoldering process into one tool, we recommend the robust Blackjack BK8000 All-in-One Soldering Station.
Electronic Test Equipment
Electronic test equipment is foundational to your STEM Education lab. In the beginning, it’s critical to have enough Multimeters for each student to use; or use in pairs. These enable students to learn how current flows, how voltage and resistance are related, and even diagnose / troubleshoot circuit errors.
Once the multimeter equation has been solved, your lab may want to look into getting a couple Oscilloscopes, Function Generators, and maybe even a Programmable DC Electronic Load (especially if you’re studying batteries / alternative energy).
One easy solution to a few of these demands is a classroom set of Bakerboard analog trainers. These complete learning tools feature an oscilloscope, function generator, and resistance tester all built right onto a massive breadboard space!
Microcontrollers / SBC’s
Going back to the “open-source hardware” concept, this article would be almost useless without mentioning some of the massively successful microcontrollers and single board computers. These credit card sized devices allow students to explore programming in a few different languages, as well as solve complex functions with a globally supported platform
Arduino Software: Download
Raspberry Pi Software: Download
Particle Photon: Download
But most importantly, your lab will need…
Learners are what make Electrical STEM Education so incredible! A generation of students that love video games, computers, and were raised with their hands on electronic devices; it usually does not take much to grab their attention. Most students, once introduced, get hooked on the idea that they can design a program to do just about anything.
If you are a teacher with an opportunity to share Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math with students, please give us a call at 1-800-528-1417.
Our team of electronics fanatics will do all we can to ensure your students have a one of a kind experience that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.