This is the first in a series of three posts featuring stories shared by the parents of 12 year-old Quin, aka Qtechknow, about his experiences as a young maker, meeting with and contributing to the Making community. We would love to invite more stories from parents or guardians about young makers. Feel free to Contact Steve@MakerEd.org
December 3, 2012, by Qtechknow’s parents
Our son, Quin, started with embedded electronics and Making about one and one-half years ago, when he was 10. He has absorbed every detail with excitement and joy. As his parents, supporting him in this adventure has been very fun for us, although somewhat intimidating, as electronics is not in our backgrounds at all. Along the way, Quin developed certain goals and we learned that we were actually able to help him, just by being parents.
Posting on Instructables
Initially, Quin explored Instructables.com, looking through the myriad of projects involving Arduino. After we spent several days looking around the site, he decided that he wanted to post a project, so we signed up for an account, not knowing what he could really post as he had just started with Arduino two weeks prior. At the age of ten, he was too young to have an account of his own, so we created one under his dad’s name (we checked in with Instructables about this, and they were OK as long as we promised to review all submissions for appropriate content before being posted).
Instructables promoted creativity, step by step planning, and an attitude of sharing ideas. He worked on writing very concise instructions and taking clear photos with our camera. He labored to get them just right before he showed them to us for final submission. We were unable to help with any of the electronics, but simply made grammatical suggestions here and there. It is fun to see the difference between his first post, which was well-received, and his later posts, and how much he has learned. He loved to read the comments and watch the number of views go up.
Another motivation is that there are many contests on the site. We did emphasize that the fun is in making the instructable, and not focusing on winning prizes (and that he would be competing against adults), but it still was a good way to learn how to plan ahead and make deadlines. He was so thrilled when his instructable was featured!
When Quin emailed the site with questions, Mathew Dalton, one of their staffers at the time, was tremendously helpful. We planned to meet up at Maker Faire, which was in a few weeks. Matthew invited us to tour the home office shortly after the Faire, and this turned out to be the best part of our vacation. They asked Quin to be a featured author and he couldn’t have been happier.
All of the staff at Instructables was very kind and most of all, showed interest and enthusiasm for his work and was very generous in showing him their projects. It was one of his favorite experiences.
Read part two here: