Maker Parent Stories, Part Three: Teaching Experiences

This is the final 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. The first post can be found here, and the second, here.  We would love to invite more stories from parents or guardians about young makers.  Please feel free to Contact us at to share your experiences!~ Steve

December 12, 2012

Guest post by Qtechknow’s Parents

Quin wanted to teach.

Quin has been comfortable in front of a class ever since his second grade teacher had them present two minute oral reports.  All the parents were somewhat concerned that this was the assignment at such a young age, but sure enough, starting early in a comfortable environment helped him gain confidence in public speaking.  His third grade teacher had Quin return to her class, year after year, to teach origami and Power Point to her kids.  They were always enthralled to have a “big kid” come to teach them.

With his new love of electronics, he wanted to teach Arduino to kids and adults.  We frequently check online for new opportunities for him, and while in LA attending a summer course, we discovered the L.A. Hackjam and signed up.

It was an amazing event planned by Tara Tiger Brown and the L.A. Makerspace crew, teaching more than eighty kids many different types of programming.  You can read about the event on their blog: “LA Youth Hack Jam Was A Kidtacular Success!

He introduced himself to Tara and showed her a project he had brought.  She immediately said that he should meet Michelle Leonhart of Crash Space.  He sought her out, introduced himself, and chatted with her for about ten minutes.  Within a few days, Michelle had emailed and asked him to teach a class.  What a shocker!

He started busily preparing and decided to teach “Intro to Arduino and ArduSensors,” his plug and play inventions.  We had taken a beginner Arduino course, as well as a few others for family vacations at Sparkfun in Boulder, CO, and we all had such a great time learning and meeting their staff.  With encouragement from Linz Craig and Jeff Branson, both in SparkFun’s Education Department, Quin obtained their Power Point presentation, which is available on their website for free.  He started modifying it to fit his subject matter and time constraints, and added more pictures and information about ArduSensors.  This is one of the wonderful aspects of the “Open Source” community; sharing and developing, and sharing again.  He practiced on four of his friends, and learned that some things took longer than expected, and how to keep the class rolling and people interested.  He then taught the four hour course at Crashspace in LA with about 20 kids, parents, and other adults and had a fantastic time. (Crash Space’s blog post: Qtechknow Shares his Love of Arduino with the Children of Los Angeles.) He was literally high for weeks afterward.

(picture courtesy of Crash Space)


His latest class was actually held in our garage just a month ago.  We were the very, very lucky recipients of a stop on the “West Coast Tour” of SparkFun.  Linz and Jeff came with all their laptops and SparkFun Inventor’s Kits with plans to teach 15 of Quin’s friends all day.  This was very fortuitous as one of the things Quin really wanted was lots of friends to do Arduino with.  Linz surprised Quin that morning by asking him if he wanted to teach, and he jumped at the chance.  He really enjoyed teaching with Linz and Jeff adding lots of helpful input.  SparkFun has been so encouraging to Quin in all his endeavors and teaching and we couldn’t be more grateful.


Continuing the teaching momentum, recently Quin was asked to be the TA for Mark Freuenfelder (editor-in-chief of MAKE: magazine and co-editor of Boing Boing) for a class, “How to Control Things and Make Noise with an Arduino” in March for LA Makerspace.  They have already sold out at the $100 level for this class on their kickstarter campaign!!

All in all, Quin’s journey through this last year and a half has been incredible in so many ways.  We have met and befriended the most wonderful engineers, educators, and mentors.  As his parents, our overarching goals are to keep him challenged, to always enjoy learning, and to keep balance in his life with sports, music, and friends and family.  Learning to help him navigate his Maker world has been exciting and fun for all of us.


Note: Just today, Quin is featured in a photo on the White House Blog post “Making Makers in Los Angeles” with Tara Tiger Brown of the LA Makerspace.  I hope you’ve enjoyed these inspirational posts, and are moved to share your own family experiences with Making and the Maker community. You never know where it will lead to! ~Steve







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