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Teaching Kids About How Electronics Work

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Your child spends hours a day staring at a screen—but have you ever talked about what's behind it? Stimulating his curiosity about the tech that goes into his toys is a smart idea: He'll gain new respect for his favorite gadgets, and maybe even grow up to help build them (a great career option). Some ideas on how to start:

Think inside the box. Buy a couple of kid-friendly kits for a hands-on lesson in how electronics work, advises Robin Raskin, former editor of Family PC magazine and founder of Living in Digital Times, which organizes tech conferences and summits nationwide. She's a big fan of the MaKey MaKey Original Invention Kit ($50; amazon.com and toy stores), which comes with a basic circuit board and instructions on how to transform it into a video game, a keyboard, and other cool stuff. Radio Shack Snap Kits (about $11 and up; radioshack.com) let kids build flying saucers, radios, and more.

Go to a geek-a-palooza. Maker Faire weekends—held yearly in San Francisco and New York City—attract nearly 50,000 kids and adults, who learn how to solder, take apart and put together gadgets, figure out how they function, and more (for info, visit makerfaire.com). Or look into similar programs a little closer to home at local science museums and schools—the Michigan Council of Women in Technology, for instance, hosts numerous girls' camps and events designed to get gals all gaga for gigabytes.

Get wonky on the web. “I love a website called How Stuff Works (howstuffworks.com)—it shows you everything from how your computer to your hair dryer operate,” says Raskin. (Note: This site contains mature content.) She also likes brainpop.com, which has a whole kid-themed section on electronics.

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