Kids are naturally curious, and taking apart electronics together is one of many ways to help feed their curiosity and to encourage STEM in your house. It’s easy to be disconnected from our electronics and expect them to work. The next generation of engineers, inventors, and dreamers all have to start somewhere. Having the opportunity to open up electronics takes away the mystery, and shows kids the nuts and bolts. Not sure where to start? Follow this guide, and you’ll have everything you need to start taking electronics apart with your kids.
How To Safely Take Apart Electronics With Kids
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Show your kids the world by opening up the inside of electronics and letting them explore how it works! If you’re not a techy person, these repair guides can help you discover what you are seeing!
- Wear safety goggles, and you never know when something will go flying. Both adults and kids should wear protective eyewear.
- Remove all batteries, both regular or rechargeable. Batteries contain acid that is strong and can burn your skin or give you a big shock.
- Remove the power cord- When my kids are younger doing this activity, I always removed the power cord with wire cutters for safety’s sake. If we were taking apart a desktop computer, I complelty removed the power supply.
- Safety Goggles– Both my child and I always wear safety goggles whenever we are working with tools. End the project and try another time if they refuse to wear goggles, it’s too easy for items to go flying.
- Screwdrivers– You need a variety of screwdriver sizes both in flat and Phillip’s head. It can also be handy to have a set of hex screwdrivers as many electronics do use them. Make sure to have several tiny flat and Phillip’s head screwdrivers. I often come across hidden tiny screws.
- Hammer– You’re not smashing into it, but sometimes an extra tap or two on the end of a screwdriver can help to loosen a stuck screw.
- Pliers and Wire Cutters– Needle nose pliers are one of my favorite tools to use. Learning to cut wires can be satisfying! I have made some fun friendship bracelets from the colorful wires I’ve removed.
- A Tray– You’ll want an easy place to put screws and pieces, so they don’t roll everywhere
Beginner Ideas of Items To Take Apart
These work well for beginners and are so incredibly satisfying to take apart. Want to entertain anybody for a while? Give them a flathead screwdriver and let them pop the keys off the keyboard. It is just plain fun! Since keyboards don’t contain a battery usually, these are an excellent item to take apart fairly safely.
Dancing Solar Powered Toys
Pick up a cheap solar powered toy at the dollar store, and let your kid figure out how it works! Solar panels are fascinating, and without a battery, supply are also fairly harmless overall. Use the opportunity to follow where the cords go and how the solar panels make your toy move.
Most kids are still pretty familiar with DVD players, and there are a ton at garage sales! I find DVD players work particularly well because kids can follow along with the process of what happens when they press play.
Old clocks, both digital and regular usually have the right size for a beginner. You’ll be able to see a lot of working parts without ending up with pieces everywhere.
Items You Should Not Take Apart With Kids
Old televisions, monitors, and laptop screens contain chemicals that can hurt or burn and aren’t very kid or teen friendly to take apart. Microwaves are also not safe for disassembly. Cell phones are also generally not a good idea as the battery and the screen make up the majority of the phone, though teaching your tween or teen how to repair a cracked screen is a great project. Whatever you decide to take apart, make sure the power supply has already been removed before allowing your child to take it apart. This includes all batteries!
Other people may have a different opinion or be afraid because of safety. As a former museum educator who worked in science museums, I have seen the way a kids eyes lights up when they explore the inside of electronics devices. More than once we had children, tweens, and teens who became so focused on the project, they lingered well past when the workshop ended. These experiences shape us, and may just inspire your child to reach further.
So tell me, have you ever taken apart electronics with your kids? Tell me about your experiences in the comments!
This is a great idea and something I never thought of. I wish my parents had done this with me. There are so many great STEM fields out there now, and this is a good way to spark kids interest.
I work at an elementary school and this year we started taking things apart in our makerspace. It IS very fun! I really don’t know a lot about electronics though…here’s a question… I’m running into a lot of places on old electronics that say “Caution! Do not open this area! May cause electrical shock!” Can we explore these parts as long as I cut the cord off? Or is this a hint that there is a battery somewhere that I can remove and then it will be safe for us to take apart?
I would think (and don’t quote me on this) that as long as you remove the plug so that it can’t ever be used again, you can open up those areas. I would do a test: if it can run in any way without being plugged in, don’t do it. If it can’t I think it would be safe. By run in any way, I am thinking along the lines of how some things have internal batteries for their memories, like a computer.