Electricity for dumb dads, and curious boys.

We gave Emeth his electricity set yesterday. Here he is, just after getting the motor to turn the fan. Sweet smile of satisfaction. Talia, reaching her hand in to feel the breeze.


I think I enjoyed it as much has he did (if not more), and learned some basics about electrical circuits that no one ever explained to me. Or if they did, my eyes glazed over because I couldn’t conceptualize it abstractly. It’s a little embarrassing how little I know and understand about electrical circuits, but what a fun way to find out!

For the record: my dad did try to school me on this stuff. I at least absorbed some woodworking basics, which I’m very thankful for. But growing up, I was far more interested in video games and music. I appreciate that my parents deferred to, and even encouraged my interests (particularly music) at the time. But interests come and go, and it’s never too late to learn some of the basics.

For example, take the term, “short circuit.” It is what it sounds like. Yet I’ve heard that term all my life, and it wasn’t until yesterday that I understood even a whisper of what it means. Or the concept of limiting electrical current. Or a fuse. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Last night Emeth proclaimed, “I love my electricity set!” Me too, bud.

And what a fun way to connect, father and son.

We even did this cool experiment where we reversed the circuit on the motor, so that the fan blade went in the opposite direction. The fan sits freely on top of the motor (without snapping on), so once it hit top speed it took off. My jaw dropped further than his.

By experiment #14 I felt like my own light bulb went on.

Okay, so I still couldn’t install a ceiling fan or an outlet in the wall without supervision, but I am content with these small beginnings. Our juices are flowing.

I’m wondering what it would’ve been like if, when I was in school, I had the opportunity to try stuff like this out. To just sit with something – a circuit board, pipes, parts, wood and tools – and be allowed to tinker. To make mistakes. To electrocute myself. To start a fire.

This is pretty low voltage, and adult supervision required – and all the experiments are explained and pictured in wonderful detail – so I don’t know if that’s possible yet. But this circuit board does afford him the opportunity down the line to put his own circuits together. To experiment with different placements of integrated circuits. To learn how different set-ups effect the flow of electricity.

There are more advanced sets, too. I guess we’ll see how far his curiosity takes him. He’s a boy that needs to know how things work. We’re looking forward to nurturing each of our children’s individual creative drives.

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