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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Book Review - Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred

Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred : Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make With Your Kids lives up to it's title.
First, this isn't a book just for kids. If you've had an interest in learning basic electronics and how to build simple circuits, or how to make various kinds of instruments, or just in general love to make things, this book has something in it for you. The projects are a little too complicated for little kids to do alone, but they could certainly help parents and learn from them. They are perfect for older kids and teens to do. If you would trust them with a wood burning tool, they can probably do all the projects in this book. As always, read all instructions all the way through before starting.
The projects extensively use re-purposed materials. Bicycle innertubes, x-ray films, old cell phones, socks, aluminum cans and Tyvek envelopes are some of the materials used. None of the projects cost more than 10 dollars to make. For things you might need to buy parts for like some of the electronic parts, part numbers are given to make them easy to get.
The projects are fantastic. Sure to inspire any budding tinkerer. Everything is very well explained, and the science behind the projects is also explained. In some ways, this book reminds me strongly of some of my very favorite vintage books. Recycling and handy skills being taught in a way that is challenging and interesting.
The first chapter is named Kid Stuff. There is a basic switch box project in it that teaches the beginning of electronic circuits to make a box that has lights and sound. The Sock Squid is a sewn project with a very cute Cthulhu variation. This chapter also has classic games you can make and a box that gives you a safe electric jolt when you touch it.
The next chapter, Electro-Skiffle Band has instruments. Again, lots of innovation using re-purposed material, as well as some of the history of the instruments themselves. Enough instruments in here that you could start a band. Percussion, horn, guitar and amps and stomp boxes. It's a fun starting place to learning about music from building an instrument to seeing what kinds of sounds you make from it.
Chapter 3, The Locomotivated is probably the chapter that people who really like to play will be more interested in. It starts with a boomerang with 2 versions, one for indoors, one for out. Made simply from re-purposed cardboard packaging. Things that move is the theme of this chapter, from a very simple little robot to a nicely involved geometry project to build a box kite of Tyvek envelopes, rockets and a marshmallow gun.

No Starch Press has a lot of great books including this one. You can buy this book directly from them by going to their website. or by using the affiliate link below. I do recommend going to their website, especially if you love Legos or science. (Or if you love me enough to buy me their Manga Guide Complete Set for my birthday. Because gosh, I'm full of want for the awesomesauce of science geeky manga.)
If you'd like to know more about my review policy, you can read that here.

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