Electric Imp for Teaching Kids


I am not sure if this is an unusual request, but I need your guidance on using the electric imp to teach kids “something”. The kit in mind is the Wi-Fi Environmental and LED Kit.

Here is why “something”: At one beautiful day I was caught playing with my imp in my landlord’s house – 82y old-- (along with other microcontrollers). That quickly got her interest, and since her great great grandaughter (10-13y) is home schooled, she asked me to show it to her to see if it would pick her interest. I know there are other microcontrollers more kids oriented to leave them up on her own, such as kano (since it is code blocks rather then the real deal), but either because I didn’t have one to show her or simple because imp’s looked cooler (kudos on you folks), she wanted the Imp no matter what. And well, since the goal is to pick her interest to teach something, rather than to force it down her, there you have it. I am your new hired teacher to teach an imp for 10-13y old!

The problem is… I am not a computer engineer, but rather a computer scientist moving on to a PhD on things completely non-related. So, you can expect me to be comfortable on figuring out the software, and getting the imp set-up and running, along with some rudimentary soldering skills if it needs be (not enough to teach), but for sure I do not know well yet how to use a breadboard, what pieces to buy and more important what projects would be the most interesting so I could have her learning something.

I can imagine having her set-up her own imp, learning the basics of the IDE and copying and paste code will be fine, whereas stopping to spend time to teach her to program using Squirrel…may not be that coolest thing and may kill the whole process. So, long story short I am after interesting projects for kids that don’t expect I am a guru on it (albeit willing to learn).

This is where I need guidance in: Projects with electric imp for the kid.

For sure I will be starting with the tails, and have her just copy and paste the code initially (she picked up interest when she saw the code making the imp turn on the LED Tail). And I will go after the weather sensor, but even then I need ideas to break those tutorials on things I will need to do and those which she can learn.

She was really interested when I plugged the imp on a breadboard I had for something else, but I don’t think I have the parts for the starting guide of the electric imp. I also don’t intend to buy many parts to it since I won’t be the one paying for her, but if you would be kind enough to tell me url’s where I could buy the pieces (I think it is an LED and a 330Ohn resistor) and wires, I think that would be helpful to get she started on thinking a bit beyond the imp itself too. Other projects as follow-up would be of course well welcomed.

Do you have any suggestions? If this is successful I promise I will post tutorials around since I am an advocate to have kids learn to program (which may not happen anytime soon here! we will see) :slight_smile:

Thank you.

Our Tails Guide includes four projects, two for each of the Tails you mention and includes full usage and programming instructions.

We also have a set of projects aimed specifically at newcomers. You can find them here. Each comes with a printable card so you can print out a handful and allow the kids to choose which project most interests them. These projects are broader and don’t require Tails, though they do require other components.

Finally, there’s also our Getting Started guide, which is a good place to begin as it’ll take a user through the process of getting their first device online and then undertake three very simple projects to find out how the Electric Imp Platform works.

Hi smittytone, these are exactly the ones I am already aware of. Still, they are not simple enough for a 10y old, so the thinking process on how to break that in chunks if you have any insight would be appreciated.

Nonetheless, like I said I am no expert. The question I asked about the LED actually applies to one of your links. Where could I buy the LED cited and the associated resistor? I am afraid to buy the wrong one and fry the whole thing on a breadboard.


I see what you’re saying, but I would hope it’s within the abilities of an educator to simplify the process for ten-year-olds - that’s what teachers do for any subject they cover, after all. Our guides are not aimed at young kids, and where they can be performed by youngsters, eg. the card projects, they’re intended to be performed with close adult supervision. The adult doesn’t need to be an expert, but does need have a basic, secondary/high school understanding of electronics. They also need to assemble all the parts the kids will use.

PS. I’d love to hear from anyone with solid education experience who has ideas about how these guides can be improved for kids their teachers.

In the case of the LED you mention, ie. a 330-ohm resistor and a small LED, these are available from many, many electronics stores - too many to list. There’s also the issue that a link to a supplier in country A isn’t much use to a user in country B. The thing to do is Google the components and you’ll get some local suppliers. eBay is good for this too. Such small components are rarely available singly, so prepared to buy ten or so. Then you’ll have spares.

This is useful feedback, so I’ll update the guides with some clarifications.

Thank you smittytone. Indeed, I would be interested in advice from someone used to teach 10y old more on the engineering part. I served as a university professor once for computer science related classes, and well, concerns with interest and content presentation certainly should vary considerably on the age range. This will be educational for me in various levels (even more over the fact I will be teaching in a non-native language homeschooled kid).

I see where you are going on needing to buy many pieces. I think I will try and check if my lab has anything I can borrow in that regard then. Concerning the tutorials: I think a quick-start that would use the tail as an optional track would be also useful. I actually got a good grasp of how Electric Imp goes about hardware/agents/build and so forth by reading it, but not being able to do any of the actual hardware since I didn’t have a breadboard or the led.

Truth be told, insofar I found very limited self-contained content out there to get the fundamentals if you didn’t went computer engineer or something of the sort. My best guidance has been the University of Texas MOOC on Embedded Systems. My hopes are that will suffice to be able to roam the web more comfortable after these things that are beginner questions from my end.


Hi Carlosvlansi,

We have some community members who have done a number of workshops focused on teaching kids how to program using imps. If you PM me your e-mail address I would be happy to introduce you over e-mail.

This would be great Jaron,t hank you for the offer. I pinged you.