Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

Time Shift Your TV – Adafruit

Adafruit’s Circuit Playground

Ate a fruit?

No, this isn’t about eating at all. We want to introduce you to an engineering video channel on YouTube designed to educate and enlighten.

MIT engineer Limor “Ladyada” Fried founded Adafruit Industries in 2005. Fried, who just last year became the first female engineer to be featured on the cover of Wired magazine, wanted to create an online place for learning electronics. The company has grown and Adafruit’s online offerings have expanded. And it’s well worth your time to check out Ladyada’s YouTube channel.

A particularly charming and informative series found there is called Circuit Playground. The first episode, “A is for Ampere,” debuted in April. It features a robot puppet character named “Adabot” who wonders why the electricity goes out when the blow dryer, toaster oven and boom box are plugged in at the same time. “Uh oh, did I break something?” asks the bot. Ladyada explains circuit breakers, electrical currents and amperes in a 3:51 video.

Episode 2, “B is for Battery,” debuted on YouTube in June. It explores how that little battery you stick in so many devices makes electricity.

The videos are easy to understand, the pacing is not too fast and not too slow, the Adabot has a playful curious nature and Ladyada strikes a perfect tone as host.

“Every kid seems to have a cell phone or a tablet, but they know more about SpongeBob than how a LED works on the device or TV they’re watching, and we wanted to change that,” she told FastCoDesign on why she created the series.

Adafruit videos go beyond Circuit Playground. Every week there’s an “Ask the Engineer” segment, there are many “Show and Tell” segments in which people share their projects, and the video library is filled with do-it-yourself projects such as light-up Chuck Taylor sneakers and LED Gummy candies. And those are just two of the simpler ones. You and the kids (of all ages) in your family are likely to find something to try, something that will inspire, something that will challenge you. And something fun!