Build Your Own Telephone

Jonathan Phillips, Kiana Matthews, Peter Hresko, Tadayoshi Kohno, Ted Chen

Our group found this kit to be a little successful as an educational experience. A child does have a chance to explore the look and feel of the inner workings of a telephone. But to gain any kind of deeper scientific understanding of the workings of those parts the child would need significant parental involvement. The kit comes with a book that is full of good information but it is beyond the reading level of a child of the age pictured on the front of the box. Thus the parent would need to read the book and then explain things to the child.

The kit itself may or may not motivate a child to explore the subject matter further. If the child has a reasonable amount of scientific curiosity and has a good access to more information, either through a parent or a teacher perhaps, then the child will probably pursue his or her exploration further.

We wanted to note that this kit failed to teach how a phone works. It simply shows that a phone is made up of resisters, wires, a speaker, etc. The book is written well but it is too complicated for the target audience, i.e., the children are too young to have the patience to read it.

Nuts and Bolts

As we stated above, we liked the book that came with the kit but we believe a parent is needed to explain it to the child. We would also prefer more of the explanations to appear on the kit itself. Most children would prefer to skip the documentation.

The materials for the kit were very poor. The phone will never last once it is assembled. It is made of cardboard. This takes away some of the motivation for building it.

Assembling the inner parts of the phone consisted of matching wires of the same color and twisting them together. Very little real learning takes place here. We believe the assembly process should be more incremental. It should also correspond more directly to learning how a phone works. An example would be asking a child to wire in a resister and watch a light dim. This would show how a resister obstructs the flow of electricity.

The kit was not complete it required tape and scissors. We did not like this.

One important thing we noticed is we only finished the assembly process because we had to. The kit lost or interest.

We also would be interested in a kit that not only demonstrated how to build a phone, but also showed how the parts could be used to build something else.

Aesthetic appeal/ Entertainment

We felt this kit had little or no Aesthetic appeal. However, we thought the box might lure some customers to buy.

We would have preferred a plastic kit to a cardboard one. We thought it would be a good idea if the end result were something useful that the child could keep. Over all we felt the kit required too much effort to learn from.

Future development

We thought the kit could be improved by making it bigger. We wanted it to show more obviously how things worked. We would like to see more learning and knowledge available on/in the kit building itself with simpler instructions written right on the box.

We thought the well-written book that offers further exploration should be replaced with a web site. The web site could offer different levels of further exploration as well as serve as a place for the company to sell more products. The web also offers all the obvious enhancements such as interactivity, simulation, etc. It is important the web site be a supplement to the kit, but not be required. That is the web should offer further exploration but the kit should be usable anywhere.