Tonight was the first night of our annual Pathfinder Honors Week. This is how my club begins every Pathfinder year – we teach a complete honor each evening, Monday through Friday. This lets people try out our club to see if it’s the sort of thing that would interest them before they would have to pay registration fees and dues. It also lets new members earn up to five honors for their otherwise blank sash.
Tonight I taught the Electricity honor. That’s the only one I will have to teach this week (though my son David is teaching one on Thursday, and I will likely be on the hook to help gather some of the materials required for that).
The Electricity honor requires that the Pathfinder connect a battery, switch, and light bulb in a circuit. You can get a “science” kit that has all of that in it, ready for a kid to hook it all up, but those cost $10 a pop. Multiple that by the expected number of kids (10-12), and suddenly, it has eaten a significant portion of my annual budget. So I didn’t go that route. Instead, I went the far cheaper, but more labor intensive route – I made some kits.
The parts I’d need to make a kit would cost $10 at Radio Shack, so I didn’t opt for that either. That has the disadvantage of requiring a bunch of my labor, and still costs as much as a pre-made kit. But a flashlight has a bulb, bulb socket, battery holder (sorta), and switch (kinda, sorta), and Walmart sells some really cheesy models for $1.00 each. So I bought them out.
I couldn’t use the switch as half of it is the bulb holder, and the flashlight case in conjunction with the bulb holder serves as the battery older, so that was out too. So I got some aluminum flashing and some nuts and bolts and made battery holders and switches. One advantage of that (besides cost) is that the kids can see exactly how the switch works.
I haven’t added up the cost per kit yet, but it’s far less than $10 per copy. The downside is that I ran out of time, and was only able to get six of them put together. I figured I could double the kids up two (or three) to a kit if need be.
But “need be” didn’t happen. None of the refugee girls made it tonight, and two of my most faithful Pathfinders are out of town this week. I only had five kids.
The advantage of that is that I was able to give them all plenty of one-to-one attention.
But now I am pretty wiped out. So wiped out that I will probably not take a picture of the thrown-together hack-job kits. The advantage there is that I do not have to post the less-than-stellar craftsmanship that went into them.
We also made electric motors. I will photograph those one of these days so that I can add them to the Answer Book. I was able to make mine work while I was developing it, but we were not able to get anyone’s to work during the honor tonight. Beth got hers to work for a few minutes when we got home though, and she was very excited about that. Actually, I was too – it showed that she was pretty interested in what we did tonight, and displayed a bit of persistence!