At Ears To Our World, we have long wanted to give radios directly to school children in developing regions, but for a child, carrying one of our self-powered radios isn't always practical or even advisable, as this could make such children a target of theft. This is one of the reasons why teachers are the guardians of our radios. But ETOW recently hatched an idea to pursue the design and creation of an inexpensive kit that children could, themselves, assemble into a simple working FM radio--maybe even a green product, no less, in that the kit radio might incorporate a re-purposed plastic bottle as the radio's housing and/or a scrap cardboard base to hold together its components. If the radio is somehow damaged, parts could thus be easily pulled off and replaced.
The exercise of assembling such a radio could be educational on many levels, and not only would teach a child about radio from the viewpoint of a young listener, but as a young engineer and perhaps even innovator. This kit, while it would provide the basic electronics, may require a certain amount of ingenuity from the assembler as he or she would have to connect the electronics without solder, and perhaps with the assistance of items near at hand (scrap, recyclables, natural elements) for assembly board and housing. Meantime, we at ETOW could learn an enormous amount from these radio-kit recipients, both in terms of practical usage and potential programming concepts.
With this in mind, Thomas Witherspoon, ETOW's founder/director, approached Make: Magazine; shortly after, we were surprised and pleased to learn that his casual inquiry has become a Maker Challenge in their online edition. Creative hobbyists and "makers" alike instantly began to respond with ideas.
Many thanks to Make Magazine and the online editors for their support! What's more, we thank those who have (and have yet to) respond--and look forward to the invention of a kit radio, just for kids!