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FAMILY | FOR THE KIDS

Getting Charged

Course is designed to turn young minds onto electronics.

February 19, 1998|RICHARD KAHLENBERG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It's never too early to start learning about a career field like electronics. This weekend, kids 8 to 16 can enroll in "Intro to Electronics" at Mission College in Sylmar.

Whether a child's dream is to repair or build or design electronic products, he or she must first learn about resistors and transistors. David Retig, who teaches at Mission College and Los Angeles City College, has discovered that with just a few hours of training, kids as young as 8 can look inside a broken boombox or VCR and determine what needs to be fixed.

He tells his young students when class begins, "You'll be able to amaze your friends with what you know and what you have done in class. And you'll have some of the coolest stuff to take home."

This Saturday will be the initial meeting of the two-Saturday course Retig is teaching as part of a program called "College for Kids and Teens," offered by Mission College Community Extension. His course is popular and fills up quickly, but he organizes extra sections when there's a demand.

His instructional standards are high. "We will look at the basic atomic structure and the principles that make electronics work," he tells students, "and investigate basic components--capacitors, inductors, resistors, diodes and transistors--using examples I will provide."

Kids will learn how to use test equipment such as oscilloscopes, frequency generators and other sound equipment. Retig also promises to introduce students to the secrets of creating special audio effects for movies and TV.

Enrollees will learn how to build a circuit board and other projects. "In class they will have some practice in soldering. Everything is tested and completely safe," he said. But parents be warned: One project is a noisy device modeled after something called a "Star Wars Space Gun Sound Generator."

In the second session, Feb. 28, there will also be a special contest for students to find what needs to be fixed in a TV, VCR or boombox.

Retig is, obviously, an evangelist when it comes to teaching electronics to elementary school-age kids. And one has to give him points for urging kids to think early in life about a field where jobs are multiplying--and fun.

*

Don Lynch, author of "Titanic: An Illustrated History," will appear tonight at 7 at the Burbank Public Library, as part of the library's Meet the Author series. Lynch will discuss the book and his work as consultant on the movie "Titanic." The library is at 110 N. Glenoaks Blvd.

BE THERE

Learn--"College for Kids and Teens: Intro to Electronics," Saturday and Feb. 28, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Mission College Community Extension, 13356 Eldridge Ave., Sylmar; fee $29, plus $12 for materials. Preregistration required. Information: (818) 364-7387.

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