Parents & Apprentices feedback

What Parents and Apprentices have said:

Bridget Steenkamp……….Apprentice Chip’s mum.

We are loving the boxes and excellent support you give. My Son is just blossoming and buzzing with excitement with it all. He loves having an area of knowledge that outstrips both his parents and has been impressing friends and visitors alike with some of his new electrical knowledge and projects.He couldn’t wait to open WonderBox 4 and has read through everything and done it all up to envelope 3 completely independantly. I can’t tell you how much this has encouraged us as parents because to date he has been a reluctant reader. He remains interested and I am thrilled to see the perseverance and patience developing in him.

Michelle Sanche and John Dipple…….Apprentice Gyro’s Parents. (Written for an article in a Canadian Home Schooling Magazine)

Our son Matthew is 14, and this is his 8th year of homeschooling. For some time, he had been expressing an interest in learning about electronics, with a view to creating his own inventions. We tried getting books from the library, but found that the books for youth were too elementary or experiment-oriented, while books for adults were technical enough to be incomprehensible. We had wondered whether a high school industrial arts course would be helpful to him, but realized that he wanted far more than an overview of basic concepts.

Then we saw a brief article about the Electronic Wizard’s Apprenticeship in a home education magazine. The description sounded like exactly what Matthew had been yearning for: an opportunity to use real electronic components while learning the principles by which they operate.

In the months since he has begun his “apprenticeship,” he has gained much practical knowledge, and the confidence to put it to use. The teachers, Bean and Ian Moore, are very available to offer insights and suggestions if Matthew has any problems.

Because of the differential between U.K. and Canadian currency, the course is not inexpensive for Canadians; however, we have found every aspect of it to be more than worthwhile.

Apprentice Gyro Says….

I think that the electronics apprenticeship is a great course for a number of reasons. Here are some of the things I like about it.

I really enjoy the instructions. They explain the concepts thoroughly and when you read them it’s like having a conversation with the instructor. They also give you lots of information as well as background on the components and circuits. It’s neat because already I can identify some components in different appliances. In the future, I’m hoping to take those skills one step further into the realm of fixing electronics as well as building my own gizmos.

Another thing that’s nice about it is I can work around my own schedule and I don’t have to miss any other activities to do it. I can also do it at any pace I want so I don’t have to wait if someone else is stuck on a certain part.

I’ve always liked to dream up inventions. I’d think about something for a while, and then I would plan it out on a piece of paper. But I rarely got farther than that because I had no knowledge of how to make things work. Now I’m hoping to revitalize some of my old ideas (as well as some new ones), build some circuits, and make them work (and if for some reason my circuit doesn’t work I can always go to the apprentice Forum and ask for help)!

All in all, I’m having tons of fun.

Apprentice ‘Axis’ says….

Hi wizard this is the best course i have ever done Very Happy I am enjoying it all so much and every time i get the new wonder box i cant wait to open it but i often have to wait til my dad gets home because he loves it to and is always asking whats that and whats this he is just like a little kid.
the thing i like the best is the fact that even though you are not with all of the other apprentices you still have to interact and it makes me want to learn about electronics Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy.

Denise Hoyle………Apprentice Vortex’s mum.

My son has never been to school. He has always wanted to be an inventor. That’s fine by me I thought, but where do we go for help with this.

Other people’s children seemed to have more realistic ambitions and I did not know of any courses for inventors .Then we saw an advertisement for the electronic wizard’s apprenticeship which seemed to be a good starting point When I first spoke to Bean I realised that this course would go beyond the basic teaching of electronics. There was a huge enthusiasm for encouraging the apprentices to express themselves and their ideas. The application form was concerned with finding out about the apprentices as individuals which I found very encouraging .When my son first went on the forum he was thrilled to be given the opportunity to talk about inventions. I realised that this was indeed the course that we had been waiting for.

The course encompasses so much . There is the basic knowledge of electronics presented in a fun and exciting way in the wonderboxes. Every two weeks they arrive, different shapes and sizes and full of wonders, presented in a really accessible way, with loads of fun things to do.

Clearly explained but leaving room for enquiring minds to raise questions and giving the apprentices the chance to help each other with these questions on the forum. My son loves the quizzes, the riddles, crosswords and wordsearches which extend his mind in other ways. He loves the quotes from Einstein etc and often quotes them to me. The tasks are fantastic and he has sent an email to Ian and Bean about the latest one which they may like to quote. Again the tasks go beyond the basic teaching , allowing the apprentices free reign to use their imaginations to the full, adapt the knowledge they have gained and often to think about practical or fanciful inventions in order to fulfill the task. They need to draw and explain these inventions and my sons fluency and spelling and basic literacy skills have amazed me and are continually improving as he communicates via the forum and the tasks etc.

The most important thing though is to have fun and this is definitely encouraged. The apprentices work at their own pace, there is no pressure.

Those who do not want to do the quizzes and tasks or get involved in the forum are not pressured to do so. Although it is a pity not to because it is all such fun.You can take and use whatever you feel is appropriate from the wonderboxes I am amazed how much knowledge my son has gained from them. I am enjoying learning with him about a subject I knew nothing about . We have tried commercial electronic boxes and found them fun putting the components together, but gained very little understanding of why they did what they did. No longer, now we build the components from scratch and really understand what is happening. Without giving away too many secrets we know why a battery works now and we know a lot more about alternating current than we did before.

My son says it is brilliant, the forum has become his favorite thing to do on the computer at the moment. It has even supplanted Roller Coaster Tycoon. He loves it when he builds all the magical things and they work. He feels really excited about the surprise of what will be in his new wonderbox and cannot wait to open it. The tasks are open ended and exciting and he treats them as real problems to be solved not just pretend ones. He loves the whole wizardy thing and his own special name. In fact he does not have a negative thing to say. He is nine by the way.

I seem to have gone on rather a lot if this is too long please edit it. I just have a lot to say because the course really is wonderful.

Thank you for giving us all the opportunity to be involved.

Denise Vortex’s mum.

And ‘Vortex’ himself……
Hi wizard, I really liked task 4. It was just like a real mission and I was looking for every little problem and ironing it out, it was one step past pretend. I hope other apprentices enjoy it as much as me!

Susan Wood……….. Apprentice Compass’s mum
In general we’ve avoided ‘educational packages’ targeted at home educators. Having opted out of the school system we were cautious about buying into any other kind of curriculum. I finally opted for the Electronic Wizard’s Apprenticeship because I knew that this was an area I had no experience in, and because my son was so keen to try it he was already working out how we could save the money. So far, it’s been a fantastic experience.
In fact I haven’t heard anyone talk about their experiences on this course without using a lot of superlatives!

I asked my son, who’s 12 and a lot more practical than I am, what he would want to say about the Apprenticeship.
He said that he’s learnt a lot but that more than anything it’s tremendous fun. He says that opening the ‘wonder boxes’ every two weeks is magical, and that the chance to discuss things on line with other apprentices and Ian & Bean has been really valuable. He thinks that the adventures are challenging but so well structured that he’s never been lost. And he’s felt extremely well supported at every stage.

I agree and I’d want to add that there’s as much about learning to learn in the course as there is about electronics. I’m watching my son organise his work, structure his time, and come of age as an independent learner. Some days we study separately at the same table, sometimes I’m called on to put an extra finger on a wire or hold something still. Some days he’s so absorbed that he’s started first thing in the morning and only stopped when it’s time to go to bed. He’s felt in control and this is very much his project. At the same time it’s been exciting for the whole family. We were all frankly amazed when, on day one, he was lighting fluorescent tubes with nothing but static electricity. We’re fascinated by the solar powered battery charger he’s now making out of an empty video case. When I (with no background in physics or electronics) ask questions about the theory of all this, he can explain it easily in terms that I can understand.

I’m happy that my son can learn something purely because he wants to, can develop his own areas of expertise and work through the problems at his own pace, with a teacher in the background to be called on when needed (surely the right position for a teacher most of the time?) And I’m glad that the emphasis is on inspiration and exploration, not on grades and assessments.

I can imagine the Electronic Wizard’s Apprenticeship working well for all kinds of children (and adults)! I see it as attractive both to children jaded by textbook learning and to children who love textbooks and want to take their understanding even further; to dreamy creative people as well as logical, practical ones. I wonder if I’d been able to play around with a course like this at 10, I might not have spent years thinking of myself as an artist but not a scientist, an intellectual person but not a practical one, someone who cared about the environment but not technology. And I wonder what other things I might have done if that was the case?


Apprentice ‘Compass’ says……….

I am having a great time on the course.
The language is just right, it is easy to understand but you dont feel like it should be made more complex. Smile
The course its self is interesting and you learn a lot.

Doug Berry ………. Apprentice Aura’s Dad

I have attended two of the electronics courses run by Ian and Bean Moore in Wiltshire, advertised in the Education Otherwise magazine. The weekends are very relaxing for me, and very keenly attended by my son. About half a dozen home educated children with a common interest in electronics attend. Ian is a very enthusiastic teacher and stimulates a lot of discussion of ideas.

They also produce a Wizard’s Apprenticeship course for distance learning, so that electronic enthusiasts can have the benefit of Ian’s knowledge and experience on a continuous basis. Every 2 weeks a box arrives in the post which is very excitedly received by my son. The tasks are always very well explained, and within 2 weeks my son has put together a handful of electronic components to make something that works and that can be used and extended. There is a chat room on the web for Apprentices to get help if needed and to exchange ideas with other children as well as Ian and Bean. Tasks are set by the Wizard each fortnight which require problem-solving, imagination, design skills, and general and scientific knowledge. The emphasis is always on having a go and helping each other.

At the last weekend course my son made a control device which he has learned to program using a PC and downloading to a microcomputer to control other systems. He is currently attempting to produce a robotic arm. Strangely enough one of the strengths of Ian’s approach is crudity of construction – as it brings the achievement of working devices within reach and helps people to understand how they work.

Ian and Bean not only have the knowledge of the subject, but also the communication skills to get it across. Through these courses, my son has increased his knowledge of electronics beyond my understanding, put his knowledge to practical use, and more importantly, is learning to communicate his ideas and to help others in a positive way.

Their courses are well worth a look.


Doug Berry

Apprentice ‘Aura’ says….

People can share results from experiments which is the same as classwork in schools.
At least everyone can work at their own pace. There seems to be more responsibility to help each other so it makes me more willing to find things out to help others with their problems.
Carol Haxo ………. Proto’s Mum (USA)

Hi Wizard,

Proto’s mom here. I wanted to share a huge success story from your program.

You are no doubt aware of relay boxes on windshield wipers that allow for the control of ‘low’, ‘high’ and ‘delay’ of the wipers. In four years, my husband has replaced this relay, a cost of $45 ea., four times – our latest replacement was last week.

Proto examined the defective relay and found the fault in the circuit board where it had shorted out. He proceeded to ‘jump wire’ the burned out connection. Though we were not the least surprised that it worked, we were all thrilled at the practical ability. As parents, we were delighted in our 13 year old’s confidence in his ability.

Electro’s mum Says….

We are really enjoying The Wizard’s Apprenticeship, I don’t know how you do it! It is by far and above the best thing Ralph and I have tried since starting home education. Thank you!

Apprentice ‘Micro’ says…..

Hi Wizard,
I think the course is fine. Some bits require more brain power Idea than others but thats all part of the fun in learning anything new. If it was all too easy we’d get bored. Smile


Apprentice ‘Process’ says…..

I’m about to begin WonderBox 6 today. ooooooh i’m so excited!!!!! I LOVE this course.. and i’m so glad I joined! I think its fun when sometimes I make mistakes, and then have to sit there assessing what I did wrong, then fixing the problem. its much better than “monkey see, monkey do”. Thanks heaps!


And a Review of the Apprenticeship….we found written on the HEC Home Education Center….

I thought I would let you know our thoughts on this correspondence electronics course for children. We are currently on our second time through – we bought it first for James a few years ago, and are now in the middle of it again with Alastair (aged 11).

In summary, it is extremely good … and not for the faint-hearted!

This is such a good course of hands-on real electronics. It is galaxies away from the readily available clip-together circuits with buzzers and lights. Each month you receive a nicely presented box of bits and set of instructions. The theme is wizardry, and the style definitely “new age” but it is nothing beyond a style – the content is extremely thorough science/electronics.

If you were brought up like me, to be more familiar with a sewing machine than a soldering iron, then you will find it pretty alien territory. Either take the easy option and rope in an available man (as I have done) or be prepared to work that old grey matter. I don’t think personally that it is something many a child would manage without someone else’s input.

Examples of things you make are as follows. A solar charger with a switch which makes the batteries charge in parallel but output in series. A reed switch activated alarm using a transistor to make a latch switch. A variable timer, set off by charging a capacitor via a variable resistor. There is a lot of soldering involved, which Alastair has got very good at.

Many of the components are built up onto a neat plastic case (a video case in fact). The most recently added was a light detector element linked to an oscillator, so the pitch of the sound goes up as the amount of light falling on the box increases. Also recently added to the case was a set of contacts to make a tiny stylophone-type instrument, which you tune to a scale by adjusting the variable resistors attached to each note. You play it by touching each contact with a crocodile clip on the end of a wire, which you solder on.

Support is offered if you find yourself in difficulties. We haven’t personally experienced it, but my sister has done the course with her son and said they were very helpful. There is also a website linked to the course where apprentices can make comments and ask questions.

The course runs at particular times, and the next beginning at the time of writing is the 27th January 2010. They like you to sign up at least 2 weeks before if possible, so they know how many boxes to prepare.

So, if you are looking for real hands-and-brains-on work, this would definitely be the course for you. It is very good.