Best Practices For Soldering in Your Learning Space
If you do any soldering projects with your youth make sure to submit for the DHF Soldering Skill Badge.
1. Safety First
As useful and fun as soldering is, it can also be harmful if you or your youth aren’t careful. For example, soldering without a smoke absorber can lead to headaches or nausea. We use this smoke absorber and point it directly at what’s being soldered to keep fumes away from the youth.
We remind our youth that the soldering iron goes up to 660 degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to boiling water, the iron is 3x as hot.
Like any other safety rules, make sure the youth put on gloves and safety glasses, roll up their sleeves, and tie back long hair.
In our space, we have small station dedicated to soldering. This mobile station allows youth to have a space that is completely clear aside from necessary tools and materials. In addition, we have a solder mounted at the top of the cart so that it’s available for youth to pull down solder as they need it, without worrying about the spool being in the way.
The materials list and build directions for this soldering station can be found here: Soldering Stations.
3. Demonstrate to Each Youth
When we run our youth soldering workshops, we demonstrate the proper technique with each youth individually. When this type of content is presented to a large group it’s easy to lose some people especially ones towards the back of the group who may not be able to see. By working with youth individually, you ensure that everyone can see clearly and that they are able to follow along. After demonstrating it once, we give them an opportunity to try it on their own, helping them as needed. Working with you individually does increase the total amount of time needed, so it’s important to either plan to spend a lot of time on this or to do sessions over multiple days.
4. Make it a Lesson
Youth should walk away not only knowing how to solder but also knowing:
- Why you would need to solder
- What the different tools you need to solder are for
- Why you don’t want a soldered component touching another, etc.
Take the time to explain each step and encourage them to ask questions. Visual aids are a great supplement to your direct instruction. Use them to clarify steps which may be confusing when explained verbally such as having a poster demonstrating how a properly soldered component looks.
5. It’s a Learning Process
Not everyone is going to get it exactly right the first time around and so, it’s useful to plan ahead and either have spare kits and/or a soldering suction tool. Here’s a link to the soldering suction tool that we use.
6. Step Back
After you’re sure that your youth know what they’re doing, feel free to take a step back and let them work on their own. It’s a subtle thing but it lets the youth know that they’re at a level where you don’t need to be concerned with them. This autonomy helps build their confidence.
One of the main ways we make sure our youth have a thorough understanding of the topics we cover is reiteration. Combining the one on one demonstration and the visual aids together are an example of reiteration. You can supplement this by taking time to go over things again in the end. This can be an abridged version where you’re pointing out the core concepts of soldering and how they’ve been applied to the finished product. Additionally, a way to have them go through the process more than once is to have youth who are confident with the material to assist you in teaching others.