Today, computers have become an intrinsic part of life. We use them for work and for pleasure, as a means for getting many daily tasks done, as well as to play video games and ‘switch off’. While my children might have grown up only knowing a world filled with computers, it’s still amazing to see how excited they get at being able to play their very own video games on them. It’s something we have in common and something we bond over. If I ask about their favourite game, their eyes will light up. And if I dare go down the rabbit hole of asking their favourite YouTube video, I may have a pink fluffy unicorn dancing in my dreams for a few nights to come.
I love how passionate they are about these things, and I’m keen it doesn’t stop there. As a parent and someone who likes to tinker with machines myself, it would seem remiss not to take advantage of this enthusiasm. There will never be a better time to connect with my children and give them a skill that will stay with them forever.
I’d been toying with the idea of building a PC for a while and, knowing we have a shared love of computer games, I asked my children if they wanted to work with me to build a gaming PC as a project. I was thrilled when they jumped at the chance. What ensued was a memorable and lasting experience, and certainly one I’d recommend for any other parent. Building or upgrading a PC can be such a fun engineering project for any family and, given computers are just going to become more and more prevalent in our lives, it’s a great time to help their young minds understand what’s going on ‘behind the scenes’ with our PCs, as well as their knowing how to interact with the screen.
“Building or upgrading a PC can be such a fun engineering project for any family and, given computers are just going to become more and more prevalent in our lives, it’s a great time to help their young minds understand what’s going on ‘behind the scenes’ with our PCs”
At first, the job at hand might seem daunting but, with the right advice, anyone can build their own PC – even if you have little experience.
I’ve built a few PC’s in my time, but I really wanted to make this a collaborative project with the children – rather than them ending up watching me build a PC. For someone who has never built one before, I’d recommend first deciding what kind of specs you’re looking for with your new machine. If you want advice on this, there’s reams of information available on the internet from experts. When researching the best machine to build with my family, I found an endless amount of info on first builds, ‘how-to’ guides, and step-by-step instructions. The only thing left was determining a budget and shopping for compatible components.
It was important to make sure all the components we chose worked with each other, but some quick searches told us what would work and what wouldn’t. We made a family night of researching and shopping. Next, we determined our budget, selected, and finally purchased our components. The components we selected are below:
o MSI – Z390 – A PRO ATX LGA1151
– Processor/Central Processing Unit (CPU)
o Intel Core I7 9700k
– Memory (RAM)
o Crucial Ballistix RGB 32 GB (4×8) 3200 Memory
– Storage Drive
o Crucial P5 1TB NVMe Solid State Drive
o NZXT H510
o NZXT Kraken X53 RGB Liquid CPU Cooler
– Power Supply
o EVGA B3 650 W 80+ Bronze Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
– Graphics Card
o ASUS Dual GeForce RTX 2070 DirectX 8GB Video Card
– Operating System
o Windows 10
Without going into too much detail, we assembled our first gaming PC as a family with no issues at all. We all took turns reviewing each step and then performing the task; we talked about why we were doing the step, any precautions needed and what each component does in the computer. We learned more about computers, their components and how they work in the hour-long assembly process than we ever expected.
The biggest (not best) moment of the whole ordeal was pushing the power button and watching the system power up. After loading Windows 10®, DDR4 Ballistix M.O.D. Utility (LED colour is important to kids), and our Steam® account, the computer was up and running. Some quick game downloads (it’s amazing how fast computers are with good components) and we were deep into game play.
The best thing I can say about building a PC with my children is that it was a wonderful experience. It truly is amazing and easy to dive into building (or modifying) your first PC together as a family; they will learn how computers are assembled and operate, and it’s also a way to ultimately connect. Plus, it’s fun to sit down and play some games – even after they go to bed.
Seeing your children enjoying something as complex as a computer that they built is worthwhile. They start appreciating what’s happening inside the computer and why, instead of just focusing on the screen. It may be easier to jump online and purchase an off-the-shelf computer, but you will not have the same performance, knowledge or experience of building or improving an existing computer with your family.
It’s never been more important for us to teach young minds STEM skills. Our reliance on technology means more STEM roles are opening up each year, but there’s still a gap in finding people to fill them. This project both showed my children how fun STEM can be, and equipped them with fundamental skills that will be invaluable for years to come. No matter what career path they choose to follow, I think there’s a good chance these skills will come in handy one day, whether in or out of work.
I’d readily recommend the experience to any parent or guardian. My biggest takeaway is this: keep it fun, keep it simple and involve everyone. Also, remember, it’s easy to achieve, no matter how daunting it may seem.
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