I am not a natural with circuit-building. At least, it's been difficult for me to learn. I learn tactilely, and in graduate school, often there just wasn't time for a lot of hands-on in the classroom. Plus, I was intimidated as hell. I was worried about setting things on fire... particularly setting my laptop on fire while learning to work with arduinos. So I struggled along.
Now that I'm no longer a student, I need to come up with my own way to gain skills. Enter Jesse Seay, a professor at Columbia College who teaches sound art classes using electronics. She hosts a free bi-weekly women's electronics meetup at Pumping Station One, a maker/hacker space in Chicago.
For this meetup, Jesse led by showing us a variety of sensors, which took about fifteen minutes. For the rest of the three hour meetup we all worked on our own projects. My project was getting feedback from the more knowledgeable women there on how to start learning electronics in a way that was meaningful to me.
Jesse recommended a book in the PS1 library: Make Electronics: Learning Through Discovery by Charles Pratt. It was perfect. I started reading the first chapter and running the first two experiments. Jesse and the other women helped me when I needed it, but mostly left me to my own devices as I carefully followed the book's instructions. PS1 had the supplies that I needed on hand - they are STOCKED!!!
I left feeling a lot more relaxed, and like I had solid beginnings of understanding electricity. That is major. I'm very grateful.