This Arduino shield has connections for an EL inverter (a small module that generates high voltage AC), and provides eight EL output connectors that your Arduino sketch can turn on or off under software control.
If you have 12V available, the 12V inverter is considerably stronger and is capable of driving dozens of feet of wire at high brightness.
(We don't preattach these to keep retail costs down, and because many users want to wire directly to the board.) If you've never soldered before, don't worry, it's easy, although you may want to practice on something else if this is your very first time soldering.
The six and eight-pin stackable headers go into the matching groups of six and eight holes on the board.
Next, plug the JST connector with the two black wires (the AC output) into the Escudo's "AC FROM INVERTER" connector. tl;dr: If you're powering your Arduino with 5V or above, you don't need to do anything more.
If you're powering a 3.3V Arduino Pro with a Lipo battery, use your soldering iron to close the SJ1 solder jumper.