April 9, 2021
April 9, 2021
April 10, 2021
The pandemic has had an enormous impact on daily life, from long-distance travel to access to restaurants, and one significant but less-noted area is in the access to pre-college summer activities. Educational camps and programs are a big part of many children’s summer schedules, and these were generally not available in 2020. To address this gap, a week-long Arduino workshop was developed to give middle school students an opportunity to actively engage in fun and educational STEM activities. The challenge was to see if an engaging STEM program on electronic hardware could be delivered remotely . With the aid of a very capable electronic simulator program, we found the content could be effectively delivered and even implemented on real hardware. The program was implemented as follows: It was popularized through the local middle schools and Binghamton University and reached its cap of thirty registrants almost immediately. An Arduino kit (Elegoo Uno Super Starter Kit) was recommended but not required though almost all (27/30) of the students purchased the kit. The class met twice daily for a week, and culminated with each student presenting their individual project on the final day. The lessons were structured as a brief demo by the instructors, followed by a mini-project. For example, one project involved interfacing with an LCD display. To assist the students with the mini-project, they were each assigned to one of three breakout rooms, each one with an instructor . This program website (https://klotzkinsummerworkshop.blogspot.com/ ) gives the complete schedule, list of activities and the final projects completed (with names elided). The key software was the Tinkercad Circuits simulator, which could realistically simulate an Arduino microprocessor, including the programming, and associated electronic components. Students created Arduino programs using either a beginner-friendly graphical interface or the text editor. The graphical interface is based on the block coding of the Scratch programming language and is a proven successful introduction to programming for kids as young as elementary school age . The projects (programs and electronic components) were simulated in Tinkercad. The computer program was then uploaded to an actual Arduino. The challenge then (to the students, and to the instructors helping them remotely) was being able to exactly replicate the connections and wiring on the breadboard in real life. Most students did this successfully and some realized very intricate projects. Prior to this workshop, 75% of the students had little or no programming experience and only 4 students had experience with a text-based programming language. Over 80% of the students had little to no experience with circuits. At the end of the workshop, more than half of them expressed interest in becoming an engineer, and they universally said both that they’d had fun and learned something. Overall, these students spent a productive week during a difficult year and emerged with a working knowledge of electronic hardware and Arduino programming.
Klotzkin, S., & Kimmel, H. S., & Klotzkin, D. (2021, April), A Hands-On Online Summer Arduino Workshop for Middle School Students Paper presented at Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference, Virtual . https://peer.asee.org/36279
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