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Technical Aspects Of Creating And Assessing A Learning Environment In Digital Electronics For High School Students

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Instrumentation and Laboratory Systems

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1243.1 - 10.1243.8



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Paper Authors

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Adam El-Mansouri

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Kevin Buck

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Herbert Hess

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session: 2220

Technical Aspects of Creating and Assessing a Learning Environment in Digital Electronics for High School Students

Adam S. El-Mansouri, Herbert L. Hess, Kevin M. Buck, Timothy Ewers

Microelectronics Research and Communications Institute Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Idaho Moscow, Idaho


To develop an interest and an understanding of digital electronics for high school students, we have created digital electronic projects using a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). The approach is module-based; the origin and application of those modules is described. The educational process is segmented into small learning projects, where the function of the modules is presented, and a main project. Our main project example is a digital clock with alarm. This paper addresses the development of the modules, uses the clock as an example of a project, and demonstrates the technical aspects of the methods.


Recently, engineering and education faculty members at the University of Idaho teamed with local high schools to create an integrated hardware/software environment to inspire high school students into electrical and computer engineering. Their intent was to develop a project- based learning environment that overcomes the learning curve often associated with introducing integrated software and digital hardware design. In that way, they could have the students creating new “things” quickly and with a “personal touch”, a strong motivator for them to begin to understand what engineering is. As such, we began with a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) learning system designed for college sophomores and juniors. In this environment, we developed some fundamental modules for a range of projects. Then we provided a few examples of increasing difficulty on how to assemble these modules to perform a useful function. After seeing these examples, the high school students are encouraged to try themselves, first at a specified project and then to create their own task and solution.


The development environment consists of a hardware portion and a software portion. For hardware, we chose a circuit board, designed at Washington State University and sold by Digilent® Corporation [2], to help teach digital logic with applications. This board consists of a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) mounted onto a standard-format printed circuit board. The pins of the FPGA connect to various input/output devices such as LEDs, switches, buttons, seven-segment displays, and standard connectors for interface to user-designed expansion interface boards. The Digilent® board contains a 50MHz oscillator which is used as the master Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

El-Mansouri, A., & Buck, K., & Hess, H. (2005, June), Technical Aspects Of Creating And Assessing A Learning Environment In Digital Electronics For High School Students Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14386

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