Prepared for You by Jared Collacchi, Instructor at Create & Learn
Why Use an Arduino?
Before we get to the “what,” as an instructor, I think it’s important to discuss the “why” for you and your children. We are surrounded by electronics - smartphones, computers, TVs, robots, and more. While lots of students have learned to code, few have had the opportunity to build the physical system, which opens up a brand new world.
In our Circuit Wizards: Intro to Arduino at Create & Learn, we introduce students to circuit and Arduino, one of the most popular single-board devices. The class uses an Arduino simulator and does not require a physical device. However, if you prefer, Arduino can be purchased online. The same code will work on the device without any changes.
What is Arduino?
Now, on to the “what.” The Arduino is an easy to use Single Board Microcontroller. What exactly does that mean? A Single Board Microcontroller is a small device similar to a computer but a simplified version that will run programs.
Microcontrollers can be found in automobile engines, medical devices, remote controls, office equipment, home appliances, power tools, and even small toys. The Arduino allows anyone, including your children, to become familiar with the basics of electrical engineering and design, while building projects limited only by their imagination. I happen to teach Circuit Wizards: Introduction to Arduino at Create & Learn and my students never cease to amaze me with their ideas and creations!
After the initial introduction to some few new keywords and skills, the Arduino is an easy-to-use tool for beginners, but still flexible enough for advanced users, and there are variations on the board to allow for levels of experience. The Arduino Uno is the most popular to use, especially for beginners just starting to build projects. Arduino is a cool tool to learn new things, and discover new passion. If you can imagine it, you can build it. It becomes as simple as plug it in, program it, and have fun.
Arduino is Affordable
Arduino and all the different components out there in the world are very affordable. This is due to the rise of the Arduino and the massive maker community the industry, and production has caught up to supply the overwhelming need.
The low price tag that comes with learning with the Arduino has allowed the Arduino to become the standard teaching tool for designing with electronics across the globe. The community of users that teach, learn, and play with the Arduino are extremely welcoming and supportive, and resources for learning with the Arduino are almost endless. Every day I can search the internet for “Arduino projects” and get a new list of exciting projects. The material and breakdown of each project are shared so anyone can try it.
The Arduino community is sometimes referred to as the “Makers” or “DIY” (Do-It-Yourself) community. The amount of support and resources they contribute to help others to learn and explore is one of the biggest reasons to learn and use the Arduino and your child will benefit from this network of innovators and learners. Check out this open source list of project guidance from the Arduino community.
Why Do Students Need to Learn Arduino?
Arduino is Widely Used in the Real World
The centerpiece of the Arduino Uno Board is a little chip named ATmega32. Now you might say to yourself that you have never heard of it. But the truth of it is this: it is one of the most widely used chips in the world. The ATmega32, and similar chips, can be found everywhere like in automobiles such as BMWs or in gaming technology like the Microsoft Xbox hand controllers. They are everywhere.
Improve Your Coding and Electronics Skills
The Arduino is a great tool to learn coding and electronics because it easily connects with other hardware and components. You can program the Arduino in many different ways. In the initial development of Arduino, students learned Arduino C, a written language sometimes difficult to learn. Nowadays there are many choices to use like Tinkercad block coding.
Here are a few cool student projects made with Arduino.
What is the Arduino Used For?
Electronics as a Field of Study
Electronics is the result of combining and creating projects using components such as resistors, motors, and sensors. Every day you come across hundreds if not thousands of devices that use electronics to function. This is also referred to as Electrical Engineering and has become such an important pillar of today's society. Electrical engineers are people who study, plan, and design different things that use electricity.
Learning about Components with Arduino
In our class, Circuit Wizards: Intro to Arduino - Unit 1 we start with the basics of electronics. Students learn how to create circuits, use resistors, and get introduced to Ohm's law, while building a series of cool projects and experiments. We also code Arduino to start building smart devices that can sense its environment and respond accordingly.
Here is a list of commonly used sensors and components that you and your children likely interact with in your daily lives that are consistent with learning how to build projects with Arduino.
- Ultrasonic Sensor uses sonar to determine distance
- Infrared Obstacle Sensor detect objects near the sensor
- Temperature Sensor detects ambient temperature
Commonly used output components
- Servo Motor a small geared motor
- LCD Screens a screen allows you to display text
- Motors A electrical motor
Arduino - A Foundation for Robotics
The Arduino can connect to and work with almost every device or component out there. From motors to motion sensors, it's a great way for students to learn and understand and learn about inputs and outputs and how computers, robots, and mechanical devices can interact with you and the world around them.
A perfect example of an Arduino being used while building advanced Robots is the openDog project by James Bruton. He combines electrical and mechanical engineering to build awesome robots and he video documents his discoveries and what he learns while working on his projects. “...maker and general robotics, electrical and mechanical engineer, I’m a fan of doing it yourself and innovation by trial and error.”~ James Bruton
Projects with the Arduino - For Kids
Are you wondering what your child can build with the Arduino? They can build something as simple as an automatic light to a fully functioning home automation system. The level of simplicity or complexity of your project with the Arduino is up to you or your child. I always have students start small and they quickly learn and develop. The projects never stay small for long.
In Circuit Wizards: Intro to Arduino - Unit 2, students build more sophisticated circuits for smart devices, code breakers, and games using Arduino. They also learn more advanced electronic concepts such as digital versus analog and control servos and sensors. Your child will also sharpen coding skills and even tap into a bit of text based coding to get ready for more advanced coding classes.
I look forward to seeing your child in class. And, in the meantime, join our free introduction classes in Scratch, Minecraft, Data Science, Python, and more. Or check out all 16 courses we offer, from beginner to mastery, where every child can find topics they love.
Create & Learn is on a mission to power up your child’s future with courses in AI, Robotics, Data Science, and more. Designed for children grades 2-9, classes are delivered virtually with live, expert instructors. Lessons are interactive, foster creativity, and make real life connections across industries so your child can explore the latest technologies and have fun! www.createandlearn.us