Go Down

Topic: physics teacher wants to incorporate arduinos in class (Read 999 times) previous topic - next topic

agleue

Hello, I hope I can get some advice.

I received a grant for $2000 to purchase a set of arduinos for my physics classes. I teach high school physics (Lawrence High School, Lawrence, KS, USA) and wanted to spent some time having students investigate arduinos.  I plan on starting the school year with a unit on electricity (current, voltage, series, parallel circuits, DC, etc.), then some basic electronics, and then we would spend time with the arduinos (maybe 4 weeks of the semester).

However, I do not know anything about arduinos, etc.  This would be my first year.

Several questions:
(1) Is the CTC program still available?  I could only purchase one box with the $2000 and I plan on sharing the equipment among three separate classes.  Would this be okay?

(2) or would it be better to buy a la carte, kits with arduinos and sensors?  If this is a better option for my $2000 grant money, would exactly would I buy?

(2) In terms of a lesson by lesson curricula: does this exist?  For example, are there lessons that step the students what to do?  Do they start with the basics?  Are there some good books or e-texts? 

Can you or someone out there at your company help me answer these questions?  Thanks,
Alan Gleue
Lawrence High School, Lawrence, KS
785-550-6870 (I would be happy to take a phone call, too, if someone could contact me.

larryd

Plus, are you going to use solderless breadboards?

Your physics labs have PCs to program the Arduinos?

.
No technical PMs.
The last thing you did is where you should start looking.

pert

My advice would be to buy (multiplied by the number of students per class or groups per class if the budget doesn't allow one per student per class):
  • Arduino Nano (easy to use, reasonably priced, and plugs directly into the breadboard)
  • USB cable (USB A to mini-B)
  • 830 tie point solderless breadboard
  • male/male jumper wires in various lengths
  • male/female jumper wires in various lengths (only really necessary if you have components or modules with male pins that can't be plugged into the breadboard)
  • additional components or modules necessary for the specific lessons you want to teach, breadboard friendly if possible.

If you wanted to support Arduino while making your budget go farther you could buy official Nanos and then get the other components from Chinese sellers via Aliexpress or eBay. Chances those items will be manufactured in China regardless of who you buy them from so it really doesn't make much difference other than you paying a markup to some middle man US seller. If you do go the China route and have time it might be a good idea to buy a test order of each item first, check the quality, then do the full order from the same seller as soon as possible. I have had very few problem with purchases of this sort of item from Chinese sellers. Generally I find that Aliexpress is cheaper but eBay sellers have way better customer service. Of course this is not absolute, especially as far as prices go it really depends on the item and changes day to day.

I think you're better off to buy the parts you need for the things that you want to teach rather than trying to base your lessons around whatever happens to be in the kits you buy. Since you need each component in quantity I don't think there will be any financial benefit to buying kits.

pert

I just took a look at the "Arduino CTC Kit 101" and I would strongly urge you to not buy that. The reason for this is the kit uses the Arduino 101 boards. Although the specs on that board look good, the support (both official and from the community) is not good at all. The documentation has serious issues that have been reported to Arduino but not fixed. Intel has discontinued their other two Arduino boards so I would not trust in the future of that hardware and/or their support for it.

Although the AVR based Arduino boards don't have the specs of the more modern ones, the support is very good. For learning the ATmega328P boards work very well. Once the students have advanced enough to need more memory or performance it should not be very difficult for them to transition to other Arduino boards.

I don't see any AVR CTC kits available in the store. That might be a better option but only having 6 hardware kits seems pretty limiting for a standard classroom. I guess groups are fine but ~5 student groups seems too large to me. You also have to consider the very likely possibility that some of the hardware will be damaged over time. Of course you only really need to buy one CTC kit and after that you can purchase additional/replacement hardware so the price will go down but the CTC kit will eat the whole grant so there is no money left to buy more hardware.

I estimate that you could put together a nice hardware kit for $40 max per student/group. This means you could buy 50 of these for the price of the 6 that come with the CTC kit. Of course that leaves out the training support part of the package. The value of that would depend on the quality of the support, which is unknown, and how much you need that support. You can always get support here on the forum for free and there is an enormous amount of free information and code for Arduino and the AVR based boards specifically available elsewhere online. Of course Arduino should give the same level of product support regardless of whether you buy 50 Nanos or a CTC kit.

terryking228

#4
Jul 17, 2017, 02:03 am Last Edit: Jul 17, 2017, 02:18 am by terryking228
Hi,

I think you can do a whole lot more with that $2000.

DISCLAIMER: I am talking about stuff from my own shop... !!

Please see:
http://arduino-info.wikispaces.com/YourDuinoEngStarter

This is an example of a kit I developed with university and high school teachers.  There are thousands of these in use, and I am about to make more for Fall semester.  These are in a strong compartmented box and students can pack up after class, stuff the kit in their backpack and do work at home.  I am also developing a classroom "MakerSet" which has 8 or 10 sets of the same components housed in two different drawer units (small vs large components).  Some schools asked for that to integrate into their "Maker Space" approach.

I agree with the scope and sequence you outlined.  Too many "Arduino" classes gloss over electricity and electronics, and this leaves students just making examples from other people.  They need to start with an objective and apply basic principles to find their own solution.

I recently did an Electricity unit with 4th graders here in Vermont, and researched low-cost "Batteries and Bulbs" materials.  Some "School Supply" companies charge 5 times the available-elsewhere price. Grr..

For a look at what High School students CAN! do with Arduino see http://internationalschoolphotos.com/CIJE_YoungEngineersConferenceNYC2017/

People here on the Arduino forums will be quite supportive of your educational work..

Let us know what you think, and ask questions...

I'd be happy to talk on the phone...

Regards, Terry King terry@yourduino.com  - Check great prices, devices and Arduino-related boards at http://YourDuino.com
HOW-TO: http://ArduinoInfo.Info

mbanzi

Dear Pert

I respectfully disagree with your opinion.

The Point of the Arduino CTC programme is not just "buy a box full of hardware" but it's a complete solution based on a box of hardware, documentation , teacher training and an online learning system. The big value is that teachers receive training and continuous support before and during the time they teach the CTC class.
We've extensively tested this in the field with tens of thousands of students. It's a SOLID teaching programme , not just a random selection of stuff cut and pasted from the web.
Moreover the CTC teaches Programming, Electronics, Robotics and more. We spent a LOT of time designing it to be gender neutral and taking full advantage of the years of experience we have teaching kids and adults.

About the Arduino 101, it's a very powerful device but it's also the youngest member of the family, some bugs are expected (Spoiler alert not even the AVR Arduino Core is entirely bug free) We're expecting a new release of the 101 software sometime in august. This is not a problem for the CTC because schools that are teaching using it receive support directly from us online. I think this is a good compromise in order to take advantage of a dual core processor with bluetooth le, 6 axis motion sensor and a neural network!

Intel had discontinued some boards as they do normally. The Arduino 101 is an Arduino product so it will continue to be supported in the future.

So yes, one can grab some chinese clones, get some random materials online and teach but there is a big difference between that and having a properly supported programme with tons of material developed by experts.

I'm happy to explain in more excruciating detail why our solution is high quality and provides PROVEN teaching value.

m


I just took a look at the "Arduino CTC Kit 101" and I would strongly urge you to not buy that. The reason for this is the kit uses the Arduino 101 boards. Although the specs on that board look good, the support (both official and from the community) is not good at all. The documentation has serious issues that have been reported to Arduino but not fixed. Intel has discontinued their other two Arduino boards so I would not trust in the future of that hardware and/or their support for it.

Although the AVR based Arduino boards don't have the specs of the more modern ones, the support is very good. For learning the ATmega328P boards work very well. Once the students have advanced enough to need more memory or performance it should not be very difficult for them to transition to other Arduino boards.

I don't see any AVR CTC kits available in the store. That might be a better option but only having 6 hardware kits seems pretty limiting for a standard classroom. I guess groups are fine but ~5 student groups seems too large to me. You also have to consider the very likely possibility that some of the hardware will be damaged over time. Of course you only really need to buy one CTC kit and after that you can purchase additional/replacement hardware so the price will go down but the CTC kit will eat the whole grant so there is no money left to buy more hardware.

I estimate that you could put together a nice hardware kit for $40 max per student/group. This means you could buy 50 of these for the price of the 6 that come with the CTC kit. Of course that leaves out the training support part of the package. The value of that would depend on the quality of the support, which is unknown, and how much you need that support. You can always get support here on the forum for free and there is an enormous amount of free information and code for Arduino and the AVR based boards specifically available elsewhere online. Of course Arduino should give the same level of product support regardless of whether you buy 50 Nanos or a CTC kit.

pert

The Point of the Arduino CTC programme is not just "buy a box full of hardware" but it's a complete solution based on a box of hardware, documentation , teacher training and an online learning system.
I specifically stated that I wasn't taking into account the value of the training support that comes with the package. I have no way to evaluate that because I've never experienced it or heard from anyone using it. It could very well be worth more than $2000 in itself.

About the Arduino 101, it's a very powerful device
I absolutely agree. I very much welcome the addition of more modern hardware to the Arduino family but I still don't feel that the 101 is the best choice for teaching beginners at the current level of support. Earlier today the Arduino team did fix some of the documentation errors that had been reported over a year ago:
https://github.com/arduino/Arduino/issues/4754
and I'm very glad to see this! There are still some other issues that I hope they will be able to get fixed soon.

So yes, one can grab some chinese clones
I never recommended buying clones. I specifically recommended buying official Arduino Nano boards to support Arduino. I think that's an excellent board for teaching and Arduino's price for it is reasonable. I did suggest the possibility of buying some non-Arduino products from China and I still think that's a reasonable compromise.

Go Up