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1  Topics / Education and Teaching / Re: Starting Arduino Project At High School on: October 16, 2011, 09:24:31 am

I promised them that we would create a small robot, but they don't know they will get thought electronics during the process

I really like this approach and I plan on doing the same.

2  Topics / Education and Teaching / Re: Starting Arduino Project At High School on: October 13, 2011, 07:22:21 am
Thanks StijnK!

Rather than "redefining the wheel" (because I'm lazy - ha) I will be relying mostly on tutorials already created and proven to be helpful rather than creating my own.  And why not, eh?

I am approaching my project with very loose, almost zero guidelines - the deployment of the Arduino project in my curricula is an experiment in itself.  For example, I'm only requiring students to provide their own Arduino Uno's and a basic starter kit.  I'll help them a little with programming and understanding a few electronics fundamentals, but I want them to take gigantic steps towards creating a project that captures a personal interest.

I realize there are no real shortcuts to understanding electronics, programming, and so forth, and I am aware the path we're taking is probably not be the most efficient, however in the past I've asked students to participate in activities which, seemed fairly dull or too time consuming (building a prototyping board from scratch, for example).

Although there will still be a learning curve, the Arduino Uno will help students enter the realm of electronics very quickly and allow them to access a gigantic community of support, while spending very few dollars in the process (at least initially - ha).  I want my students to experience the satisfaction from coming up with an idea then working out all the problems in order to have a successful result.  That simple two-step process is the epitome of learning, in my opinion.  Ironically, from an educator's point of view, this methodology is critically missing, almost nonexistent in contemporary secondary public education.

So, I'm anticipating some negative criticism from my far-left brain peers who take a much more structured approach to learning - that's understandable, no problem.  I also want everyone to know I'm interjecting these microcontroller-related activities as accessory projects to our mainstream curricula and also during optional, after-school meetings.  It is my greatest hope that at least a few of my students will embrace the world of electronics and go very far with it, hopefully even using this to positively influence future careers.

Thanks everyone!
3  Topics / Education and Teaching / Re: Starting Arduino Project At High School on: October 11, 2011, 05:36:49 pm
thanks liudr

I am contemplating using a separate battery pack for the project I'm creating for tomorrow's presentation.  Anyone have an idea what battery requirements and connectors would be sufficient for an Uno operating one or two small servos, 8 LED's and a speaker?

Thanks
4  Topics / Education and Teaching / Re: Starting Arduino Project At High School on: October 10, 2011, 10:57:20 am
Last Wednesday I introduced them to the Arduino using mine that was only blinking.  I showed them how to change a variable in the program to speed up or slow down the blinking pattern among the five LED's

It's going to take a lot more to impress them - I realize this, so I asked them to take the initiative and discover what's being done with the Arduino and select something to do that they may have an interest in

This week I plan on creating a very simple interactive device that takes input then provides motion, lights and sound.  If they don't have any direction, I'll ask them to reproduce what I've done or have them start at the beginning, blinking the #13 LED on their Uno and moving on from there.

It's funny how so many of them look at something like a simple robot and think it's a five minute project.  It's sad how many give up when they realize the activity requires more than five minutes to accomplish AND it requires them to think.

A civilization that allows themselves to be controlled by others deserves the inevitable bondage.

(sigh)
5  Topics / Education and Teaching / Re: Starting Arduino Project At High School on: October 03, 2011, 06:10:55 pm
Woo hoo!

My Uno & kit arrived today and I've been having a blast working with this thing!

Now to prepare a good presentation for my class on Wednesday!

I'm going to show them this video -->
 
6  Topics / Education and Teaching / Re: Starting Arduino Project At High School on: October 02, 2011, 09:48:48 pm
Thanks - I frequently use my ThinkPad with a 16GB Linux Mint thumb drive - works great with my computers at home.

I tried using this technique with the machines in my classroom but the BIOS skips the USB ports when booting up and - of course - the IT department won't let me change the BIOS boot order setting - it's password protected and will remain that way because they are the IT department and they have the POWWWAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

 smiley-roll

7  Topics / Education and Teaching / Re: Starting Arduino Project At High School on: October 02, 2011, 08:12:30 am

Some schools are still in a dark ages. Remember when the teacher knew everything, and the students just received it (and forgot it)..

It's ironic how educators - the people who are supposed to be engaged in the art of learning - know so little about the educational realm!  In fact, one of my education professors told our class "Some teachers started teaching wrong their first year and have continued doing it that way for the last thirty years"

Virtually always, I am very much against the objectivist methodology - this deployment & assessment technique is "dark ages" indeed.  I'm proactively in the constructivist camp - and proud to be here.  I've studied and employed the benefits from pedagogical, andragogical, and heutagogical systems.

Today in public education we see an unrealistic and unnecessary emphasis on high stakes testing which has literally become the god of education convincing the local administrators what should be driving the motivation for and defining the direction of what occurs.  Why should anyone really think about or care what's truly best for students?   . . . ?  Oh, I know, you can't document that in a bar chart and the higher the bars which provide links to administrative "image security."

Rant over - sorry.

The machines in our room had Windows 7 Pro removed in favor of XP 64 (the IT dept did not want to support yet another OS, from what I'm told).  I have a large, thick XP book which may help me unlock the prohibition instituted by the IT department which so often eliminates the students from using software that would be essential in not only accomplishing the standards I'm required to teach, but also the opportunities to explore additional information and experience challenging events like the Arduino projects.

I have almost finalized my decision to require students bring in their laptop computers in order to accomplish our goals.  Asking IT for old computers - ha!  That would require forms, paperwork and a willing department to cooperate.  I don't mind the first two, but the last one simply does not exist.  This is just one of the many reasons why this will be my last - and hopefully my best - year of teaching in this district.  I cannot ever be satisfied in an environment where unnecessary restrictions are imposed which restrict or prohibit my ability to teach, more important, their ability to learn.

Uh oh, another rant, sorry.

If the laptop requirement was imposed, my participation level would involve very few number of students.  Also, please keep in mind our school district includes students who 75% of them qualify for receiving free or reduced lunches - lots of poverty.  I am even willing to purchase four of these kits with my own money to help out but I am unsure if I'm really going to make a difference or if this will spin into another frustrating, uneventful experience regardless of the intentions to provide a useful, educationally rewarding, and FUN experience.

Maybe I'll discover a local authority/corporation who will donate a few laptops for my computer lab and I'll toss on Linux Mint and create my own wireless intranet and all the applications will be available for our learning purposes and . . . I can still dream, right? 

As I have been reprimanded previously for asking for "too much" IT support, I cannot afford to "push" the IT requirements in my classroom:  I want a stellar recommendation from my boss when I apply for another job.  BTW, I offered to manage all the requirements of the existing machines in my lab and expressed how I used to do this for sixteen years before I began teaching in public education.  Nope, not wanted, the boss recently paid an IT consulting firm thousands of dollars to have our machines upgraded with software we're leasing from a vendor.

Regardless, I will do what I can with what I have.  I am not getting paid for the after school club I'm required to sponsor so I am going to take control - as much as I can - and provide these students with Arduino projects they will hopefully embrace and we'll all be better for this endeavor, having FUN along the journey!  smiley

Sorry to rant - too much coffee this morning (ha).
8  Topics / Education and Teaching / Re: Starting Arduino Project At High School on: October 02, 2011, 06:06:39 am
Wow - an active forum!  Sometimes, being new, ya never know but I'm happily surprised by the feedback.

Mega-thanks!

My goals for Wednesday

1 --> Introduction, show them some simple stuff that I can do, ask for their input, without boring them (these days, some adolescents tend to have millisecond attention spans - ha).
2 --> Ask them to search the Internet and find how microcontrollers are being used to solve problems, express creativity with art projects, have fun and blah, blah, blah.  Briefly, I will emphasize the power - and fun - of enhancing their problem solving skills using the Arduino.
3 --> Encourage them to participate by purchasing a Uno and a kit and bring it to class next time we meet.

As you can imagine, it would probably be most helpful if everyone started out with the same hardware.  Initially, and because I am very new to this, I was going to opt for the kit I purchased (link below) but I'm very open to any suggestions.

ALSO --> and this may be a big hurdle, the IT department WILL NOT allow me to install software on the student machines.  Besides asking students to  bring in laptops for this endeavor, does anyone have an idea how I can overcome this obstacle and get my students the software they need for this ongoing adventure?  We have 28 student computers, each has 6GB RAM, good processors, and blah, blah, blah.

Thanks again,

millis

http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Arduino/A000028/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMu5STvjs3TtKoJlP2oS1NWb
9  Topics / Education and Teaching / Starting Arduino Project At High School on: October 01, 2011, 08:37:39 pm
Hello,

I will be starting an Arduino project on Wednesday!  My Arduino Uno and kit will be arriving Tuesday and I'm going to introduce my students to electronics with these items.

Hopefully, they will generate the money necessary (or ask their parents) to get their own kits and on the week following, we'll have a bunch of students engaged in this process.

My experience has been some fumbling around with the basic Stamp and a little bit with the Propeller.  This will be my first experience using the Arduino and I'm very excited about this endeavor.

I'll keep everyone posted,

Thanks!

millis
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