How & What would you teach kids - Electronics+Ardu

After working with kids(10-15yrs) on aeromodelling(building gldiers) I'm thinking of electronics and arduino. But not very sure how to go about it? Anyone here with experience in teaching kids(Also think of kids who have never used a computer before!) how can all of this be made exciting for kids?

I was thinking of a circuit board puzzle where they have to put the right components in based on the properties of the components.

Say decrease the brightness of the LED - and they replace the resistor with one of higher resistance. Things like that. Anyone interested in exploring an open-source project in this area?

Cheers, Prakash

Kids love it when they can relate what they ar thought to "the real world".

So measuring something and visualizing / graphing it would maybe be a good idea, like the temperature over a day, or over a longer period of time.

Also things like "how hard can you punch this punchbag" or something like that.

We had a yell-o-meter in an exhibition and even the adults got pulled in… but how do you teach the kids that… i more interested in getting kids to learn it… Only ever worked with them on mindstorms / balsa models.

I think that something like mindstorms is the place to start. It is simple to use and the programming is simple and 'visual'.

Mowcius

I would think something that makes a sound would be fun. Groups could make music together or play along with a recording.

I was thinking of doing a series of boards (for kids) where the schematic is on the front and assembly hints are on the back. See http://wiblocks.luciani.org/not-quite-ready/white-noise-index.html The objective was to help kids associate schematic symbols with physical components.

Whatever you end up trying please post back your results.

(* jcl *)


www: http://www.wiblocks.com twitter: http://twitter.com/wiblocks blog: http://luciani.org

Whatever you end up trying please post back your results.

Yeah

I like that schematic board idea...

I like that schematic board idea…

Thanks. If there was interest I would do a series of these.

I did the white-noise board as a give-away board. When
there is room left on a design panel I add a few of these.
Doesn’t cost anything to make.

(* jcl *)

there is room left on a design panel I add a few of these.

Yeah, I think that is a good idea. I will have to think of a few small boards to fill up my panel (if I ever get one done). Where do you get yours done? What program do you use to fill up the panels?

Mowcius

Where do you get yours done? What program do you use to fill up the panels?

I use either Advanced Circuits or PCB Express. Excellent quality from both vendors. I choose one over the other based solely on price and delivery.

I use gEDA/PCB for the layouts and the panelization. For a design panel with a variety of different layouts that I will only make once I panelize manually. For a panel that I will re-use I write a simple Perl script using a library I created. The script creates the panels, manufacturing drawing and x-y-theta placement data files.

(* jcl *)

Nice Idea... have you tried it with kids? I'm a bit worried about them playing with a soldering iron... so i was thinking of a cross of your idea with this... http://fritzing.org/news/paper-templates-for-your-breadboard-prototypes/

and what are these iblocks on your website? they look cool...something like the siftables project?

Cheers, Prakash

I was thinking more of older kids, secondary school age (12+) and they use soldering irons in tech lessons anyway.

Mowcius

Nice Idea… have you tried it with kids?

not yet. I gave some out to the fellow that runs a kids program at the
Boston Museum of Science. He liked the idea. I just need to get
some additional functions designed.

I’m a bit worried about them playing with a soldering iron…

An older kid or an adult would have to solder. The younger kids could
insert all of the components and bring the board to an adult. The adult could
quickly check the board and solder it. The soldering goes quickly.

so i was thinking of a cross of your idea with this…
http://fritzing.org/news/paper-templates-for-your-breadboard-prototypes/

That looks like a fun system. I have been meaning to give fritzing a try.

and what are these iblocks on your website? they look cool…something like the siftables project?

The iblocks will be a series of electronic components to enable the quick creation
of circuitry. The boolean blocks are circuit components to teach logic (like the
old logic boards with the jumpers). I am in the process of adding other functions.
There will also be some synth blocks.

(* jcl *)

I run a robotics club at the school where I teach, we're building a small rover based on this chassis:

http://www1.conrad-uk.com/scripts/wgate/zcop_uk/~flNlc3Npb249UDkwX0NPUF9VSzpDX0FHQVRFMTg6MDAwMC4wMGJiLjI0ZGE2NjlmJn5odHRwX2NvbnRlbnRfY2hhcnNldD1pc28tODg1OS0xJn5TdGF0ZT0yNDY2MjAwNDQw====?~template=PCAT_AREA_S_BROWSE&glb_user_js=Y&shop=UK&zhmmh_lfo=&zhmmh_area_kz=&product_show_id=191152&gvlon=&p_init_ipc=X&p_page_to_display=fromoutside&~cookies=&cookie_n[1]=uk_insert&cookie_v[1]=8V&cookie_d[1]=&cookie_p[1]=%2f&cookie_e[1]=Mon%2c+15-Mar-2010+20%3a18%3a02+GMT&scrwidth=1366

This, a breadboard and some arduino parts with a motor driver chip are all you need, but we're putting an IR distance sensor on it for some collision control. It's not that hard to breadboard it all together or make it more permanent if you like. I'm getting a lot of parts from oomlout (uk site), whos service I have to say has been amazing.

For introduction to the arduino, programming and electronics they are messing with led's and rgb leds for the moment.

I run a robotics club at the school where I teach,

What kinds of activities do you do with robot? Is there a goal like a robot competition or do the kids just assembly the robot and play?

Do you have any class materials you use for Arduino?

(* jcl *)

Personally for kid's depending on age let them see something "amazing" where the wonder how it works like a gyroscope not really electronics but more than they will really see in school

But electronic circuits wise maybe something like this

http://www.elenco.com/snapcircuits.html

http://www.elenco.com/snapcircuits.html

Yeah but a bit cheaper maybe...

Mowcius

What kinds of activities do you do with robot? Is there a goal like a robot competition or do the kids just assembly the robot and play?

Do you have any class materials you use for Arduino?

We've not built it yet (well, I have on a breadboard and then dismantled it a few times) I'm hoping they get familiar with coding and control before finally bolting things together. At the moment they are messing with LED's and push buttons. Programming seems to be a struggle and not all are that interested - they just 'want to build a robot' but have little idea what it actually entails.

The final goal will be an autonomous robot, a robotic pet really that can roam around and maybe interact. I've been tinkering with the idea of emotions for it - angry (charging at objects), scared (hiding) stuff like that.

Programming seems to be a struggle and not all are that interested - they just ‘want to build a robot’ but have little idea what it actually entails.

This is kind of what I expected. I think if the programming involved – this is how
you go forward, this is how you turn, this is how you fire the death-ray, etc and
provide a goal then the interest level will be there.

I’ve been tinkering with the idea of emotions for it - angry (charging at objects), scared (hiding) stuff like that.

Like Kismet :wink: http://tinyurl.com/5qds6

(* jcl *)

Yeah but I'm not going for any kind of facial system, just robotic behaviour. The goal is really a robotic pet, something I've always wanted. Something that seems alive and responds to short term and long term stimulus. I don't know how much I can squeeze out of the arduino but it does have persistant memory so as a concept it can work.

I'm not talking skynet or AI, but something that roves around, investigating its environment and has noticably different behaviour. From wakeup it would move slowly (and at night via photoresistor sensor) but it would move faster after becoming awake, if happy would spin around, if sad would go an find a dark corner. Simple enough to code I think, the harder part is interacting to develop these emotions. Some kind of reward system for happiness maybe, like a button / sensor so you can pat it? Some kind of sanction for poor behaviour as well.

I've got 2 cats as well and I'd like them to interact - this might be a stretch too far because I'm not certain how to do motion tracking and movement towards said motion for basic interaction. Not certain with simple sensors anyway.

For a school project I'm already doing the programming myself, with their input into actual behaviour that we want the bot to have. Some are interested in the programming side but starting at the beginning it's hard. Even the basic idea of programming is hard for a novice, let alone variables and semi colons and loops etc.

Have you looked at Scratch -- http://scratch.mit.edu

I believe that you can do hardware control from Scratch. A simple parser on the robot end would enable you to send commands over wire or XBee.

Scratch gets you beyond the semicolons and curly brackets.

(* jcl *)