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.