Yesterday, I attended the Physics Teachers of NYC Workshop on Physical Computing, led by Paul Bianchi of Chappaqua High School. The workshop description:
“Use circuits to introduce students to programming and give them the power to incorporate automation into their projects, through physical computing – using microprocessors to read sensors and control electric devices. The Arduino microprocessor/prototyping platform is one of the most popular microprocessors with hobbyists and educators in the “maker movement,” due to its low cost ($30), simple programming language (a subset of C), and wealth of online resources contributed by users around the world. In three hours you will learn how to build simple circuits on breadboards using cheap electronic parts and how to program the Arduino to control motors, lights and buzzers using buttons and light sensors.”
The workshop was challenging, in that I had not done circuit work in years, probably since college physics. But once our team got into the groove of programming, problem solving and executing, the challenge quickly turned into fun.
Here’s a sample program we wrote.
Now granted, it only printed out “Hello World” a zillion times, but it was a start. We worked our way up to using an NPN transistor and battery to control a motor. Again, not a big deal, but a refresher course in circuitry.
I’m looking forward to finding ways to use this in class. I’m going to see if I can use the Arduino to record wind speed. That will be a challenge worth undertaking!