Innovating with Arduino: Empower Students with Hands-on Microcontroller Activities
On Monday, August 15, 2022, Delran STEM staff members attended an Arduino workshop led by presenter Mike Cappiello. Cappiello has been a high school Tech Ed teacher for nearly 20 years and a professor of coursework in Engineering Graphics and other topics for the last five years. Today’s participants learned various ways of coding and soldering Arduino microcontrollers as well as the classroom applications for these skills in a hands-on day of professional development in the Delran FabLab.
What is an Arduino?
Arduino is a brand of microcontroller, or a small programmable circuit board. According to the Arduino website, it is an “open-source electronic prototyping platform enabling users to create interactive electronic objects.” There are free programs and projects available online.
Today participants used Arduino Uno kits, which include the board as well as other components such as resistors, transistors, a 400-point breadboard, LED lights, and others.
Today teachers worked with a breadboard, a microcontroller (Arduino), and various cables and components to create projects such as programming flashing LED lights. Breadboards are a solderless base and are good for experimenting with circuits without having to use a soldering iron. Participants first used their breadboard, Arduino, cables, bits, and software editors to create different projects. After working with the basics, participants used soldering irons later in the session for more advanced examples.
Classroom Applications of Arduino and Microcontrollers
Students enrolled in courses such as Engineering, Production Design, and Gifted and Talented may learn the principles and fundamentals of electronics, circuits, schematics, and programming in C as well as how to apply these skills in Arduino projects. Some students in these classes have already begun experimenting with the program TinkerCAD, which can simulate the Arduino models used and allow students to practice mapping circuits for projects, such as the staff did today with TinkerCAD and Arduino.
Mike Cappiello noted the projects he led teachers through today involve the design process and can also evolve to include projects with electrical engineering, woodworking, 3D printers, and transition into robotics.
Check out a couple of examples coded today of blinking LED lights below: