My History with Arduino
I’m not sure of the way most people learn the complicated process of programming Arduino projects because I only know my own convoluted journey. I started the hard way following projects from the Arduino Starter Kit by building photo sensor theremins and electronic magic 8 balls. Here is one of my first Arduino projects I created at a class at the Denton Public Library. (The tweet below is a flashback to the Coding Bonanza I led at Lamar Library in 2014.)
I quickly found that I wanted to do things OTHER than what the projects outlined, but I just didn’t have the code knowledge to hack projects and make them my own. I continued following projects and attempting to tinker with code. For someone with absolutely no background in coding, it was quite an arduous journey. Imagine my surprise when I found out about the ScratchX extension from Kreg Hanning at SXSWedu in 2015!
What a great place to start tinkering with Arduino! I love the work that Ryan Jenkins and The Tinkering Studio are now doing with paper circuits and ScratchX! I see this as a great place to start kids experimenting with Arduino kits (even though one of my favorite things is hooking up wires.) I’m hoping to put my own library Arduino kits on blocks and make first time users more comfortable playing with Arduino and physical computing.
But how can I get students learning the complicated language of Arduino without handing them a large Arduino Cookbook ?
Starter Arduino Kits (Arduino at Heart)
Hummingbird Robotic Kits and the littleBits Arduino module are great places to start. (I have my own littlebits Arduino project featuring Ardublock in our #bigmakerbook and another free littleBits project here. ) These two kits require minimal electronics knowledge, and can be combined with cardboard, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners to make amazing contraptions.
One can also begin to tinker with Arduino coding with any of these kits:
- Hummingbird Robotic Kits
- littlebits Arduino Kit
- SparkFun Digital Sandbox
- Adafruit Circuit Playground (Warning: Not for beginners!)
- Plumgeek Robotics (Read my review)
- Lilypad Protosnap (One of my favorite boards for developing soft circuit project ideas BEFORE sewing together! Also featured in the #bigmakerbook)
- SparkFun Tinker Kit (STK) (My own lesson below)
Tinkering with Arduino Lesson Plan
Plus, I’ve developed a lesson plan with the Sparkfun Tinkering Kit that revolves around tinkering with scribblebots and Arduino programming. It’s available at Teachers Pay Teachers.
I wrote it as a challenge to myself because I don’t normally see Arduino as a tinkerable process. It takes quite a lot of knowledge and expertise before one can start to tinker with Arduino coding. That’s why I thought it would be great to develop a lesson around tinkering with Arduino code to actually learn how to write your own code. Check out the lesson here.