Arduino Arduino Esplora Bare Conductive Board Maker Gadgets MaKey MaKey PicoBoard SparkFun Digital Sandbox Technology Club Meetings

Tech Club Workshop, September 2015: Microcontrollers

We in Technology Club have numerous microcontrollers this year. The first ones we are exploring are the: Arduino Esplora, SparkFun Digital Sandbox, Bare Conductive board, MaKey MaKey, and PicoBoard.

Some are easier to work with than others. Before visiting the links, please read each introduction as well as the capabilities of each microcontroller. While you are in each station, please divert your attention to only that microcontroller. Either take notes electronically (you can start a file and upload to Google Docs, for example) or in your Tech Club notebook for yourself.

Add thoughts to your team’s chart paper, too, as you move from station to station.

Remember, we are never set in who we are. Your hard work and persistence will always bring you to the next level! Our knowledge and application are not finite.

I worked hard to find these links and videos. I am not affiliated with any of them.

Station 1: Arduino Esplora: The Arduino Esplora is different than other Arduinos because you do not have to solder in components to get it to function. Programming is a bit more basic. Some of the components of the Esplora are: a temperature sensor, joystick, up/down/left/right buttons, accelerometer, buzzer, and light sensor.

Station 2: SparkFun Digital Sandbox: The Digital Sandbox and Arduino Esplora are similar because both have built-in components. The video below, uploaded by SparkFun Electronics on YouTube, shows how this board works.

Station 3: Bare Conductive board: Almost any material/surface can be turned into a sensor using the Bare Conductive board. This board is phenomenal for a plethora of interactive projects! Using conductive paint, you can paint a design and have people interact with it. The video below demonstrates how people can touch images (like the Mario Brothers pipe) and associated sounds are played.


Posted by SparkFun Electronics on YouTube.

Station 4: MaKey MaKey: You may have seen the MaKey MaKey before, but it is capable of doing so much more than just controlling a piano with Play-Doh buttons or making piano stairs with aluminum foil.

There are many materials out there that are conductive: graphite in pencils, aluminum foil, Play-Doh, numerous fruits and vegetables, water, conductive tape, conductive paint, silverware, and anything made of metal. This list introduces you to even more materials.

You can write programs in Scratch that interact with your MaKey MaKey. You can incorporate numerous sounds when one pushes the up, down, left, and right buttons as well as the space bar. Movement can be incorporated as well as so much more. An example from a user that is really incredible is the Dance Dance Revolution sketch.

The neat thing about the Scratch website is how you can view the programming for any of the sketches on there, and that is what has helped me to learn how to incorporate numerous phenomenal components.

People have even taken the MaKey MaKey so far to set up a conductive room. They have also made assistive technology interfaces for art as well as so much more.

Read this post from me to see some websites you can access while using the MaKey MaKey.

Station 5: PicoBoard: The PicoBoard is a beginner “plug and play” microcontroller as well, including a light sensor, sound sensor, and slide. It functions well with Scratch programming.

Holding six sessions in September 2015 (two for each, two weeks in a row):

  • Middle School, Session 1
  • Middle School, Session 2
  • Fifth Grade Session

You may sign up for: 

  • Teaching a group of younger elementary students about one of the microcontrollers
  • Open Make night in October

If you choose to sign up for something during school, you must be caught up with all work assigned in your classes. You may have to come to me with a signature from each of your teachers, whether you are in middle or elementary school. 

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