Arduino in Schools at DD&T Conference

I had the great pleasure of leading two Arduino workshops for the DD&T Conference, on 12 July at Sheffield Hallam University.

I lead two sessions where I spoke about the background of Arduino, and the importance of Open Source. Then everyone got their “hands dirty” wiring up simple electronics and programming the Arduino. The attendees were D&T teachers, D&T support centre consultants and technicians.

Traditionally, schools use some version of the PIC microcontroller, but, I am told, schools teachers are being asked about Arduino. This is an intriguing development. It is good that there are folks out there encouraging education to get involved with Arduino, which has a very different image to the PIC-based systems.

As well as traditional breadboard-based electronics, we also tried Paul Gardiners ‘Explorer” modules. I have designed a simple Arduino shield which plugs into the Arduino, and enabled people to very quickly construct electronic systems using Paul’s electronics modules. Paul has developed almost 50 modules, so there is a lot of scope, and they can be combined to explore and develop an idea quite quickly.

The effect is transformative. Using Paul’s modules, the activity uses most of the time for programming and debugging the code. When I use breadboard-based electronics, I usually find a lot of the time is spent debugging the elctronics.

The sessions were welcomed, and worked quite well, though they were too short to cover as much ground as I would like. We have a solution to this though, because I am doing another workshop for teachers at the weekend.

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