What is an Arduino?
The Arduino workshops revolve around micro-controllers called Arduinos. These are similar to the little chips found in many modern equipment such as phones and computers. Without these little chips your equipment would not work as they are the heart of all modern technology.
The Arduino itself is a larger chip than those found in phones and allows you to easily plug in motors, lights (LEDs), sensors and other electronic equipment straight into it, without soldering or advanced knowledge of electronics. We can then program the Arduino to do what we want, such as flash the light or drive the motor when it detects a button press. This is much like mobile phone manufacturers programming their phone to display information on the screen.
Another really important feature of the Arduino is that it's all open-source, meaning that anyone can make and program them, so they are fairly cheap. This makes them accessible to children who want to take an interest in technology.
You can also check out our Arduino resources here.
The workshops help teach the children a basic knowledge of electronics and programming (similar to C for those interested) in a very hands on, interactive and fun way.
Some examples of circuits children have made, over the years that this project has been running, include a traffic light system (see picture on right), a speaker driven by a potentiometer (when you turn the potentiometer the speaker gives off different tones), a digital temperature gauge, a robot (two motors with wheels) that interacts with light and a 8x8 LED block that displays pictures. But with the knowledge we give them, if they are interested they can go on to use the Arduino in many electronics projects such as an Arduino driving a LCD character display screen, a magnetic door lock, or even an oscilloscope. The posibilities really are endless.
We go into schools in term 2 and usually each volunteer will get paired up with a group or individual each having a computer, Arduino and electronic equipment. The volunteers help the students to assemble the circuit and program the Arduino by using handouts pointing the student in the right direction if they need help or challenging them with interesting additions to the current project if needed.
I don't know anything about programming or electronics!
Do I have to buy an Arduino?
No, all the electronics and equipment is provided for you to play with. Of course if you like the Arduino and want to make your own circuits at home there's nothing stopping you buying one.
Find Out More:
- View Technology Volunteers news items, from our News page, involving 'Arduino'.
- View Technology Volunteers events, from our Events page, involving 'Arduino'.