cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Paper Pumpkin - Sensors, LEDs, and Arduinos, Oh My!

brueckert
Community Member
7 12 544

WelcomeArduino.jpg

We started revamping our science curriculum a couple years back as a part of a big STEM push as an institution (complete with a new building). Lovingly called STEM 1 initially, now Science 9: Chemical and Physical Systems, the course Freshman take comes in two flavors: standard, and accelerated/math intensive. Both include a healthy dose of instruction and projects involving programming, with a Springtime focus on programmable circuit boards in conjunction with a unit on electricity. Enter the tiny little circuit board that could: the Arduino.

I love Arduinos. If you’ve never witnessed what one of these can do, you need to get yourself on the InterGoogles and search for Arduino project examples and prepared to be wowed by the internet of things. Obviously, we weren’t expecting the students to create some of the complex examples you might find online; we were simply going for exposure initially, with a little application of their electric knowledge gained from the accompanying unit thrown in for good measure.

Canvas turned out to be an excellent platform to present the instructional content for the Arduinos. We introduced students to a series of Modules, the first being an overview of the circuit board as well the the development environment. We had them blink an LED (of course!), control an LED with a potentiometer, then had them modify the code to cause some type of change in the system. The second Module was a series of separate tutorials centered around a particular sensor or programming concept. For example, the RGB LED had an in-depth look at “for” loops, while the bank of LEDs looked at arrays. Each of the mini activities in the second Module contained Canvas Pages with an instructional video discussing the program sketch, an overview of how to construct the actual circuit on the breadboard, an Assignment that challenged them to expand on the example circuit, and a badge.

Arduino Badge.pngTempBadge.pngServoBadge.pngLEDArray.png

CanvaBadges was an interesting experimental piece to the project. I created a badge for the intro Module, and separate badges for completion of each of the mini activities in the second Module. Success and student interest in badges was directly related to how they were presented by the separate instructors. In one class, the teacher almost cheesily over emphasized them and the students followed suit; they had a fierce competition for who could collect them the fastest. Yet in another class, badges were more of an afterthought, so students really didn’t care. In hindsight, I should have prepared faculty better with strategies to get students excited about badges. It was mostly a bust that year, but showed potential.

The final piece of the project involved a student-designed Arduino circuit. Groups were challenged to build a circuit that collected some kind of data that would cause another component to respond in some way. They were given a small budget and were pointed to an online tech store to order parts. The default sketch that many of the less adventurous groups defaulted to was a temperature sensor that caused an LED to light up at a certain threshold. We had some absolutely awesome projects though. One group created a series of LEDs that flashed based on the beat of an audio track, while another created a laser-based attendance tracker that counted up whenever the beam was interrupted by someone walking by!

Canvas was an excellent tool to use for our STEM 1 Arduino Project. All of the instructional content rolled up into Modules provided a “home base” so to speak for students to get everything they needed to succeed - from remedial programming help, to inspiration for project design!

Has anyone else done engineering or tech project Modules in Canvas? Please share!

12 Comments
awilliams
Surveyor

This sounds fascinating! Any chance of a Creative Commons or Public Domain version of the course going up in Canvas Commons? This might also make an excellent Canvas Network course. Great work!

brueckert
Community Member

Thanks Adam. I've thought about sharing it to Commons, but many of the circuit images were ripped out of a SparkFun book we purchased. I'd have to Creative Commonize it (is that a thing?) before it could be shared out to to Community as those images are probably copyrighted, though I will double check to be sure. 

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

 @brueckert , I love how you were able to use Canvas to propel an arduino, something so quintessentially tangible and physical, into the virtual world. Your blog did indeed send me running to the internets, because while I do know what a raspberry pi is, arduinos were until now beyond my ken. I'd love to see videos of your students' finished projects. Thanks for sharing this, and I hope SparkFun will give you rights to the images; I'd love to see this course in Commons!

bbelew
Community Member

I first read your comment from my cell phone and skimmed it a bit and thought he was powering arduino from Canvas Smiley Happy    Got me thinking.  It would be a cool project to setup an arduino or rasberry pi project that gathered data of come kind and updated a Canvas page using the API.   Or maybe a lego mindstorm robot powered by a rasberry pi, taking commands remotely from a collaborative canvas page or something

Full disclosure - i'm no teacher, nor do I have any experience with arduino or rasberry pi - so no clue if what I said is even possible Smiley Happy

brueckert
Community Member

Totally doable. I think you could easily set up a RaspPi/Arduino + the Canvas API to turn on a Canvas "Warning Light" on the wall when you get a notification or an assignment submission. Or you could use the setup to log the temperature conditions in the classroom for 24 hours and automatically post the data to a Canvas page to demonstrate how having warm bodies in a room significantly increases ambient temperature.

I see a lot of potential here 🙂

bbelew
Community Member

Or maybe a replacement for the good old fashioned stop lights to monitor sound levels in a classroom.   Stop Light 2.0 would be a monitor that post an alert to a canvas page if sound levels get too high.  Would be useful for a teacher who has a sub Smiley Happy

brueckert
Community Member

Oooo I like that idea. I think I have some tinkering to do in the next couple weeks. I literally have an Arduino and RaspPi in a drawer at my desk not currently being used. Maybe a followup blog post on integrating Canvas into the internet of things is on the horizon. Thank you for the inspiration!

bbelew
Community Member

It's a shame they don't have an API surfaced for attendance.    If students had ID cards with RDIF, or magnetic strip, could setup a sensor that they swipe when they walk into the classroom.   Could be useful for a clock-in, clock-out scenario for student stores, or production classrooms.

bbelew
Community Member

Or coupled with a barcode scanner to a canvas page, for a school store inventory.  Tons of options!

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

 @bbelew  and  @brueckert ​, this has turned into a true idea incubator, one that is begging to be shared! I'll share this blog with the Higher Education​, Instructional Designers​, and yes, since we're now talking about arduinos and raspberry pis that can work with APIs, even the Canvas Admins​ group. Fun!

brueckert
Community Member

Hey awilliams In doing a little research, the SparkFun images and pretty much everything Arduino related are under the CC 3.0 license; cool right?. I've shared the introductory module to Commons. It is titled STEM 1 Arduino Introduction. I'll need to make some modifications to the second module before its ready for "prime time," so to speak. If you import it, let me know what you think. I'm not scared of criticism and would love it if someone would tear it apart. Only makes it better in my eyes. Thanks!

I am very curious how importing Modules works across institutions. It works great when I import from one course to another here, but I'd like to know if the domains properly transfer over, as well as the files, images, embeds, etc. Let me know what you find.

ogranat
Surveyor II

Good Morning,

Just stumbled on this as I was exploring the groups. I am soooo excited I just imported the course. Brian, thank you for sharing your work! I will try it out and let you know how it goes.