Engaging students with open source technologies and Arduino
Timing is critical when trying to engage students in various engineering career paths. While many 'National Engineers Week' programs exist for primary and middle school students, there is a lack of hands on activities for students in the 9th-12th grades. It is often difficult to devise experiments for this age group that are interesting and not juvenile. Yet, it is during these crucial years that most students are lost to science, math and engineering. Engaging students and presenting opportunities for invention and excitement is important in the teen years, when peer pressure and the distractions of friends, social events, and activities are particularly high.1. There are a number of open source programming and affordable hardware platforms that can be used to implement low cost and interactive programs to promote innovation with various age groups. In this paper we share our work, as well as our learnings on how to make the workshops more effective. We have created various Arduino projects that can be customized to grade levels ranging from grades 7-12, and even college undergraduate students. The various projects we describe in this paper have been used to interact with students of different grade levels to engage in basic elements of engineering and computer programming. The classes should be set up to work in groups to promote shared innovation, teamwork and collaboration with peers. The open source and hardware experimenting exposed the students to various career paths ranging from software engineer, to electronic engineers and basic elements of various other engineering paths. This paper is designed to demonstrate the promotion of the engineering profession in schools through the use of Arduino Uno, Raspberry Pi Gemma kits, and Flora kits. The programs are also designed to accommodate classroom setting, workshops, or as an in-class field trip.