This is where electronics and computer programming meet, to create exciting sensors and devices that interact with the world around you! Using Arduino, this course teaches the basics of physical computing to teenagers aged 12+. Students will learn to develop systems that interact with the environment around them, building breadboards and programming their own Arduino microcontroller to read inputs and produce outputs. If that all sounds a bit technical, it's because it is! But Arduino was developed with hobbyists and newcomers in mind, so it's also extremely accessible. Teen campers will soon find themselves controlling LED flashing lights, switches, sounds, buttons, vibrations and even robots, all with the help of their Arduino microcontroller!
What is Arduino?
Arduino is an computing-electronics system developed to enable people to easily connect with, and control, physical objects. It is composed of a small computer, called a microcontroller, which is digitally programmed to manipulate and respond to different inputs and outputs. Students will learn how to hook it up to different sensors, motors and electronic circuits. The best way to understand the endless creative possibilities of Arduino are to see some of the results for yourself! Make a quick online search for ideas or you can read our blog post, which gathers together some of our own favourite Arduino projects.
The Arduino course will cover:
- Introduction: The programming environment, the language used and blinking LEDs
- Actuators: Simple digital toggles, transistor-based switches and pulse width modulation (motors)
- Sensors: Analogue (light sensors using LDR) and digital (temperature or humidity sensors)
- Communication: Wired and wireless communication between devices and more conventional computers
The workshop will use Arduinos as a base, and participants will have a chance to build robots, gadgets, and wearable technology using sensors, motors and breadboards. Coding will be used to program their gadgets. As with all Fire Tech courses, we encourage original thinking through project-based work and, in the case of Arduino, campers are really only limited by their imagination!
"Fire Tech Camp gave me the drive to pursue electronics and coding more than I ever had before."
Arduino Engineer at Fire Tech Camp, August 2015
Arduino Inspiration: How Might My Project Take Shape?
There are countless ways to apply the Arduino technology. Here are few possibilities to get your creative juices flowing!
- Assistive Technology: A light that helps remind you to turn it off or a potplant that tells you when it needs to be watered, or even waters itself!
- Techno-fashion: A hat with a built-in fan that automatically adjusts according to temperature, or you could literally wear your heart on your sleeve, with an LED bracelet that pulses in sync with you!
- Wireless Sensors: Do you want to know what the weather is like on the other side of your house? Or how long your cat spent in the sun?
- Super Secret Pinger: Send messages to your friends from across the school!
- Robots: How about a heat or light sensing “bug”? See our Coffeebot project here!
Equipment: Arduino Starter Kits
While Fire Tech Camp will provide kits for use during the course, many students find that they would like to have their own kit to be able to continue to work on their projects at home. The official Arduino starter kit is great and we also like the Technology Will Save Us kit - click through for more product information and to purchase your own kit. Students should also bring their own laptop. Alternatively, we can provide them for an additional (at cost) fee of £60 for the duration of the course: Rent A Laptop To all campers: We will have Arduinos and hardware components on hand for the course, but consider buying your own so you can continue your work once the course is finished (see links above).