Electronics is an integral part of innovation, yet many electronic classes across the United States are being closed because of NCLB(1) and ever-shrinking school budgets. However, more and more schools are instead opening robotics courses. With the Arduino platform we saw an opportunity for educators to integrate basic electronic principles into existing robotics courses using the VEX, LEGO, and BoE hardware. Fortunately, Arduinos are very inexpensive and can be used not only as a mobile robot controller, but to create lots of other “smart” stuff as well.
The Arduino exposes students to a basic microprocessor concepts, prototyping on a breadboard, and basic electronics concepts through many cool projects. The Arduino takes the processor ‘out of the box’ and gives students the opportunity to ‘build from scratch’ electronics systems. To augment these features, we’ve developed lessons around LEGO, VEX, and the BoE bot at our ROBOTC wiki and by the end of the summer we will have a set of plans that allow students to turn a RC car fully autonomous. We have a team of folks dedicated to creating a series of lessons that makes teaching electronics through robots fun and easy, all while using technology that is already in your classroom.
In this regard, we have a very broad range of projects in mind for ROBOTC for Arduino; everything from basic LED control to creating homebrew sensors is covered. The end-goal for this research and development project is to expose students to a broad range of basic electronic concepts from simple circuitry to digital input (on/off switches) to analog inputs (potentiometer) to PWM concepts. As we continue to develop our ROBOTC for Arduino support materials, we need your help. We are asking you, the ROBOTC community, to recommend projects that you are working on and are willing to share with educators and hobbyists. Please consider sharing your project ideas and we will be glad to post them on both our blog and wiki. As always, keep an eye on our forum, Facebook, and Twitter pages for the most up-to-date news. Thanks!