Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom
Resources mentioned in Chapter 8 – Physical Computing
Makey Makey – An “invention kit for everyone,” Makey Makey should be a part of any tinkering classroom. Makey Makey creates a simple alligator-clip-based interface between the computer and everyday objects. It plugs into the USB port of any computer, even a Raspberry Pi, and turns household objects into a keyboard or joystick. The website has many projects, videos, lesson plans, and resources.
Arduino website – Open source electronics prototyping platform and robotics controller for interactive projects.
Make Magazine Arduino – Videos, project ideas, how-tos, kits, parts, and blog posts about what people are doing around the world with the Arduino.
Micro:bit Foundation – A non-profit organization supporting the BBC micro:bit, a versatile microcontroller board. Resources for students, teachers, developers, and an online community.
Micro:bit Go kit – Get started with micro:bit for around $15 (US). You get a micro:bit, battery box, 2 AA batteries, and USB cable.
Chibi Chip (Love to Code) – Love to Code is a microcontroller board packaged with a fun graphic book introducing coding and electronics. The system works with the Chibitronics circuit stickers, and can be programmed with a number of languages including MakeCode. It can also be programmed from your smartphone for ultimate flexibility.
art:bit – Program the micro:bit display from a Chromebook.
Sparkfun Lilypad Center – Sparkfun offers the Lilypad family of boards and sewable electronic parts. The site includes tutorials, videos, and guides.
Adafruit Wearables – Flora and Gemma microcontroller resources, plus other tutorials and videos for sewable electronics and programming.
e-Textiles in a Box – Free resource from the National Council of Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) provides activities that teach about sewing soft circuits and programming.
Sew Electric – by Leah Buechley, Kanjun Qiu, and Sonja de Boer. This book contains projects ranging from simple to complex that teach different aspects of sewing with electronics, leading up to programming the Lilypad Arduino.
Raspberry Pi Education Manual – Free guide to using Raspberry Pi in the classroom. Written by a team of UK teachers from Computing at School (CAS). Includes chapters on Python, Scratch, interfacing, and more.
Birdblox – Android/iOS app is a Snap-like environment for tablets that can program the micro:bit and the Hummingbird Robotics Kit.
Hummingbird Robotics Kit – The Hummingbird Robotics Kit by Birdbrain Technologies is designed to enable engineering and robotics activities for ages 13 and up (8 with adult supervision). It is terrific for making robots, kinetic sculptures, and animatronics built out of a combination of kit parts and crafting materials. It is programmable in dozens of software environments including Scratch and Snap!
Bee-Bot, Blue-Bot, and Pro-Bot – Bee-Bot is a bee shaped programmable turtle for young children. The Blue-Bot adds Bluetooth and a free controller app. For slightly older children, Pro-Bot is a car-shaped floor turtle, complete with a pen for drawing geometric “trails” on paper.
Dash and Dot – Dash and Dot are robots that interact in fun and creative ways. Robust and attractive, they work with various apps and programming languages.
Ozobot – Ozobot is a line of robots controlled either by following color codes or programming. The color-following mode is more gimick than programming.
LEGO Education – Main LEGO website for education products and resources.
LEGO WeDo – An early-childhood robotics construction kit that may be controlled via Scratch. Offers educator resources and lesson plans.
LEGO EV3 – Robotics construction kits for middle school/high school students, resources, and lesson plans.
Causal Patterns in Simple Circuits: Lessons to Infuse into Electricity Units to Enable Deeper Understanding – A terrific resource for educators to understand how to help students move from simple models to more correct models of electricity and circuits. The lessons also emphasize a classroom culture that encourages exploration, with an emphasis on how to deal directly with student misconceptions by asking them to observe deeply and construct their own understandings. Designed for middle school, the ideas could be adapted for younger or older students.
littleBits – Electronic building blocks for children, color-coded by functionality, that snap together with rare earth magnets. This eliminates the possibility for incorrect connections, short circuits, and syntax errors in order to facilitate electronic tinkering by learners of all ages.
Snap Circuits – Explore electronic circuitry, with and without a computer, with snap together components to make working circuits and machines.
Lectrify – Small circuit components work with paper, wearables, and any arts and crafts project. The pieces are designed to reflect real electronic components, providing but not forcing a pathway to understanding electronic design.
Circuit Arcade – Instructions to make your own DIY cardboard circuit components.
Fritzing – An open-source software tool for circuit design. There are tutorials, a global user group, and a library of components that can be used to design circuits and circuit boards. (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Drawdio – Allows you to turn a pencil into a simple music synthesizer. You can play music while you write! Build your own or buy a kit.
Minty Boost – A small kit that lets you create a battery-powered cellphone charger that fits inside a tiny gum tin. The kit doesn’t come with the tins, so you might wish to purchase those too.
TV B Gone – A tiny contraption that turns off (or back on) any television in your vicinity. This has serious mischief potential and can make your colleagues want to kill you, but kids love it and can learn a bit about electronics too (before being chased from the mall).