Saluti amici. Benvenuti nel mondo della tecnologia. Tonight TechnologyNEducation is featuring a software/hardware combination that is sure to be a hit in any Physics, Engineering, or Technology classroom; the Arduino microprocessor and its accompanying IDE software. Arduino is one of the best Italian exports since the Ferrari. With a few electronic components and a little imagination you can literally do ANYTHING. Built robots, weather stations, web servers, plant waterers, garage door openers. spider dresses with legs that move like the real thing when people get close to the wearer…ANYTHING.
The Arduino consists of an ATmega328 processor embedded into a printed circuit board with various inputs and outputs. One has access to digital and analog inputs and outputs, PWM (pulse with modulation), an on-board oscillator, and many other features to make prototyping your next great invention a snap. One communicates with the Arduino from a PC via a standard USB connection and the unit will run off USB power or by way of a separate power jack. It uses a processor platform called Wiring which is essentially a C/C++ library modified and geared to input/output. In order to have a viable Arduino program (or sketch as they are called) one must simply create two functions; a setup() function in which any instantiation or initialization can occur, and a loop() function that, as it’s name indicates, continue to operate once the program in initiated.
As I am a serious proponent of teaching code in the classroom at every opportunity, this device immediately intrigued me. Since I have begun using it in my “Concepts of Engineering” classroom, I have not ceased to find new applications for lessons. Outside of the very useful coding and programming applications, Arduino teaches problem solving via algorithims, basic engineering skills, electronics and circuit design, and it is a wonderful introduction to the Internet of Things. If you don’t already know what the IoT is, you need to stop reading this and head over to Google. It is the fastest growing facet of the Internet today. The Arduino and its supporting cast of breadboards, resistors, capicitors, and switches is a great way to get engagement and interest in topics that would ordinarily receive a groan of dismay when announced. The product is fairly inexpensive and requires no great training commitment on the part of the instructor. Besides…They are FUN!