I have been teaching Electronics for a number of years and am always trying to keep it new and exciting. Students need projects that are challenging, age appropriate and modern. When I took over the class, students were still making little soldering kits for fish callers and strobe lights. While these projects had a place years ago, they only taught components and soldering. I want to open students' minds to new tech, programming, and making something they want to make, helping them pursue their own dreams.
The project description is attached. Students will fill this out in February/March as a preliminary plan. After this document is handed in, I conference with each student to clarify the project and find pitfalls.
I should mention that this process does have a few problems. Some students bite off far more than they can chew, some don't put in the time and effort needed to make it an awesome project. It also forces me to keep tabs on 15-20 different projects at a time and try to help each student achieve their original design. It does end up being a great challenge for all students, brings in new ideas to class, and differentiates for each student to test their skills and combine their previous knowledge.
Step 1: Set Up a Unit of Exploratory Electronics....
After teaching basic soldering, Arduino programming, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing, electron theory, electronic components and a few smaller projects. The culminating unit is a Personal Project. Students are encouraged to design and build a working model of a project that solves a problem or helps someone. This doesn't need to be a new "invention" just something that makes life better/easier. After a bunch of steps- Preliminary Proposal, draft design, final design, prototype presentation, final product and publication; students are left with a deep knowledge of a project and publish an Instructable about it. Thus sharing their learning with the collective.
Check out the last step with links to just a few of our published projects.
Step 2: Unit Details
Utilizing Ben Heck (who is my personal hero) as an example and referencing the maker movement via Chris Andersons book, students begin by identifying a problem they or someone close to them experiences. I typically discuss the one handed XBOX controller or reference "Enabling the Future" to begin the conversation about people working together to solve a problem and make peoples lives better. During this time, I also work on something I personally want to focus on. I have so many projects running around my head, that this ends up being a good time to demonstrate to students the design process, issues even I come across and discussing perseverance. This semester I built a Rasp Pi powered arcade machine that's portable. Pics are attached....guess I should make an Instructable about that too....
Step 3: Final Thoughts
Over the years this class has ended up creating some very interesting and popular Instructables. The last step of our project and leading into the final exam is for students to publish their work in a format that is open source and available for comments and able to be taught to others. We most often use Instructables.com and have had some awesome feedback. Some students have been able to reach thousands of readers. Each new semester, I bring up some of our most popular Instructables and show the new students the incredible and supportive audience that is found here. With the school year coming to an end, keep a look out for this semesters class! Here's a short list of links to projects that have come from this class project- some have even been featured!
https://www.instructables.com/id/Fruit-Clock-1/ - almost 7k views
https://www.instructables.com/id/Wireless-Mouse-Gl... - almost 4k views
https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Clap-Switch/ -2400 views!
https://www.instructables.com/id/Heating-Butter-Kn... - 1600 views!
This is an entry in the
Classroom Science Contest