Working with Beginners

It’s important to remember that many of the students you will be working with may never have thought about how machines work, or about basics of how we interact with them. Interacting with these machines is such second nature, that they have become invisible.

To help motivate the students, try to find a problem in their lives that could be solved by their own custom built simple robot. Examples could be feeding the cats or watering the plants while you’re away, beeping if the fridge door is left open, or …?

  • Talk about how machines are all around us, how they do jobs fur us, and how we interact with them. Mention how most machines that we interact with these days have little computers in them.
  • Talk about inputs and outputs, discuss in the context of getting information. List several ways we interact with machines: buttons, lights, screens, printers, knobs, switches, etc, and get the students to talk about whether they represent information going into the computer (input), or information coming out of the computer (output).
  • Talk about how computers need to be told what to do before they can actually do anything. These instructions are referred to as a computer program.
  • Talk about how all these computers in the machines that we are interacting with on a daily basis are closely related to the arduino that we have in front of us. The CodeShield is like the machine that is built around the computer. it has inputs and outputs, just like a DVD player, phone, or thermostat.
  • When we program these computers, we essentially give them instructions like “When this button gets pressed, turn on this light” or “Check this temperature sensor every 5 seconds, and if it’s colder than 15 degrees, then turn on this heater.”

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