A set of Arduino micro-computer development kits were provided for the new BHS Intro to Coding H class. The kits came with a minicomputer, various electronic components, and a set of tutorials. With these materials, programming exercises were created that were not wholly on a computer screen, but involved hands-on tasks where students interacted with physical sensors and actuators.
Through use of these kits, highly logical, syntactic, and abstract skill became accessible to hands-on and visual learners for whom touching and seeing makes it easier to understand concepts and develop skills. Students at all levels were able implement complex projects because they enjoyed working with the sounds, lights, and motions available. Students also learned more sophisticated and complex programming concepts because of the hardware. For instance, students implemented “hardware interrupts” which are a major element in real-world electro-mechanical devices. Another benefit is that students are now proficient in C, a text-based language from which many other common languages (Python, Java) are derived.
For a final project, students were asked to create a device with a certain number of programming elements and hardware elements. A variety of impressive applications were developed, including a LED Ping-Pong game, a light sensitive music player, and a user-controllable light-up servo demonstration.