Video-Based STEM Embedded Systems Curriculum, Part 2

Steve BranamOctober 25, 2021



This post continues from part 1. It contains the first three lesson plans.

Lesson Plan 1: Introducing Arduino

This lesson is first because Arduino is the simplest programming environment, yet allows lots of interaction with hardware. In fact, that was pretty much the whole premise of Arduino and similar platforms, get people who don't necessarily have a lot of technical background ramped up and doing things quickly. It's a significant enabler.

That means you can get the students doing something interesting right away without needing a lot of background preparation. That gets them engaged, cranking up their interest, motivation, and excitement. Let's make stuff do stuff!

The official Arduino website is https://www.arduino.cc/. It includes lots of resources and is easy to use, though there's a lot of stuff. However, this lesson doesn't need anything from it.

The Elegoo UNO Super Starter Kit includes an Arduino-compatible UNO board, breadboard, wires, and a variety of components. Because Arduino is open-source hardware, any company can make and sell copies of it.

You'll need to install the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment), which is the software you use to write and download Arduino sketches, the programs in the Arduino programming language. On Windows, this is available from the Microsoft Store. That's the easiest way to get and install it, since it fits within the Microsoft eco-system and works with all the default system security settings (i.e. you're not trying to install unknown software).

The kit includes a CD with libraries, code, and a tutorial PDF. You can also download a zip file of all the contents directly from the Elegoo website. You can also download the Arduino IDE from here if you don't get it from the Microsoft Store; you may have to change some security settings to allow installing it.

  1. Go to https://www.elegoo.com/pages/arduino-kits-support-files.
  2. To get the Arduino IDE (only if you didn't get it from the Microsoft Store):
    1. Under "Softwares and Apps", click on "Arduino IDE".
    2. Click on the "Arduino IDE for Windows" (or other platform if you're using non-WIndows laptops) to download the IDE.
  3. To get the CD package:
    1. On the left side of the page, click on "UNO R3 Starter Kits".
    2. On the list that appears, click on "ELEGOO UNO R3 Super Starter Kit" (or the one you have if it's different).
    3. Under the heading "1. Tutorial and Code:" click on "ELEGOO Arduino UNO Project Super Starter Kit" to download the package.

The tutorial has a number of simple experiments using the various items in the kit. Lesson Plan 3: Basic Electronics will cover components, breadboards, and schematics. For now, you can just use the tutorial diagrams that show how to connect things up.

The download package includes pre-written sketches for the experiments. However, there's not much explanation about what the code is doing.

Bryan Vines' YouTube series addresses that. He recreates the experiments, then goes step by step writing his own sketches, explaining as he goes.

There are a number of different vendors who sell similar kits. If you have a kit from some brand other than Elegoo, you can still use most of the videos and tutorial diagrams, since most of the kits have similar contents.

Some brands may require some soldering to add connectors and pin headers to the modules that are included. If you get one of those, you may need to spend some time preparing them before the students can use them. All the parts in the Elegoo kits are ready to use right out of the box.

The videos:

  1. Get Started in Electronics #1 - Elegoo Arduino Uno Super Starter Kit, 22:16.
  2. Get Started in Electronics #2 - How To Control LED Brightness with Resistors, 18:32.
  3. Get Started in Electronics #3 - Controlling RGB LED with Code, 13:39.
  4. Get Started in Electronics #4 - Use Digital Inputs to Control LEDs, 14:10.
  5. Get Started in Electronics #5 - Active & Passive Buzzers w/ Arduino Uno, 18:03.
  6. Get Started in Electronics #6 - Motion-Activated Tilt Switch Uno Alarm!, 15:02.
  7. Get Started in Electronics #7 - Controlling Servos with Uno & Code, 20:12.
  8. Get Started in Electronics #8 - Using the HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Sensor, 13:25.
  9. Get Started in Electronics #9 - Using the DHT11 Humidity & Temp Sensor, 15:32.
  10. Get Started in Electronics #10 - Using the Infrared Remote and Sensor, 17:52.
  11. Get Started in Electronics #11 - Use the LCD Screen with an Uno, 12:12.

Lesson Plan 2: Circuit Drawings With Fritzing

This lesson covers using the free Fritzing open-source Computer-Aided Design (CAD) package to draw circuit pictures and schematics like the ones you see at https://www.arduino.cc/ and other places, both online and in books. It's very easy to use.

Using Fritzing, students can draw up high-quality pictorial diagrams of the circuits they assemble with their Arduino and other boards, so they can record them and share them with others. Once they learn about schematics in lesson 3, they can use it to record their circuit schematics.

That gives them both a pictorial assembly view, and a technical schematic view. Those two views are powerful ways to communicate information.

They can also use Fritzing to help them design circuits before actually connecting anything up. That creates a feedback loop where they think and plan their design on paper or whiteboard, draw up a proposed version, then experiment with the actual hardware, make some mistakes, and adjust their design.

That feedback loop is a huge part of engineering. It has multiple points to think things through.

These videos are by Troy Baverstock and Ryan Riley:

  1. Fritzing Tutorial - A Beginners Guide to Making Circuit & Wiring Diagrams, 21:30.
  2. CMPE370: Fritzing Schematics, 15:44.

Lesson Plan 3: Basic Electronics

This lesson introduces the electronics parts and components that make up circuits, information about circuits, and how to read schematics. It's less hands-on, but is critical background knowledge.

This follows up on the items the students worked with in Lesson 1, providing details about them.

These videos are by Collin Cunningham:

  1. MAKE presents: The Resistor, 5:07.
  2. MAKE presents: The Capacitor, 8:00.
  3. MAKE presents: The Inductor, 10:45.
  4. MAKE presents: The Diode, 7:25.
  5. MAKE presents: The LED, 5:28.
  6. MAKE presents: The Transistor, 8:56.
  7. MAKE presents: The Integrated Circuit, 5:24.
  8. MAKE presents: Ohm's Law, 7:08.
  9. Collin's Lab: Switches, 5:38.
  10. Collin's Lab: Breadboards & Perfboards, 5:32.
  11. Collin's Lab: Battery Basics, 7:43.
  12. Collin's Lab: Solar. 5:26.
  13. Collin's Lab: Schematics, 6:10.

Coming Soon

In Part 3, I'll provide more lesson plans.

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