Day 64 – Arduino Sketches

Engineering Physics – While some students finished their timer sketches last week, many are still working on theirs. However, most students are very close to finishing. I’m asking that students put comments in their code. There are two schools of thought on commenting code: comments should explain what you’re doing; comments should explain why you are doing what you’re doing.

For this project I’m asking students to comment using the latter scheme. I don’t need to know what the if statement is doing, I want the student to clearly explain why they are using it. I’ll go through the programs and give feedback on this.

Day 56 – Improving the Timer

Engineering Physics – This cart launcher timer project has been really good. All students are learning a ton from it, working hard, and are engaged. Some students are really taking off with it.

One group had finished the basic task early, so they added a machine learning algorithm to their timer. They added a switch that allows the user to pass the flag/hand/obstacle over the photoresistor. From this pass they do an analogRead and determine how much light is being picked up by the photoresistor. They then use this for the rest of their timer code.

Day 44 – Arduino

Engineering Physics – Students started using Arduinos today. There was some puzzlement and headscratching, but also some very pleased kids. One student had the biggest smile I think I’ve ever seen on the student. She was so proud and happy to create a circuit where LED’s flashed on and off. I think it was the idea that they accomplished something concrete yet totally foreign to them. That “Holy sh%t, I actually did it!” kind of feeling.

Day 42 – Arduino Enthusiasm


Engineering Physics – We finally had a bit of luck today and most of the computers logged in fairly quickly. Students got to make their first Arduino sketch and circuit. The main goal was to choose an appropriate sized resistor to match an LED, build the circuit with a breadboard, and make the LED blink. Some groups were quicker than others and they started to develop their own more complicated circuits involving multiple LEDs.

The students were pretty pumped and many asked me if we could work on the Arduinos again next day. The plan is for them to build a timing system using photoresistors, so yes, we’ll be using the arduinos.




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In Physics 11, the students started off with a Plickers kinematics question. I chose a question that would likely lead the students to use d=vot + 1/2at^2.  The wrong answers included not squaring the time, and not considering that there was acceleration (using d=vt instead).  I then challenged students to create fully annotated graphs from a different problem.  We did a gallery walk with the whiteboards and I wrote down properties of the graphs that we agreed were good to include.

Day 26 – Robotics Club


Robotics Club – We’re trying hard to kick off a robotics club.  There is a lot of interest and on this day there were about 25 kids that showed up just to talk about and draw/imagine what their robot might be able to do.  I’m raising money to purchase robots, and I also bit the bullet and bought 10 sets of robotics equipment using my own money. I hit ebay and amazon and got Arduino clones, ultrasound sensors, photoresistor sensors (for line following), h-bridge, chassis, cables, etc.