Education: Arduino Lessons

By Adam Skobodzinski

Our community of educators amaze us everyday, and Rich Born is no exception. As a former Computer Science professor at Northern Illinois University, Rich focuses his expertise and creativity into developing original littleBits lessons with the Arduino at Heart module. His educational topics cover the fields of chemistry, physics, music and astronomy– and he’s just getting started. If your students have mastered the basics with the Arduino module (see our 10 getting started sketches), these lessons are a great way to further engage your group in experimenting with the natural sciences, programming software and littleBits.

See Rich’s profile for his full set of projects and lessons. We’ve pulled out some of our favorites below:

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Simulation: Geiger Counter and Radioactive Decay Half-Life

This project will simulate both the decay process of radioactive isotopes and a Geiger counter used to measure the decay rate.  The decay rate is simulated by a tone emitted by a Synth Speaker, with random clicks indicating that a simulated radioactive atom has decayed.  Students collect data on decay rate vs. time for any one of ten simulated radioactive isotopes with half-lives varying from roughly 50 through 300 seconds.  The teacher can assign a different isotope to each lab group. Data will be collected automatically via a sketch running on an Arduino at Heart module and imported into an Excel spreadsheet for student analysis.


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Experiment: Standing Waves and Resonance on an Elastic Cord

In this experiment you will use a littleBits servo module to cause a length of elastic cord to exhibit standing waves. When the servo is vibrating at the natural frequencies of the stretched elastic cord, you will observe standing wave oscillations with a relatively large amplitude. This phenomenon is known as resonance. Using a basic law of physics relating wave speed, frequency, and wavelength, you will be able to determine the speed of the wave in the elastic cord.


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Experiment: The Pendulum

In this experiment you will investigate the relationship between the length of a pendulum and its period of oscillation.  This will be accomplished by using an Arduino sketch that automatically times the pendulum’s swing as it interrupts light that is striking a light sensor. Data from the sketch can then be imported into an Excel file for student analysis.


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Experiment: Determining the Acceleration Due to Gravity

In this experiment you will construct a littleBits circuit, using the Arduino at Heart module, bright LED and a light sensor, to determine the acceleration due to gravity. You will drop a model picket fence between the light sensor and the LED. A sketch running on the Arduino will measure the time when the pickets block the light.  From this data, and knowing the distance between pickets, you will use Excel to determine the acceleration due to gravity.


To run your own version of Rich’s lessons, check out our Pro Library which contains 4 Arduino at Heart Modules and 248 other components!


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