Talk: Arduino Microcontrollers in the Classroom: Phrasing Science Questions
April 23, 2019
UMass Amherst Campus
Arduino microcontrollers in the classroom: teaching how to phrase effective science questions and how to answer them with original data. Anthony Dinsmore, Physics.
I will describe a new course for first-year physics majors at UMass that seeks to address a challenge in the standard curriculum: how do we teach basic research skills in a classroom setting? The standard physics curriculum teaches concepts and theory quite well but leaves little opportunity for students to take the lead in designing and implementing their own investigations. This course takes students through an iterative process of defining their own question, setting up a device to collect data, and answering the question. For many students, the course provides a first experience working with the hardware-software interface, designing algorithms, and programming. No prior experience with computing or hardware is needed. The Arduino is an inexpensive microcontroller that is simple to set up. The students' projects take advantage of the recent explosion of inexpensive, small-scale sensors that are available on-line for costs ranging from about $1-$20. In this presentation, I will describe the goals and the operation of the course and also bring Arduinos and laptop computers for the audience to work/play with.