Posted in Curriculum, Education, STEM, Teaching

My Short-Lived Arduino Journey

Having just viewed the movie trailer for the theatrical version of Roald Dahl’s masterpiece The BFG, I’m harkened back to Sophie’s magical world of London and the giants playground.  That was an epic journey.  I can’t wait for the film to be released in July.  With Steven Spielberg at the helm, I’m sure it will be fantastic, especially the whizzpoppers.  I wish all journeys could be as rewarding and phenomenal as the world Dahl wove for his readers.  However, sometimes, we need bad experiences and failures to make the other journeys more special and memorable.  Perhaps that’s why my fun with Arduino Boards lasted for but a brief moment in time.

During my my school’s long March Break, I had big plans to play with some of the fun new tech gadgets my amazing Science Department Chair had ordered for me in February.  I couldn’t wait to dig into my Arduino Board and figure out how it all worked.  Prior to break, I attempted to install the Arduino drivers onto my school-issued laptop to no avail.  So, at the start of my awesome vacation, I met with my school’s technology support office for some help.  After hours of tinkering, reading blogs, and trying lots of different solutions, they were unable to effectively install the software onto my computer.  In fact, the technology officer found through his research that the Arduino software doesn’t work well with the Mac OS, which is what my school currently uses.  There seems to be some sort of issue with Java.  As of right now, I will not be able to use the Arduino Boards in the classroom next year.  That’s super frustrating because the seventh graders are using them this year; however, because the student laptops can’t get updated during the academic year, the Arduino software still works with the old version of Java.  Until Arduino fixes the issue on their end or my school switches platforms, there will be no fun with Arduino Boards for my students and I.  My short-lived journey with Arduino Boards seemed to have come to an abrupt and sad ending.

Despite this road block, I didn’t allow myself to stop thinking of ways to bring technology, coding, and circuitry into the classroom.  Luckily, I had a Plan B.  I had also ordered a kit of the Little Bits circuits to play with as well.  These things are super cool.  They use magnets to connect circuits together to make all sorts of innovative things.  The possibilities are endless.  After playing with them for a while and figuring out how they work, I realized that if I gave a set of these Little Bits to each group of students, they could create some really cool solutions to various problems.  While I haven’t solidified which unit I want to use them with next year, I am excited about the possibilities.

So, while it seemed at first that God had given me a lemon with the Arduino Board, I turned the experience into some sweet Little Bits lemonade.  So, in retrospect, my journey never really ended, it just veered off course a bit, or should I say, a Little Bit.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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