Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
My husband and son were excited to work together to review the Arduino Education Student Kit by Pitsco Education.
WHAT IS IT?
The Arduino Education Student Kit is designed for students in grades 6-12 (ages 11+) to give them an introduction to integrated electronics, circuitry, and coding in a step-by-step format they can follow to learn at home. With this kit, kids can explore current, voltage, digital logic, and programming, all while learning about some of the most famous inventors in the history of technology.
Each kit contains an Arduino UNO Rev 3 board, an assortment of sensors and actuators, plus access to the online content platform that includes 9 lessons with up to 25 hours of class time instruction. The lessons cover the basic concepts of electricity, class safety, schematics, writing code, controlling a circuit, coding concepts, controlling a servo motor, producing sounds, tones, and music, and measuring the intensity of light. There’s also a Digital Engineering Notebook where students can take notes about their experiments. The necessary software for programming can be downloaded from the website at the product link.
This kit can be purchased for just $59!
My husband, Steve, is a Project Manager for an electrical construction company, and he was once a master electrician. So he was the perfect candidate between the two of us to work on this with Holden. Holden is 12 and has ADHD, so we knew Steve would have to screen the lessons and figure out which ones would keep his interest and attention and what he was capable of doing with some parental help. In addition, he noted that each lesson included a quiz that could be found in the downloadable logbook. Steve downloaded the logbook but chose to just discuss the lessons orally with Holden rather than administering any of the quizzes. This better suits Holden’s attention level and abilities.
Once Steve activated and set up his account, he was able to access the lessons and view the resources for each lesson that corresponds to the Arduino Education Student Kit.To get started, Steve and Holden sat down together and viewed the “Getting Started” instructions on the website. This gave them a little lesson on the invention of computers, introduced them to the components in the kit, and guided them through downloading and using the software. Then there was a little lesson about electrical safety.
The next lesson was on Electricity Basics. This covered some electrical vocabulary, a history lesson on Benjamin Franklin’s use of electricity, and how to build a circuit. Then they learned all about how electricity is measured. In the activity portion, they used a battery to power a light bulb and learned how the use of resistors would affect the brightness of the light.
They began to pick and choose lessons at this point and decided to move on to Traffic Signals next. This lesson demonstrated how microcontrollers (such as the Arduino board) operate circuits. This involves programming, so the downloaded software came into play in this lesson. There was another vocabulary section and a history lesson on the invention of the traffic signal. For the activity, they got to build a circuit using red, yellow, and green bulbs, just like a real traffic light. Then they used the program and the coding provided on the website to set up how it would work. Steve felt the programming would be really difficult for someone Holden’s age if they had to type it themselves since the slightest error would cause it not to work. But the program allows you to cut and paste the programming directly from the lesson, and that made it much easier. There was also a “check” button in the program that allowed you to find out if your programming was good or not. So Steve did the cutting and pasting and got the programming set up for Holden. Once they tested how the programming operated the circuit, they were able to implement modifications in the programming to see how it would affect the traffic signals. For instance, they modified the timing of each color of light so Holden could see how that would change the traffic light and imagine it being put into use on the street. He was super interested at this point and thought this was a really cool project! Another modification they did was adding a pedestrian button into the mix. Now it was all making sense!
The next lesson they did was called Dimmer Switch. There was another section of new vocabulary words to discuss, and there was a mini-lesson on the invention of the telephone. They learned about using a potentiometer, which acts as the dimmer switch, and using the programming to control it. First, they built the circuit with a blue light and then did the programming and added the potentiometer to change the brightness of the light.
Steve actually did the lessons out of order, because he said that setting up and programming the dimmer switch was actually much simpler than doing the traffic signals, and he thought it was odd that it was set up in reverse order. As he looked ahead, he felt that the lessons beyond this were a bit too advanced for Holden at this stage, so they stopped there. But it will be a great kit to set aside and come back to as Holden gets older and a bit more mature. Another comment he made was that everything was supposed to snap onto the project board, but he found it difficult to attach the bread board and the circuit board to the project board, so he ended up not using the project board at all, but instead, set everything up on the table. He said it would have been easier if the items had snapped onto the project board, but he couldn’t get them attached.
Overall, Holden found the projects pretty exciting, and when I walked into the room, I could see how animated he was when he was working on it. The two of them seemed to be having good discussions on how things worked and how to create variations, and I was impressed with how long it kept his attention and focus! He usually struggles to remain interested in anything for very long, but this turned out to be a great learning activity for them to do together, and I’m thankful for that! For all the activities included, it also seemed like a good investment and something that would last and be able to be used over an extended period of time as desired. It was a great source of fun, learning, and entertainment for them.
The generous folks at Pitsco Education are sponsoring an Arduino Education Student Kit giveaway, so be sure to enter for your chance to win!Check out what other Crew members have to say about this and other great educational products by Pitsco Education by clicking the banner below.
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