Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sparkfun Inventor's Kit: Choice activity in math class

After seeing a tweet from Casey Rutherford last week, I looked into the Sparkfun Inventor's Kit for my math students. It's a physical circuit board that allows students to play with code that causes the board to interact in the real world--LED lights, displays, sounds, motors, sensors, etc. The kit arrived this morning and rather than get it all figured out myself I threw it (figuratively) to the kids and let them try it out.
My initial concerns was, "I have chromebooks, do I need to install anything to get it to work?" Early into this thread that started in 2011 the answer would have been "No" but then this guy named Casey Halverson created a Chrome Webstore app called ChromeDuino that turns it into a plug and play device with Chromebooks. My students had the app installed in a minute and before 3 minutes were starting to follow the instructions in the user manual in getting starting on some of the beginner activities.

Before the kids got to school I actually plugged it into my Mac desktop running OSX and had trouble getting it to recognize the device. I had to install an application and then decide which serial device port was connected...blah blah blah. I never actually got it to connect properly but it didn't matter because the Chromebooks were the intended device.

This just might be one of the coolest uses for Chromebooks in a STEM application I have seen yet and it gets the creativity going when kids begin to think about the connections between computer programming and the physical world. I often hope and wonder if having experiences like this in the classroom can be moments where my students years from now will look back and say "That is when I became more interested in __________ and look at where I am today!"

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