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Chi Binh Le

IoT and STEM Outreach

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Chi Binh Le    3

As part of my efforts in STEM outreach, I recently ran a workshop for Year 9 and 10 IT students at a local high school. I wanted to present something that would be interesting and different from what they would normally have from their school classes so I settled on doing a simple IoT demonstration involving Raspberry Pi, Sense-HAT, and Node-RED. The Raspberry Pi is a great way to introduce students to computing and electronics engineering.
The students I was presenting to had little or no programming experience so a visual system such as Node-RED enabled them to program simple tasks. Within 5 minutes of me presenting them the basics of Node-RED, they were quite comfortable using Node-RED and modifying the examples that I gave them. The workshop exercise was to extract sensor data (accelerometer, temperature, humidity, etc) and send it to an IoT platform. They could then view the data that was sent in a web browser in real time. Since we were using accelerometers, I encouraged the students to move the Raspberry Pi around while viewing the graph on the IoT platform to see how the values changed.
I think having a computing system with physical sensors providing real time feedback made the workshop more interesting than just a programming exercise on a computer. The students seemed to enjoy it and I got a lot out of seeing their enthusiasm. IoT demonstrations are a great way to get the next generation interested in building things.

 

rpi_nodered_iot.png

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Heath    11

That's terrific, thanks for sharing.

 

I ran a community "What's a Smart City?" workshop a while back and put together a similar IoT style, sensor to dashboard kit for participants to experiment with. It was Grove/Arduino/Ubidots based, which proved to be a nice trade-off between simplicity and flexibility. But when I want to "get the point across" on the data collection/marshalling side of things, a Pi running NodeRED is my go to.

There's a local mob here that do a STEM course called StarLAB. Currently in about 50 schools. Very similar approach to teaching Python in this case - there's a highly integrated sensor module and some of the first exercises are to get the sensor graphs appearing on a computer. The module can even be inserted in a custom rover body and of course, it's not long before students are driving it around wirelessly.

I also have a STEM holiday program coming up called MiniSparx. It's targeted at younger Year 3 - Year 6 students, so I'm leaning towards more immediate gratification platforms like Sphero and Ozobot, but you've got me thinking about whether there's an IoT angle with merit too.

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Well done Chi,

Hats off to you. 

We need more things like this for school holiday programs. I have just enrolled my daughter in a coding camp for two days but they just create games. Something like this is much more real world.

Tim

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Heath    11

Heh, funny you should say that Tim. Cuts to the core of the motivation behind MiniSparx. The programming industry has been very successful in monopolising the mindshare of the tech/innovation industry. Definitely an important part, but I'm not convinced the world really needs that many people proficient in moving sprites in Scratch.

You might get a rise out of my LinkedIn post:

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6307121692179333120

FWIW, we'll be using the littleBits STEAM kits.

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