StartHardware.org was an initiative to teach children and young people the programming of digital hardware. The Arduino-Board is used to understand the basic concepts under the surface of our modern technology. Today, it is the most visited German-speaking Arduino website.
The main platform is a website providing different approaches.
- An online course to work alone
- Teaching materials for teachers
- Projects to do alone or in class
The online course is a step-by-step guide in five levels. Each level consists of four units. The units are project based so that most of them will end with a finished result.
In the first level, the students will install the programming environment. Some basics are explained as well.
The second level is introducing the physical environment and it ends with the first program.
The third level is about programming. The concept of variables is introduced, loops and conditions explained. At the end of level three, students will be able to program a button with Arduino.
The fourth level will explain the analog output to fade an LED and introduce the pieco speaker as auditory output. It also teaches the complex concept of arrays.
The fifth level will show the use of analog sensors like a light dependent resistor. The last step of the course is the building of a digital pet. It is like a cat, which reacts to being stroked, blinks with the eyes and purrs.
The online course deals with the main aspects of digital hardware like digital and analog inputs and outputs. It even shows how interchanging data with the computer.
Teaching materials for teachers
For teachers, StartHardware.org offers a short workshop and a three-day workshop. All the materials are under creative commons license.
Short workshop and projects
The short-workshop is just introducing the Arduino-platform and gives an overview of programming. Then the students can select one of three projects, which are provided as handouts. They can work alone or in small groups and discover the project in their own speed. That concept was tested at the Junior Lab.
The three-day workshop is like the online course a step-by-step explanation and comes with 74 slides. It starts with a lot of questions to include the audience directly and leads through the whole topic. Also included is a schedule and a manual which explains the aim of every single slide of the main presentation.
Fun-fact: That workshop even made it to the Goethe Institute in Uzbekistan.
Projects to do alone or in class
StartHardware.org is an organic growing offer and at the moment the projects section is expanded. Here, single projects can be found which are not explaining the basics, but providing more specialized knowledge.
Main activities, back in the days:
- Concept of the initiative
- Entrepreneurial design
- Creation of the teaching materials
- Creation of the website, including front and back end functionalities
- Product development of an Arduino starter kit
- Community and network building