Years after the edict by the US Federal Government to start putting STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) in to US Schools, there is still much searching by local and regional schools as to what will satisfy the mixture of goals set out by the
Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM).1 Schools were given the orders of STEM on where to go to, but not really how to get there.
Microduino is preparing it education based series of products to help schools meet the goals of STEM programs. The program starts in the early years with simple assembly of components and completes the courses in the senior high school with students learning and understanding to a programming level.
Microduino will introduce three product lines, mPuzzle, mPie and MIX, in the form of kits to cover the basics of digital electronics and technology education from 2-grade to 12th. All three product lines include Microduino’s technology components, project driven, extensive lesson plans and instructor’s cards. All three series of kits come in the form of stackable tubs for easy distribution, quick component check, through clear tops to ensure all pieces have been put back in the tubs, and easy vertical storage in classrooms, closets and/or mobile carts.
The earliest grade level kits are called mPuzzle, because young students enjoy putting puzzles together. The mPuzzle pieces are electronic technology that magnetically snap together to create basic circuits. The kits include simple diagrams for student to follow and assemble the pre-defined projects. These early successes will create an introduction and positive attitude for technology in the early student stages.
The second level kit up, called mPie, is for later primary schools grades. mPie components are intelligent technology, using the popular Arduino CPU, and magnetically snap together, edge-to-edge, and snap to a back board. The students, usually working in 2-4 students per teams, can then over place a graphic overlay, provided with mPie kit, such as a rocket or ambulance and light lights, make servos go or make sounds! mPie projects run immediately after assembly with no need for programming.
With the MIX kits, which is for late middle school through 12th grade, things get even more interesting for students. MIX kit use Microduino’s mCookie form factor of hardware. mCookies are, like mPie, are individual components of digital technology each with its own function such as the Arduino CPU, Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, temperature/humidity sensor and nearly 30 other selections in all. The mCookies snap together using magnetic ‘shoulders’ which also have Lego-like dimples for snapping together. Once together, the electronic circuits is are instantly connected; no cutting or soldering is required!
Starting with MIX kits’ pre-defined projects, students now advance to the introduction of programming by learning simple modifications to the existing programs that come with MIX kits. In time they become more challenging and sophisticated projects with students developing their own unique combinations of mCookie hardware and custom programming.
The ability to learn programming and watch the immediate affects on students’ own projects, creates a path for creative thinking, self-organization and problem solving within technology and outside as a life skill…a long term, key goal in the Microduino approach to STEM learning.
- A Report from the Committee on STEM Education National Science and Technology Council issued by Federal Government: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/stem_stratplan_2013.pdf