Written by volunteer writer Alison Perch
Getting started with electronics and hardware programming may feel intimidating, but Arduino offers an approachable, beginner-friendly way to learn the basics. The Arduino board, a credit card-sized, programmable circuit board (also called a “microcontroller”), can be used to create robots, wearable technology, and more.
In the Intro to Arduino Programming workshop on January 23rd, girls used an online Arduino simulator (via TinkerCAD) to build a simple LED circuit, a flashing stop light circuit, and a melody-playing buzzer. Before getting started, girls learned the fundamentals of circuit-building and an overview of LEDs, resistors, and wires.
Pracheeti Shikarkhane, a high school junior and TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board member, led this virtual workshop. She adapted the curriculum from an in-person version of the lesson plan and first taught it as part of TechPodz, TechGirlz’ virtual learning pods.
Pracheeti is highly experienced with Arduino and first used this tool in middle school.
“My dad got me a starter kit off of the Arduino website, and together we built a lot of the projects from the starter kit activity book. Later in high school, I worked on creating an Arduino-controlled robot, and I’m currently doing a research project that makes use of Arduino programming,” she explains.
For Pracheeti, the most exciting and rewarding part of the workshop was seeing the girls’ circuits working for the first time.
“The girls were able to pick up the material really well, and they soon got really good at circuit construction,” she says.
Though this workshop was adapted from an in-person lesson plan, Pracheeti found several benefits to teaching it virtually.
“TinkerCAD is very user-friendly and includes a lot of electrical components for you to try out in the simulator. In that sense, it’s a really versatile software … The simulator also allows you to easily see where wires and components are connected, which can get pretty messy on a physical Arduino,” she explains.
Pracheeti emphasizes the importance of connecting theory to real-world applications. For anyone leading this workshop in the future, she recommends making sure the girls understand the fundamentals of circuits before constructing their own. Still, Pracheeti advises leaving enough time for debugging and hands-on learning.
Combining practical and theoretical knowledge is important to Pracheeti. In high school, she has been involved in competitive robotics and competitive cybersecurity, and she plans to major in electrical/computer engineering in college. Pracheeti notes that the Arduino can help students learn the fundamentals of electronics and continue on to more advanced projects.
Pracheeti explains that circuits are the foundation of all electronics, and she was excited to see her students dive in with such enthusiasm.
“I can tell that these TechGirlz have such a bright future ahead of them, and I commend their bravery to immerse themselves in a new tech topic,” Pracheeti says.
The Intro to Arduino workshop will be running again virtually on May 22! Register the Tech Girl in your life, today!
(The virtually adapted curriculum will be available on the TechGirlz website coming soon)