Mechatronics Workshop for Elementary School Outreach
Keywords:Arduino, ASEE, engineering design, engineering education, mechatronics, outreach, UMNASEE
AbstractIn an attempt to engage a classroom of fifth-grade students in an engineering design experience, we took advantage of the prior experiences of a larger collaboration which demonstrated that these students gravitate towards projects which involve electronics while also providing an opportunity to help people. The field of assistive technology, which provides a means of achieving greater independence and standard of living through the integration of technology with the tasks of everyday life and work, served as a suitable application for the student's natural inclinations towards helping others. Supporting evidence was also found in the literature where it is argued that assistive technology is a field that provides a rich opportunity for students to engage with their peers, their community, and the world at large in a meaningful way. Further, the use of project-based design experiences has been shown to improve student engagement, use of divergent thinking, and teamwork skills. This paper reports on the outcomes of this workshop, constructed to introduce the students to the design process from an engineering context, mechatronics, and assistive technology. The workshop focused on design of a mechatronic device using an Arduino inventor kit. The workshop introduced fundamentals of connecting the Arduino to a laptop, wiring simple circuits, and coding in the C++ programming language. Students were also briefed on the background of the field of assistive technology and were presented with a design challenge which would require them to design and prototype an assistive technology device to improve the daily life for a particular client.
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