Categories: Culturally Situated Design Tools, Libby Rodriguez
Tags: arduino, CSDT, Fast Track, Libby Rodriguez, Sensor, Skateboarder
So these past few weeks I have been going to Hackett Middle School twice a week to host an after school session to get the kids acquainted with the skateboarder CSDT. It’s been going well. I’ve mainly just tried to let the kids play around on it so that they come across things they don’t understand and then I can explain things to them.
This week I wanted to try something different, however. I borrowed a group of students’ past project from Ron Eglash called the Fast Track. It’s a hot wheels track wired with an arduino and four sensors and measures the speed a car takes to finish the track (http://pdi-studio5.wp.rpi.edu/fast-track/). I put the opensource code onto my laptop and took the track to the school today. Through this project, the kids learned about speed (being equal to distance over time) and about how gravity and mass help to increase speed. It was a success as there was 100% participation and the competition really excited them. Through our talks about speed, they learned ways to increase speed without changing the track (i.e. taping weights to their cars). But this could also be a negative if the weight is too great, so they had to find that perfect balance.
A cool thing I noticed also was that we encountered other interesting aspects to explain to the students through this exercise as we ended up talking about wind resistance and extraneous data. My main goal in this project, however, was to give them a physical way to think of the skateboarder CSDT. We talked about how they could increase the mass in the CSDT as well as changing the angles of the arcs and line segments to increase gravity. So my plan was to get kids excited about the project using toys and to help them understand real world applications for the CSDT. So I can reference that next week when we go back to working with skateboarder.