I am trying to write a very brief guide for a project I am working on. What I am trying to achieve through this guide is to give the reader some ideas of what to build using the knowledge that they have just acquired. I would really love some inputs / comments from you guys.
First off, here's some background of the project as a whole; we teach high school students basic microcontroller skills with the aim of engendering innovative minds. We want the students to start making their own projects right after they've completed a 5-day training. The training was done in a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) style, where we focus on getting the projects to work and intuitively learn the theory behind it as we go along.
The training was done 2 weeks ago. The next step is to get them to build stuff. We want them to come up with useful inventions that make impact, not just something that is for table-top display. But of course, given the very little training given, we did not expect them to build something so complicated. We are looking at something like an automatic plant watering system, lights that turn on automatically when someone enters a room, temperature monitoring system, etc. We want simple ideas that could be done with minimum technical knowledge, but serves a purpose. The objective is just to get them to start innovating.
So now, I want to give them some ideas of what can they build using the microcontroller and electronics knowledge that they've acquired. I've thought of providing a list of sample projects, but then I thought its better to give a sort of generic guide which they could relate to and get some ideas from it.
Basically, I've classified all possible projects into 5 categories based in their purpose. Some projects will fit into just one category, while others will be cross-categories.
- Automation / Control
- Extending Capability
Automation / Control:
Build something that automates or controls a process. Eg;
- Turn on the lights when someone enters a room, and turns it off when he leaves.
- Water the plants when the soil gets dry.
- Control the water pressure of a valve to avoid bursting. (http://www.parallax.com/tabid/323/Default.aspx
- Flushes the toilet automatically after the user finish his ‘business’ (http://www.parallax.com/tabid/579/Default.aspx
Use your device for teaching someone something. Eg:
- Teaching aids: make something that demonstrates a concept learnt in class. Look in your textbooks for ideas!
- Instead of automate, educate! Instead of automatically flushing the toilet, the user must flush himself or the door latch will remain locked. That will teach ‘em! (This is an actual problem in school toilets over here)
Build something that send and/or receive information to/from the user. Eg:
- Temperature monitor with threshold value alarm.
- Weather station; provides the temperature, humidity, wind speed etc.
- Count the number of people that goes through a door.
Extending and improving the capability of our body or another device. Eg:
- IR remote control extender.
- Burglar alarm; tells the user when a burglar is in the house.
Something for fun or looks cool. Eg:
- A game of some sort
- Lights that dance to some music.
Can you think of any projects that would not fit into any of the categories? In fact, ideally, every invention should be able to fit into one of these categories.
If you have any ideas or comments including but not limited to what else should I include, what could be called better, or anything else, please let me know. Or if you have any experience to share, go ahead!