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Gone are the days when creating a robot or electronic device required an extensive background in engineering or years of experience spent learning how to input (and write yourself) complicated code. As an easy-to-use open-source platform, Arduino is changing the engineering landscape by making electronics and circuit work accessible to the masses, including young people who have little or no experience with circuit work or electronics.
Thanks to Arduino, introducing teens to electronics has never been easier—or more fun! To complete any of the easy, engaging projects below, you can easily find most of the necessary supplies readily available at electronics retailers that stock Arduino kits and products.
Here are seven easy Arduino projects that will teach teens the basics of circuit design, coding, and logic flows and start their journey into the wonderful world of STEM.
1. Electronic LED Dice
Arduino electronic LED dice are a great first project for teens to introduce them to engineering basics. This simple project teaches kids how circuits work without requiring a wealth of knowledge about circuits and does not require very many components. Building their own electronic dice prepares young people for more complex projects in the future by familiarizing them with the fundamentals of circuits and coding.
Here’s how it works:
- LEDs are set up in the shape of an H to resemble a die face
- The LEDs light up and will stop on a random number once you hit a pushbutton, effectively mimicking a common die
Electronic LED dice are also fun because they can be used in games in place of traditional dice. Kids can customize their dice by picking the color of their LED lights.
2. Traffic Light
Building a traffic light circuit is another great way to introduce Arduino to young people. It’s not only fun, but it’s also a way for kids to learn about the practical applications of electrical engineering and coding by exploring how a traffic light works.
A traffic light circuit is composed of red, yellow, and green LED lights that the user sets up on the breadboard according to a particular logic flow.
Here’s the breakdown:
- The user then enters code into their Arduino that puts the LED lights on a timed loop
- Once one of the lights has been on for a predetermined amount of time, it will automatically turn off, and another will come on.
If you want to dive deeper into this project, you can add complexity by introducing a pushbutton that, with some additional code added to the logic circuit, mimics what the pedestrian walk button does. You can also choose to add another traffic light to the circuit instead of a pedestrian crossing and introduce coding that will alternate the colors of the traffic lights.
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3. Simple Robot
For teens who are interested in robotics, there are few things cooler and more rewarding than making your very own robot that you can control. Although robotics has a reputation for being quite a complex field with many moving parts, making a remote-controlled Arduino is actually very simple.
There are many different ways to go about making an interactive Arduino robot, including methods that use lego parts and robots consisting of parts that you can create with 3D printers.
For teens who are looking to take their robotics work to the next level, there are even easy-to-make Arduino robots that perform very specific tasks, like chess-playing robots and robots that move a laser pointer to play with cats.
4. Basic Alarm
Teens are also able to easily build a basic safety alarm using Arduino UNO. To complete this simple project, you will need an ultrasonic sensor, which gauges the distance between the sensor and nearby objects by measuring sound waves, and a piezoelectric buzzer, which emits a high-pressure sound when signaled.
Here’s how it works:
- The user enters code into the Arduino Uno
- The ultrasonic sensor will send an analog signal for the alarm to go off when another object (or person) comes within a certain distance
A word to the wise: you’ll want to set some ground rules when you’re working with piezoelectric buzzers. After a while, the sound can get annoying, especially if a teen decides to set it up so that the alarm goes off every time another family member gets too close to their bedroom!
5. Automatic Street Lamp
Having teens make an automatic street lamp is another great way to engage kids with engineering while also teaching them about the practical applications of engineering in everyday life. Building an Arduino street lamp is very straightforward and requires only a few different materials.
For a street lamp project, you would use a light-dependent resistor (LDR) which allows a different amount of voltage to flow through the circuit depending on the amount of light that is present.
Here’s a breakdown of the logic:
- The LDR gives an analog output that is converted into a digital signal
- That signal is then transmitted to the LED light.
- This causes the LED light to shine more intensely when the LDR senses darkness, and to shine less intensely when it senses that light is already present.
Like many Arduino projects, you are able to find different versions of this project online that have been adjusted to add complexity for teens who would like to dive deeper into the project.
Another easy and useful project for teen engineers is the Arduino stopwatch. Although different versions of the Arduino stopwatch can have more features, it is best to start with the fewest components possible to make troubleshooting easier and advance to more complex versions of the stopwatch only as teens gain more experience.
The most basic Arduino stopwatch relies on two pushbuttons that will allow the user to start, stop, and reset the stopwatch. This pared-down stopwatch requires only an Arduino UNO board, a breadboard, resistors, jumper wires, and an LCD display. Like a traditional digital stopwatch, once you hit the stop button, the LCD display will read the amount of time that has elapsed since the start button was originally pressed.
7. Obstacle-Avoiding Car
Many teens dream of the day they’ll have their own car. Although it’s not quite the same as having a car that you can drive to school and back, creating a robotic car with Arduino is surprisingly simple, and a fun way to engage teens in hands-on engineering work.
Here’s an overview:
- The user will input code into their Arduino board that tells the robot should move forward unless the device senses an obstacle in the way
- An ultrasonic sensor can determine if there are any obstacles in the car’s immediate path by measuring sound waves
- When an obstacle is detected, the logic path indicates for the car to move to the right or left and continue forward in that direction until another obstacle is encountered.
Although having access to a 3D printer can be helpful for this project, you should also be able to make your robot car using inexpensive materials found elsewhere.
Explore Engineering with Arduino
If you are looking for easy ways to get teens excited about electronics and engineering, Arduino is a fun, interactive way to get them started doing hands-on work in the field and to get them thinking about the role engineering plays in their everyday lives. Arduino projects provide kids with invaluable experience and engineering knowledge that can lay the groundwork for future technological exploration and innovation.
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Easy Arduino Projects for Teens:
- Electronic LED Dice
- Traffic Light
- Simple Robot
- Basic Alarm
- Automatic Street Lamp
- Obstacle-Avoiding Car