Future Makers introduce children and young people to programming. The open source materials are available for anyone to learn or plan similar events.
Following the Introduction to Coding, this workshop introduces the fun of coding for games.
The Ardunio workshop is a great way to combine creativity, code and the practical activity of making your own device. The Future Makers really enjoyed the novelty of soldering. It helps widen children’s vision of programming: it’s not all done on a computer. Soldering also requires eye-hand coordination and careful attention. Read the Twitter story of this workshop.
If the budget allows, the young people enjoy keeping their DIY gamer devices. The resources available online meant that they could keep programming at home. It is an excellent way to encourage children to keep coding and gain new skills.
In this session, Future Makers (age 8+) will:
- build a D.I.Y gamer
- use their creative skills to design animations on paper
- programme their animation onto their gamers
Materials & resources
- Laptop or Computer x1 per Future Maker
- DIY Gamer Kit (or pre-soldered kit) x1 per Future Maker
- USB Cable (Included in Gamer kit)
- Soldering Iron x1 per Future Maker
- Safety goggles
- Sticky tack
- Felt pens
- Supporting handouts and design sheets
A large number of video tutorials are available online.
The activities for the 8 to 11 year old group followed the plan detailed here for the 12-17 year old. For the younger group, the DIY Gamer Kits were purchased part-soldered to allow more time to be spent on each activity.
This workshop requires having a sufficient number of facilitators and trained volunteers (at least one per table) plus a few extra staff members to float between tables. Training the whole team ahead of the event, in particular in soldering and the online material used for this workshop, helps run the event smoothly. All soldering should be closely supervised.
Introduction to DIY Gamer (30 Minutes)
This workshop starts with an introduction to the world gaming, followed by an introduction to micro-controllers and Arduino, a powerful electronics platform to power robots, sensors and interactive installations.
Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It is intended for anyone making interactive projects. Arduino senses the environment by receiving inputs from many sensors, and affects its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators.
Arduino is programmed in C/C++ dialect. The IDE is written in java, and is based on the Processing project.
Build the DIY Gamer (1 hour 30 Minutes)
In this activity Future Makers learn the techniques of soldering and build their DIY Gamers.
Follow the online instructions to solder the kit together. The instruction can also be found in the gamer box. How long this step takes will depend on the skill level of the Future Makers and the amount of support available.
- How challenging did you find soldering the gamer? Did it get easier the more you practiced?
- Now that you have built the gamer do you understand how the different components work together?
Programming with Arduino (45 minutes)
After an hour lunch break, it is time to start programming with Arduino using a sample programme such as Blink. Blink checks that the gamer is functional: when the code is uploaded and the device is turned on the LED light will flash repeatedly.
- Connect the gamer to your computer using the USB Cable provided.
- Open the Arduino Program
- In Ardunio Click Tools > Board > Arduino Uno This ensures the program will connect with the Ardunio Board used in the gamer
- Click File > Examples > 01Basics > Blink This will open the code to blink the LED
- Hit the ‘tick’ symbol to verify the code for errors, and the ‘->’ arrow to upload the code onto the device.
- The LED light on the Gamer will start to flash while uploading and then continue to blink.
Turn the Gamer into a light meter
An LDR is a component that has a (variable) resistance that changes with the light intensity that falls upon it. This allows them to be used in light sensing circuits.
Use the Animation sofware (2 hours 30 mins)
In this activity Future Makers learn how to use the animation software to upload animations onto the Ardunio and design their own animations.
Hand out Animation design sheets and squared paper and plan your animation.
- You will need to download the processing software and the animation generator software
- Open .pde file which provides backing code that will run the software
- Hit run button, to bring up the animation generator.
- When you have finished your animation you can generate a code that you can use on your ardunio.
- Put the code into the Ardunio programme and upload it onto your gamer.
Design Your Game (30 minutes)
When you get home or during a further workshop, Future Makers could start using the design sheets, you can begin creating your own games.
Visit the Technology Will Save Us website for more videos.