This is the shield that we provided to the pupils.
A group of 12 9th graders from Ritaharjun Koulu have been working at our Fab Lab for around 5 hours per day during the whole week. They have come in company of Sebastian, their technology teacher, who have provided a really valuable help to us while providing support to the pupils with their projects
In this case, the students were given totally freedom oto select their project. During the first day, Antti Mäntyniemi presented the different devices and process that we have at our Fab Lab. In addition, we showed the kids some of the previous projects completed at the Fab Lab (including some robots built by other school groups in the past). After that, we gave them totally freedom to choose whatever they would like to build. The only conditions that we imposed were that they had to use Arduino Uno as a development platform, that they should utilize at least one actuator (to choose among servos, continous servos or piezoelectric buzzer to generate sound) and that they had to build the external mechanics utilizing our laser cutter or if they had previous experience with3D development our 3D printer. In addition, we provided them with an Arduino shield built by a group of first year university students last september. The shield (sright picture) provides supports for 5 actuators (servos, buzzer ...) and a Bluetooth module. All the groups but one utilized the shield in their projects.
We did not define any deadline. Pupils were free to organize their own time. The only condition is that they should have something working by the end of the week. All the groups, in general, organized the time in a similar way. During the first day they had a brainstorm and define their project functionality as well as external appearance. They utilize mainly paper to present their concept to their colleages. During the second and the third day they built the mechanics of their system, mainly using wood and the laser cutter. One group utilized a 3D model, though. During the third and fourth day they started to attach the components (buttons, servos ...) into their projects. They also programmed the Arduino. Finally, during the last day they were mainly making the last minute adjustments and testing their projects.
During the week neither us, nor the teacher, took any leading role. We just provide dsupport to children when they asked for help or when we realized they were stucked with some problem. In addition we taught groups separately how to use the Fab Lab machines (mainly the laser cutter) and provide really short introduction to Arduino platform (description and programming) as well as on how to use Inkscape in order to create 2D models.
All in all, I think the teacher, the students and us got a really positive feeling about the group results. All the groups manage to build a prototype was able to perform basic actions. Not all they groups manage to conclude the projects, though. I think with one extra day all the projects would have been ready. In addition, some of the initial ideas were really challenging, so they had to modify the functionality dinamically to make it more realistic given the time constraint.