Curriculum: Device Invention

Course Description (10th-12th Grade):

The main goal of this course is to make students feel more comfortable and nimble with the process of designing and creating interactive electronic devices. Refined craftsmanship is balanced with rapid prototyping, as we build circuits, mechanics, code, and enclosures for a variety of creative machines. Some projects are collaborative and require students to practice the collective arts of teamwork, inclusion and compromise. The instructor will act as a curator/facilitator guiding students through specific themes - at times learning with them - through experiments, lectures, guests, and online documentation. The course offers more project freedom than the Analog and Digital course, with the expectation that each student take ownership of the learning process by seeking answers from any and all sources including: provided documentation, peers, online resources, and the instructor. Finally, it is important to put everything we do in context by asking “why?” and “for whom?” do we do these projects. Throughout this course we will reference this central question: What are the long term implications of an increasingly automated and connected world? The three themed projects created in this course include: Wireless Device Communication (Wifi, Bluetooth, Cellular), Environmental Sensor Data Collection and Visualization, and Solar Powered Devices.


  • Project One (short): Automation: Drawing Machines : This project will ask students to work in groups of two to create a drawing machine. The machine must use very simple motors and electronics along with physics to create a set of “beautiful” drawing that will be put on display in the foyer.  This project accompanies a discussion on automation.
  • Project Two: Data Stories : Data Collection and Visualization :This project asks students to use a microcontroller and a single sensor to collect data on a community.  The data will then be analyzed and represented in a creative way using a variety of software.  These representations can be visual (graphs,drawings), auditory(sounds,songs) or physical (build or print something). The project will be accompanied by a discussion on representing live events through data.
  • Project Three: Connected: Wireless Magic : This final collaborative project asks students to design a device that communicates over one of the following protocols: Radio-frequency, Wifi, Bluetooth, or SMS.  The project will be accompanied by a discussion on the implications of a wireless and increasingly connected world.

Course Syllabus