TTM Collaborative

Nuts And Bolts Class One

Nuts and Bolts is a blog about teaching students to use Raspberry Pi, Mathematica, Arduino, and low voltage circuits to study the world around them. Miles and Michael use the Nuts and Bolts blog to chronicle what they plan to teach in each class, what they actually accomplish, and what they take away from each experience. They will also discuss any insights they gain in teaching the material over at the Feel Spiel.


For their first foray into teaching they will be working with students at Wilson Focus Elementary. Their first class will consist of ten students in 4th through 6th grades. The session consists of one 50 minute class, once per week, for eight weeks.


The objective for the students is to build and apply STEAM skills. The Tech Monsters curriculum starts with learning about sensors. Each student will learn to build their own light sensing circuit. Once they have a sensor-circuit constructed, they will learn how to use a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino to program the circuit and collect data. Finally, the students will use Wolfram Mathematica to visualize the data.




As a group, the students will learn about components of the circuit and basic electrical concepts. They will then assemble their own workstations and log into the Raspberry Pi.




The students were introduced to the components of the light sensing circuit. Our initial attempts at relating the concepts of electricity and resistance were primarily met with confusion. Our expectations of the students’ familiarity with these subjects proved to be overly optimistic, and took much more time than we initially expected. Towards the end of our 50 minute class we attempted to set up, and turn on the Raspberry Pi workstations. Only one student was able to successfully turn on his workstation; we decided that we would be teaching about troubleshooting in the next class.




Our plan turned out to be too much material for the allotted time.The workstation success rate was also discouraging. It was clear that teaching the concepts of electricity and resistance needed more explanation. For the next class, we will produce learning aides, such as worksheets, to better convey the material. That said, the student’s were fascinated by the electrical components and are genuinely excited to learn about troubleshooting next week.

Nuts and Bolts