Fabrication and Microcontrollers Students Complete Their Final

Upper School Engineering students completed a final assessment requiring them to employ a wide range of skills they learned throughout the fall semester.

Co-teachers Elizabeth Druger and Brianna Ifft want their Fabrication and Microcontrollers class to be a “maker-lab” class for juniors and seniors who want to explore creative design and problem-solving. In the first half of the semester, students develop skills in technical representation and documentation through 3D computer modeling, using the Onshape Computer Aided Design software to produce 3D-printed and laser-cut prototypes. During the second half, students program a microcontroller, using the Arduino IDE language, to respond to inputs and control various devices, such as LEDs, sensors and servo motors.

Teachers asked students to put all they had learned into practice by working in pairs to design a device that incorporated both Arduino and CAD to accomplish an objective of their choice, while demonstrating their newfound skills as engineers. Upper School students shared a diagram or sketch of their project with JK students and explained how it would work so that JKers could ask questions and provide feedback.

During a multi-week period, students brainstormed ideas, devised supply lists, designed and coded to achieve their objectives. Final projects included a contraption that released glitter from above onto a person below using a distance sensor, an indoor basketball backboard that kept score with an optical sensor during play and a device that applied sprinkles on cupcakes using automation.

With the projects complete, the Upper School engineers invited the JK students to their classroom to see the final projects their older counterparts had created. Despite some last-minute technical malfunctions, all involved in the experience learned a great deal.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.