I teach at the University of Missouri, and I wanted a method to add some “Gamification” to my exam review exercises. There is a lot of evidence and research that using a game in class can help with student learning (it activates different pathways in the brain (social, reward, motor-sensory, etc.). For a quick summary, check out The Five Benefits of Adding Gamification to Classrooms. Gamification:
Boosts enthusiasm toward math
Lessens disruptive behavior
Increases cognitive growth
Incorporates mature make-believe which encourages growth and development, and
Improves attention span through game-centric learning.
So when I saw a blog post on the Adafruit site about using and modifying a set of cheap game show controllers ( Wireless Game Show Poppers for the Classroom! Pro Trinket + Hacked Duo Pop Game = Game Show Fun!), I thought this might be a great solution. However, as I played with this solution more, I decided that I needed something that would be free standing and not require a particular piece of software or computer connection to work. At that time, I had also started playing with the 16×8 1.2″ LED Matrix (https://www.adafruit.com/products/2039) and loved the display and scrolling text that you could make. So, I set off to come up with a stand-alone Game Show Controller, that would use the POP IR transmitters, with four 16X8 LED matrixes that would display scores, status, etc.
With the 16×8 LED Matrix Backpack we’ve doubled your project’s matrix capacity by making it super easy to get two separate 8×8 matrices onto one handy board! Matrices like these are ‘multiplexed’ – so to control 64 LEDs you need 16 pins and to control 128 LEDs, you’d need 24 pins. (read more)
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.