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Analyzing Arduino Sensor Data in a STEM high school classroom #Arduino

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Wolfram Research is a computer, web and cloud software company. Educator Mathew Green shared the details of a new course his team has created that analyses Arduino data in the Wolfram community forums:

My name is Matthew Green and I team-teach at Riverpoint Academy (RA) with Rick Biggerstaff. RA is a public STEM high school for 9th – 12th graders. This year, Rick and I are creating, and teaching, a new course that we call Computational Laboratory, or CompLab for short.

We describe our course like this:

“In CompLab, students will develop the skills necessary to make and defend precise arguments through the use of data. Our focus will be on observable and quantifiable relationships involving movement or change. Through personal and collaborative projects, students will use Computational Thinking and technology to make informed and justifiable decisions.”

It’s day fourteen of CompLab and we’ve just released an activity to our students that brings Arduino data into Mathematica so they can begin to analyze it in their first attempt to make and defend a claim with data. Up until now students have spent no less than one hour in Mathematica, just poking around. This will be their first attempt at connecting our CompLab tech stack (Mathematica, Arduino and Processing) to their study of rhetoric. As you can see from this first activity, our expectations of claim and justification are small, but that’s intentional. At Riverpoint Academy we’re all about giving students the chance to incubate skills needed as they move forward. We noticed last semester that many students struggled with even making a claim, so we thought it made sense to isolate that skill from the rest of the details of rhetoric at this time. This was especially important because managing the tech stack is a big challenge for many of our students this early in the course.

Mathematica is perfectly capable of communicating directly with microcontrollers like Arduino, so why not do that? Well, we will, just not yet. (Skip to the final section to read more) Our reasons for not starting there are pedagogical. Many of our students are apprehensive about reading and writing code, and we have found that Processing is a fantastic way to get started. Processing then gives purpose to Arduino and together they create the need for deeper analysis of Arduino data. We’ve seen that once students see what’s possible with the Wolfram Language, they are hooked.

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