Arduino is a microcontroller that can be manipulated to do a number of functions from making lights blink to running an automated cat feeder. While this is a great tool to help people get comfortable with programming and circuitry, it is necessary to understand some things….
1. Beginning programming skills are necessary to understand the software end of making the Arduino work.
2. An understanding of circuitry to ensure that the right connections are made for the project to function.
3. There are a broad range of expertise levels required for some of the things that can be done on an Arduino….definitely ease into it so it doesn’t become overwhelming and cryptic.
4. Arduino is open source…it encourages people to share projects and codes so this makes it easy to seek out support, projects, and software for using the Arduino.
This is definitely not an intuitive tool that can just be given to someone to figure out. There is some necessary direction reading and following in order for users to get a hang of it and explore its potential for creating amazing projects.
The Arduino also requires multiple supplementary materials. It requires software to work that is free to download at the Arduino website. To do anything with the Arduino you need other tools and items: LED lights,wire, breadsboards, sensors, etc. These can be bought as part of a kit from websites like Adafruit or can be bought separately.
I have been using this tool with middle schoolers who have vary diverse backgrounds in technology and programming. Overall, it is fairly easy for them to work through the preprogrammed sketches on the software but still probably might have some difficulty really navigating how coding works in terms of formats, terminology, and necessary skeleton requirements. This is a great introduction to the way programming and circuitry can work together but definitely can get hairy if they don’t understand or aren’t with someone that understands how to search for the problem area and are willing to try out possible solutions.