WEEK 5: Sensing the physical world


2/12 – Outline due
2/19 – Progress update
2/22 – Your presentation

Note: The lesson template is here.


You should cover the following material as you see fit. Please note that you do not have to provide examples or demo all of the sensors listed.

Inputs: Sensors + Signal processing

  • What is the transduction?
  • What is analog input? How does it work? How is it different from digital input?
  • Raw data vs processed data

Overview: Sensors

  • Sensors give computers the ability to sense the world around them.
  • Different types of sensors
    • See: Photocell, PIR Motion Sensor, Infrared Proximity Sensor, Ultrasonic Range Finder, Color sensor
    • Listen + Sense Vibrations: Tiny Microphone, Piezo Vibration Sensor
    • Touch: Capacitance sensing, Pressure sensors, Flex sensors, Stretch sensors
    • Weather: Humidity sensors, Temperature sensors, Barometric Pressure sensor
    • Position: Accelerometer/Gryoscope, Tilt switch
  • What are some examples of projects that use sensors in interesting ways?

Connecting Your Sensor to Arduino

  • Sample code
  • Reading incoming data through the serial monitor
  • Making sense of your data (i.e. mapping, smoothing, constraining, etc)

Connecting to Processing

  • Use serial communication to have Processing visualize sensor data
  • Show related projects as inspiration
  • Choose 1-2 sensors to focus on and have students follow along as a large group. Have them try to hook up another sensor as an activity.
  • Divide students into teams. Have each member of your group run a station for ~ 20 minutes showing how to hook up a sensor, then rotate student teams.
  • Use example Arduino code and modify it. If you choose to have students use code you created, be sure to post it somewhere they can easily access it and make sure it is well commented.