Continuing Digital Learning Day – Don Wilde on Arduino and micro-controllers

DonWilde_tnToday Don Wilde, former Intel engineer, and FLL robotics coach/judge, was here to show our students a different side of programming – the Arduino board.

Don talked about how programming has been invading almost every part of our lives, from cars (which house dozens of computers), and houses to businesses, and libraries. (This session was fittingly held in the library – and I mentioned how students today self-check in and check out their books with a scanner and software).

He also stressed the point of how engineers are needed to design robots, and for online stores, casinos and satellites to function. “Highly-paid work today, whether it is in entertainment or communication needs engineers and programmers, and you could be one of them,” he said.

Don then demonstrated one of the devices he had put together for this, using a off-the-shelf Arduino Uno board. He connected a series of light, touch and sound sensors to show how this plug-and-play device worked.



By way of comparison, he talked about the Lego NXT robot, itself a micro-controller, with which many students in both 5th and 6th grades are familiar. We have had a robotics program in the school for the past 6 years. Thanks to Don, I have become interested in introducing Arduino to my class. Perhaps someday, we will have programming as a regular class, rather than an add-on to the curriculum!














When is too early to start building apps?

avatar_new_resizedToday, for Digital Learning Day, I’m inviting an App developer, Chris Cardinal, of Synapse Studios, to introduce our 5th and 6th grade students to apps.This is going to be an eye-opener, since I get a lot of questions about coding and app building. None of us are programmers, but I have channeled self-paced lessons through and Khan Academy before. This time, having a live app class will make a huge difference.

Tomorrow  we will have Don Wilde to introduce students to Arduino! It appears it’s never too early for students to dip their hands into computer science, and understanding programming. Thank you Chris and Don for taking time to be here at Salt River Elementary.DLDay 2016

Wed 17 Feb, 2016   – Chris Cardinal, Synapse Studios

1:00 – 1:40 pm  – 6th grades  “Creating Apps for a Digital World”                       

1:45 – 2:25 pm  – 5th Grades  “Creating Apps for a Digital World”


Thurs 18 Feb, 2016  – Don Wilde, former Intel ProgrammerDonW

1:00 – 1:40 pm  – 6th Grades  “Programming Beyond  Lego – Arduino and Beyond ”  

1:45 – 2:25 pm  – 5th Grades  “Programming Beyond  Lego – Arduino and Beyond ”  


“Are We Talking Too Much?” – Theme of Tempe launch of book

Thank you everyone who attended the second launch event for my book, Chat Republic.

The topics around the book are many, but we seemed to center on the big question as to whether social media has made us too…chatty. How real are the conversations we have, when few appear to be paying attention?

Thank you to may eminent panel who weighed in on the topic.

  • Gary Campbell, editor of ASU’s web site
  • Prabha Kumarakulasinghe – Microchip
  • Don Wilde – Intel

.Some of the topics that came up: 

  • Gold bar espresso, Tempe - Chat RepublicFace Time, Real Time. What is happening to face-time, with people busily checking their phones for possible interactions with the ‘other’? (If you haven’t seen “I forgot my phone, watch this: a statement of our times.)
  • Do we really need smart phones? Or wouldn’t ‘dumb-‘ (um, feature-) phones be adequate most of the time?
  • Transparency Vs Over-sharing. Is our ability to know so much a blessing? Yes, we want to know minutiae about public officials, but many are pulling back because of surveillance. Gary cited the example of how smart phones could help people do dumb/smart things, as in the case of the NFL Player, Brian Holloway, who tracked down the kids who trashed his home. (This story is still being played out, by the way)
  • Smart devices in the class. I enjoyed this one, for obvious reasons. There were several teachers (one principal) in the room, who face this challenge: Are mobile devices in students’ pockets going to help or hurt them?

A big thank you to Dennis and Karen Miller, owners of Gold Bar Espresso, for letting me use their wonderful coffeehouse for this event. These are the spaces –-the Kaffeehaus culture –where deep conversations have taken place for centuries!