Introduction to Robotics with Arduino and Scratch

Alex Jacobs and William Douglas, Coder Kidz Part of CW16

Arduino this, Arduino that. Maybe you’ve heard of it before, maybe you haven’t. Chances are, you haven’t — and even if you have, you probably have no idea what it is, what it can do, or why you should even care in the first place.

A lot of people label Arduino as “Lego for techy adults”, and it’s true, at least in the sense that it lets you create amazing things by combining a bunch of tiny little components together into all kinds of arrangements. But it’s much more than that, too.

Even if you aren’t a techy individual, you should still try Arduino. Not only is it a lot of fun, but along the way you’ll sharpen your mind, pick up several useful real-life skills, and build a bunch of satisfying stuff.

If you’re into the whole smart home craze, then you’ll be happy to know that Arduinos are capable of doing things like controlling Philips Hue smart lights, whether manually or with a motion sensor. You can get more advanced with other Arduino home automation ideas, too.

If you’re a fan of the latest Star Wars film, then you’ll probably love this one: creating a life-size BB8 droid that you can control with your smartphone. It’s one of the coolest Arduino projects ever and really shows what can be done with a bit of creativity.

Traditionally, the learning curve for programming has been rather steep. Not only is the syntax foreign, but it can take a while before the logic of programming clicks in your head. For most people, it’s a frustrating experience. The good news is that Arduino code is forgiving. It still has a learning curve, and it’s not exactly easy, but it’s definitely easier than trying to code your first mobile app or video game. Indeed, Arduino can be a stress-free way to wet your feet in coding.

You don’t have any coding experience? No problem, you don’t need to!
Using our Scratch Extension called Eve you can start working on your first Arduino project within few minutes and learn how to control servos, motors, LEDs as well as reading and using data from sensors.

In case you are wondering, Scratch is a free visual programming language which is used by students, scholars, teachers, and parents to easily create animations, games, etc. and provide a stepping stone to the more advanced world of computer programming.

Alex Jacobs is one of the founders and directors of Coder Kidz, a registered non-profit aiming to bring coding to all Australian schools and running large varieties of technology workshops at an affordable price for everyone.

He is the lead of a software development team building e-commerce solutions for medium and large businesses at CommerceVision. Working as a software engineer for past 14 years he has extensive knowledge in this field and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge with next generation of coders.

As the lead mentor at CoderDojo Brisbane, Alex has been involved in mentoring kids 7-17 and teaching them various coding skills from Scratch to Web Development in past 3 years and some of his ninjas are now youth mentors at coder Dojo.

William Douglas is one of the founders and directors of Coder Kidz.

He is the National Business Process Trainer for a Sales Organisation and has a fair amount of experience in developing and delivering training to a wide variety of people. He has also been a mentor, lead mentor and organiser in other code based mentoring programs for a number of years prior to starting Coder Kidz.

Although he doesn’t currently work in an IT or software related field, he has been coding on and off since he was about 10, and is constantly finding cool ways that understanding code can help him solve problems and improve on his work.