Physical Computing & Robotics

This is a largely self-directed and flexible course that is project-oriented and driven significantly by student interests. During the three mods, students develop experience with basic programming in C, circuit design and breadboarding, LED lighting effects, sensors, motors, and servo control. With their new skills, students are able to modify their own robots and build custom creations, which they display during the Interactive Robotics Open House at the end of the academic year. Students who are uncomfortable applying science and mathematics to everyday situations may find this course provides practical and relevant ways to help refine and augment their own knowledge of science and mathematics. This course fulfills the physical science requirement. Students take the following modules in order, and students who have successfully completed AP Computer Science may begin with the second module rather than the first.

Introduction to Physical Computing: Module 1
In this introductory mod, students focus mostly on C++ coding techniques and hardware interactions used with embedded controllers. Students build circuits using breadboards and printed circuits to work with LED lighting effects, sensors, motors, displays, audio emitters, and other devices.

Sensing the World with Robotics: Module 2
In this mod, students focus on the integration of electronic sensory devices into mobile autonomous robotics. Each student has their own robot to work with. Once the student has shown an understanding of programming basics, CAD design, and electronics, they are on their own to create, build, and program one or more robotic applications that will perform some autonomous tasks, usually incorporating simple feedback-control systems.

Independent Projects in Physical Computing: Module 3
In this culminating mod, students focus on building custom creations blending all available resources of the previous two mods. The sky is not the limit but just another challenge in this module. Students get an opportunity to challenge themselves to create devices that incorporate embedded controllers into a plethora of creations from autonomous drones and submarines to wearable fashion and game controllers. It’s up to each student to design and prototype a show-worthy system or device.

Min-Max Credit Hours: 1.0-3.0