Tag Archives: sensors

Touch sensor programming by yr 3 and 4 with Arduino

I love touch sensors. Such an easy thing to teach in class and fun to act out with children.

Today we’ve been using a touch sensor with Scratch for Arduino. The sensor we use is the Adafruit Capacitative Touch sensortouch sensor

I like this because it’s visual (it lights up green) and is easy to program. Just hook a wire into an analog INPUT and watch the value drop.

What happens is the value is around 400 – 600 depending on the voltage. But when you touch the wire, it drops to 20 or so.

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Programming a light sensor alarm in a primary school

The basic principle of a light alarm is to measure any changes in the light levels. If the level goes above or below a certain level, something is triggered.

I like this because it teaches variables and responding to a change in that variable.

FOREVER measure the light level

IF the level changes, do something.

You can even use the > and < signs to extend it. The circuit is very simple – a light dependant resistor, 10k resistor , 3 wires and an Arduino. You can add more OUTPUTS or use Scratch on screen to do something.

This is an example of Scratch reacting – by 10 and 11 year olds.

Neopixel thermometer

I love neopixels. They’re just so bright and rapid. So I linked a 24 Neopixel ring to my thermometer. The difficult bit was the maths to convert the thermometer read out to tenths and integers.

The ring shows 4 things.

1) A read out of the integers. 0 – 17 are blue, 18 +19 are green, above 19 is red. So you can easily see the whole number temperature. I put in green so you can read it easily.

2) The decimals. There is a green marker to show 1. So 5 yellows means 0.5

3) If it’s too warm or too cold, it flashes blue or red.

4) It then checks to see if the temperature has changed within the last 10 seconds. If it’s gone up or down by more than 0.1C, it tells you. If no change, it shows white.

It’s a bit of fun. But I love staring at it. The next step is a clock.


Using Arduino and Excel to collect data

Ever wanted to collect data from your Arduino and analyse it?

You can download an add on for Excel here . It’s from Parallax and allows you to send data via a Com Port and it will be collected.

So I’ve done this with my fish tank (a constant 23 celsius today give or take) and a light sensor. It gets darker as the sun goes down :)

So many ideas. You can link several sensors to it so all you need to do is think of the data you want to collect.

Motors used with Scratch

Stimulate their imagination


This is an Arduino robot. Pupils make their own robots using the motors,sensors and wheels provided. They use Scratch for Arduino to program the robots and to make them function. The robots can be pre- programmed to carry out a routine or can be operated wirelessly using the Raspberry Pi.

Pupils are able to take advantage of a wide range of sensors and outputs.


Sensors, sensors, sensors!!

We can teach your pupils to work with a whole range of sensors. Essentially a sensor works by applying power to it. A signal goes to the microcontroller telling you the value of the sensor. As the sensor changes, the signal value changes.

We can teach how to read that signal and to make the outputs or Scratch react as you want.

Sensors available include

  • Temperature
  • Infra – red heat (like a burglar system)
  • Light breaker – break the light beam and the system senses it.
  • Force – a weight measure
  • Flex sensor
  • Pulse sensor – reacts to the heart beat
  • Muscle sensor
  • Liquid level measure
  • ID tag sensor
  • Distance sensors
  • Touch sensors
  • Soil temperature
  • Noise sensor

Sensors can easily be integrated into any system. Pupils can write a program that allows the system to respond as you want and as to where the imagination takes them.