Make Your Own Teaching Tools

As part of our sixth-grade capstone project, The Legends of the Trash Creatures, students learn coding and robotics skills through the Hummingbird Robotics platform, the micro:bit, and MakeCode. We take students through basic operations like turning an LED on and off, controlling a servo motor, and sensing the environment through changes in light and distance to an object. Students then embed the robotics into the creatures they design and build to bring them to life.

To teach these concepts in a compact and straightforward manner, I designed and laser-cut a controller board to assemble all of our potential components in one place. This way, we can see and test results as we adjust the code.

Below is an image of the controller board with all components attached. I use nylon standoffs to secure the Hummingbird, the distance sensor, and the dial sensor to the board. While we implement a few different sensors in our projects, I selected the light, distance, and dial sensors for use here. Our rotation servos are of the micro variety, so I reduced their slot size accordingly. I also 3D printed some caps to place over the LEDs to diffuse their lights.

If you’d like to laser cut one of these controller boards for yourself, here are the files:

Thank you to Celeste Moreno for sharing a version she designed that shows the positional servo’s arc of motion. She also adapted the distance sensor placement to fit the newer model.

Lastly, here is a blog post about those 3D-printed LED caps. I would love to hear from you if you decide to cut this file and if you make any changes that better suit your projects, teaching style, or existing resources.

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