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At home Summer Camps project ideas 2020 edition

Keeping our minds sharp over the summer is often a challenge, with distractions such as mobile phone apps, video game consoles, online content, it is easy to forget that we need to be diligent about our future. This article is to help parents select home based projects to learn and share IOT knowledge.

Asking myself what will jobs look like in 3-5 years, I see a huge opportunity for new careers in IOT based technologies. IOT stands for internet of things, but you might just call it things that talk to the Internet. We already have robot vacuums, lawn mowers, drones, camera doorbells, even thermostats that adjust the temperature based on our proximity to home. At the heart of each of these components is a printed circuit board, microcontroller, and some programming instructing the components what to do. Learning via Arduino projects is easy, fun, and provide an excellent foundation for developing IOT devices. Post Arduino, we discover how 3D printing both uses microcontroller based programming, and how it can compliment your Arduino designs by creating packaging and chassis. Finally, we look at how the Raspberry Pi can be leveraged to build both highly powerful and connected devices.

The following is quick chart to help you make a selection, however, capabilities by ages does vary.

Arduino is great for learners from 7 - all ages,  
3D Printers for learners ages 11- all ages, 
and Raspberry Pi for learners 12 - all ages.  

Let get started with the projects.


Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Arduino boards are able to read inputs - light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message - and turn it into an output - activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online. You can tell your board what to do by sending a set of instructions to the microcontroller on the board. To do so you use the Arduino programming language(based onWiring), and the Arduino Software (IDE), based on Processing.

note: When purchasing the Arduino it is often beneficial to purchase a kit which offers a cost savings over purchasing components individually when getting started.

Elegoo kits and components

These are legal clones of the Arduino kits below. All the Arduino tool, tutorials, and examples work with these kits. I own both of these kits and they have provided hours of learning.

Genuine Arduino kits

More expensive but with a well defined learning curriculum that accompanies project based learning. Select the fundamentals bundle to obtain the Arduino Foundations certification. A great addition to a college application or resume.

Online Learning resources:

Just getting started, these tutorials and projects will give you weeks of learning activities. These are free to use but a few require registration.

  • Arduino to Go

  • Arduino Project Hub

  • Learn Arduino by Adafruit (all)

  • Simon Monks 18 Arduino Lessons

  • Tinkercad Circuits

3D Printers

Once we understand how to control motors, accept inputs, and read from an SD Card we can start building our own 3D Printer. While you can totally go this route, here is where I am going to recommend you spend the money to order an assembled 3D printer. There is much to learn when operating a 3D printer, versus building a 3D printer, I recommend you focus on the operating portion, primarily designing your 3D models. It's time better spent.

3D Printers Models:

Filaments favorites:

notes: purchase PLA, PTEG, - easiest to work with, depending on the rigidity you desire you can opt for ABS which products stronger builds

Helpful tips

  • Humidity causes the filament to become brittle, store it with a dehumidifier.

  • I personally found enclosed printers to provide a little better quality prints and have less errors.

  • Transparent colored filament is brittle, and very susceptible to breaking

  • Eventually you will have to perform maintenance on the printer, purchase a 3D printer tool kit.

Learning resources:

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. ... We want to see the Raspberry Pi being used by kids all over the world to learn to program and understand how computers work.

Learning Resources:

Advanced Projects

RetroPie allows you to turn your Raspberry Pi into a retro-gaming machine. It builds upon Raspbian, EmulationStation, RetroArch and many other projects to enable you to play your favourite Arcade, home-console, and classic PC games with the minimum set-up.

Ever want to know what traffic leaves your home for the internet, from which device, or how about just block those pesky adds from showing up on our web pages.

The AIY Voice Kit from Google lets you build your own natural language processor and connect it to the Google Assistant or Cloud Speech-to-Text service, allowing you to ask questions and issue voice commands to your programs. All of this fits in a handy little cardboard cube, powered by a Raspberry Pi.

What's Next?

Generating Ideas and getting started

Hackerspace by Raspberry Pi is an excellent magazine for finding your next project. The PDF version is free to download, check it out.

National Science Foundation Grants

Start using IOT to solve the next global problem, grants are available. Don't work for the future, help shape it. The National Science foundation has grants up to 1.75 million for R&D.

If you found this article useful, please let me know which portions and where you may have more questions. I have shared my ideas, now looking forward to hearing from you.

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