Attention, middle-school and high-school students and teachers. Electronic Engineering Times (EE Times) has started an “Innovation Generation” competition that will involve teams of students that design interesting projects that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs). During the first phase, teachers will submit a short essay of 500 (or fewer) words that describe how they would use the “LED Challenge” as a teaching tool. The top 50 submissions will each receive a grant that includes $100 worth of LEDs and components, and a $100 educational grant to attend an online seminar that describes the kit and how to use it in a classroom. The first phase ends on January 15th, 2011, so get your essay on its way ASAP.
Each kit includes individual LEDs, 7-segment numeric displays, bar-graph LEDs, photocells, buzzers, resistors, capacitors, switches, pushbuttons, transistors, and a plug-in power supply.
You can find a grant application and more information such as Challenge Rules (legal stuff), Challenge Guidelines, and Project Submission Guidelines at: igen.eetimes.com/student-led-design-challenge. You’ll also find a tutorial about LEDs that explains how to control them, how to use transistors to turn LEDs on or off, and so on. A short video shows how to control many LEDs with only a few lines, and a link to the “What’s a Microcontroller?” web site points you to more information if your team wants to use a microcontroller in its project. Microcontroller use is optional.
Teachers who receive a grant and a parts kit will form a student team to work on an LED project, due on March 15th, 2011. That’s the second phase of the competition–your team builds something interesting or useful with the components in the kit of parts. An LED team project might include a game, an aid for people with disabilities, a colorful and arty display, a score keeper for school teams, an alarm circuit, emergency lighting, lighting effects of model railroads or radio-controlled airplanes, and so on. Teams can use their imagination. (You don’t submit the completed project, just a description and photos that show how it works.)
Awards for Phase-2 projects include a grand prize that takes the winning team’s teacher to the San Jose, CA 2011 “Embedded Systems Conference” and honors the teacher and the project at the Ace Awards Ceremony (Tuesday, May 3, 2011).
The second-place team and honorable-mention teams will receive awards and grants for science, technology, engineering, and math equipment and materials.
If you know a student, middle-school or high-school teacher, let them know about this exciting kids-only competition. Have fun! –Jon Titus