Do you want to get kids excited about technology? Here’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. EE Times and the Innovation Generation (iGen) team have just started the “Fall 2011 Student LED Challenge” and teachers can register a team until July 31. This Challenge gives students an opportunity to use a free kit of parts–LEDs, resistors, transistors, switches, and so on–along with a free Microchip Technology MCU development kit. Total value $US 150. (Teachers and teams don’t have to buy anything to register and compete in the Fall Challenge.)
The theme for the Fall Challenge centers on “Community or School Pride,” so teams will create an LED project that highlights something important to their community or school. Is your town or city the beef capital of North America or the home of the half-sour pickle? Has your junior-high or high school won a science-fair competition or a sports championship? Could a student team use a free kit of LEDs and electronic components to show the world they live in a special community or attend a stand-out school worthy of recognition? You bet, but you must get a teacher to register first!
You can point teachers to the main Challenge page at: http://igen.eetimes.com/fall-2011-student-led-challenge/. To register, teachers just click on the “Grant application” link. That page includes links to tutorial information, videos and helpful resources. The iGen team will create additional instructional material before kits ship in early September. The main Challenge Web page includes links to official competition rules and guidelines, too.
Here’s a link to a page that includes information about winners from the first LED Challenge: http://igen.eetimes.com/led-challenge-winners-announced/.
The iGen team will ship kits to teachers in early September, but teachers can use Microchip’s free software during the summer and look over the accompanying materials on the Microchip Web site.
Each team out of a maximum of 50 will receive a PICDEM Lab Development Kit, “designed to provide a comprehensive development and learning platform for Microchip’s FLASH-based 6-, 8-, 14-, 18- and 20-pin 8-bit PIC microcontrollers.” The kit includes five (5) 8-bit PIC microcontrollers. I’ve included a photo of the kit, and you can find more information and download software tools, documents, and lessons at the Microchip Web site: http://www.microchip.com/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&nodeId=1406&dDocName=en539716.
By the way, if you’d like to help a teacher learn more about electronics before the Fall Challenge, I recommend the book, “Make: Electronics: A Hands-On Primer for the New Electronics Enthusiast,” by Charles Platt, published by O’Reilly Media, ISBN: 9780596153748. It’s well illustrated (often in color) and provides a lot of helpful information. Also, I found many titles at Amazon.com that deal with PIC microcontrollers. A nearby library might have some of these books. –Jon Titus