If you use microcontrollers, you might know SparkFun Electronics as a supplier of small development and add-on boards for Arduino modules as well as boards that use AVR, ARM, MSP430, and other MCUs. The company, which now has 140 employees, has stressed electronics for education from its founding in a dorm room several years ago.
I recently learned SparkFun has started a "crowd-funding" project to sponsor a tour that will promote electronics education throughout the US and perhaps in Canada, too. You can find the National Tour 2013 project on the Kickstarter Website. So far, the project has received 256 pledges for a total of just over $20,000. The goal is $150,000, and the fundraising phase ends on December 19 at 4:00 p.m. ET.
For every $3,000 raised, a team of highly trained instructors from SparkFun will travel to your state, or possibly your city, and donate a SparkFun Inventor's Kit Lab Pack of tools and equipment worth $1,250.
During their stay, instructors will host an all-day class to train teachers and educators about electronics. Attendees will learn how hands-on electronics integrated into a curriculum can fulfill some state and federal teaching standards (including STEM and STEAM initiatives). According to SparkFun, the tour could include as many as 300 stops if the Kickstarter community pitches in with pledges. (Pledges don't require payment until the project reaches it's goal, and pledgers receive several types of gifts for each pledge level.)
Here's an opportunity for a quick fundraising project parents and students could jump into. A pledge to the SparkFun Kickstart project instead of holiday shopping might give your school or community the opportunity to inject some electronics into classroom activities. And teachers would learn how to integrate electronics into science and math classes. I'll make a pledge as soon as I finish writing this blog.