Rye Neck High School students applied their coding, building and problem-solving skills to build a complex blinking-light sequence circuit as part of an assignment in Skyler Mosenthal’s Robotics classes.
Inspired by K.I.T.T., a car in the 1980s television series “Knight Rider,” the students recreated a series of LED bulbs and coding tricks that were fundamental to the first unit of study. The students began the process by writing a sketch on the Arduino software, using the loop function, and validated it by running a test on the software. Next, they were challenged to build their designs according to the specifications in the guide to ensure the circuit was complete and that all the LED lights turned on and off.
“One intricacy was the exact placement of jumper wires, resistors and LED lights,” Mosenthal said. “Groups who thought they had a correct build had to unplug and replug wires into and out of the breadboard according to the rows and columns of the board so that electricity would flow in the correct direction.”
Throughout the design process, the students applied problem-solving skills to troubleshoot their designs and worked through trial and error to get the correct combination of resistors, placement of jumper wires and LEDs to complete the circuits.
“This degree of problem-solving requires patience, persistence, teamwork and creativity in trying to figure out what the problem may be, and also collaboration with other groups to share our best practices to make it work,” Mosenthal said.
Mosenthal said the project challenged the students to combine their coding skills with a build that required a significant amount of precision. While the blinking light wave on the “Knight Rider” car might have seemed like a simple achievement, the students learned to appreciate its complexity.
“In a world that offers us instant fixes and instant gratification for nearly everything, learning to keep going, keep trying and keep at it until arriving at success gives students immense satisfaction in their step-by-step accomplishments,” he said. “My hope is that they embrace the process as much as the final destination.”