By Melissa Hernandez
|Students learned how to create a|
“musical keyboard” with an Arduino microcontroller
Electrical engineering students at UC San Diego didn’t let the changing demands of a virtual fall quarter stop them from sharing their love of engineering with the next generation. Students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering 198 Directed Study course, organized by the Eta Kappa Nu(HKN) engineering honor society, partnered with a local elementary school to develop a curriculum highlighting engineering and electronics through the engaging topic of music, and taught the course virtually to a 5th grade class.
“I am glad that we were able to introduce this to them. The students that were enthusiastic and inspired by this were the brightest part of my week,” said Joel Bisarra, an electrical engineering student who spearheaded the outreach effort. “I am ultimately very happy that I started this program and that I was able to go out and teach students the wonders of my major. It may not have been as extensive as I wanted it to be, but it was still a great experience nonetheless.”
The ECE 198 course was originally designed for students to develop a curriculum and teach pre-college level coursework to high school students. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team was forced to rework their curriculum into entirely virtual lessons, which proved difficult for high school teachers to incorporate into their lesson plans. The ECE 198 team was able to connect with Chollas Mead Elementary School 5th-grade teacher Thomas Courtney, who was interested in including a coding curriculum in his class, and making it work virtually.
The UC San Diego students worked with Courtney to develop lesson plans and activities for the 5th grade level, and then held four mock lessons to test their material with about eight of the 5th-grade students. With the kinks worked out, the team then taught eight full lessons with Courtney’s whole 5th grease class.
“The reality is that our students, most of them, really benefited from this program,” Courtney said. “Many of these students will not see a program like this in their K-12 experience, so this is just everything. It’s not just about the content but also about the appreciation and the exposure to it.”
|A "volume meter"|
“I based the program on the intersection between music and electronics. We taught the students how to make a keyboard, spectrogram, or guitar pedal with electronics.” Bisarra said. “Music is a good reference point because of the analogies with audio and electrical signals.”
The fall quarter ECE 198 outreach effort was a success, but the students aren’t stopping there. HKN plans to continue supporting the course in future quarters, and is expanding a similar class in the departments of Computer Science and Engineering, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. All three classes are planning to virtually teach their courses in the spring quarter.