Learn how to use sensors: ‘Family Projects for Smart Objects’ – #bookreview

Family Projects for Smart Objects

Tabletop Projects That Respond to Your World

John Keefe

Maker Media – paperback, Kindle

Written for parents, teachers and students (including homeschoolers), this nicely presented how-to book shows beginners how to connect a variety of sensors such as thermometers, distance sensors, and light-sensing photo cells to a computer through an Arduino microcontroller and a USB cable.

The Arduino website defines its device as:

“…an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Arduino boards are able to read inputs – light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message – and turn it into an output – activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online. You can tell your board what to do by sending a set of instructions to the microcontroller on the board.”

The book’s “smart objects” projects require a few additional electronic parts found online, plus some free programming software to use with the Arduino. (Arduino programs are called “sketches.”)

Family Projects for Smart Objects contains many how-to steps, photographs and illustrations to help make the projects easy to put together and get running. The Arduino sketches can be downloaded or even hand-typed from code listings in an appendix. Near the front of the book, instructions are provided for loading the Arduino software onto Windows, Linux and Mac computers.

Younger children likely will need close assistance with the projects in this  book. But technically adept older children, working alone or in groups, likely will need only minimal supervision.

Si Dunn

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