Activity 4 - Analog v.s. Digital

Activity 4 - Analog v.s. Digital

Exploring analog electronics by controlling the speed of a motor.

After a week’s break for midterm exams, our activities have resumed! This week the students constructed a simple motor-control circuit to introduce the concept of analog electronics. The students also tried a new tool, the multimeter, which they used to directly observe the analog values. Unfortunately, most students were away for the long-weekend after exams, so only 22 of our usual participants were present, 12 boys and 10 girls1 (55%:45%). The up-side was that we could combine our 4 sessions into 2 longer sessions, and the students made great use of the extra time exploring the activity’s open challenges. For example, students changed their motor control circuit to control the brightness of an LED, or control both the motor and an LED. Some students even got the two to change inversely to each other, so the LED was all the way on when the motor was stopped.

We have begun the process of formalizing the club and its members. So far, the activities have been open to anyone from Grade 4 to 9. We’re now defining a group of members who are committed to attending every activity. This will allow us to better organize the activities and build upon the concepts we’re exploring. Our plan now is to on-board new members every two months and have student leaders in the club teach them the first few activities so they have the same fundamentals as existing members. The students voted on potential club names and decided to call ourselves the Himalayan Makers Guild! Each member will receive a folder as a sort of club membership card where they can keep their activity handouts. As the group solidifies over the next couple of weeks, we will be in a position to start diving into more complex projects that require multiple sessions to explore.

Activity 4 has been made as a Free Cultural Work and is available for use and adaption under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license. As per the constraints outlined in Activity 1, the activity does not require consistent access to electricity.

Originally we were going use small vibrating motors but we lost them just before the activity. Instead, we used small DC motors with a piece of tape attached to the axle to make the rotation speed more obvious. Notably, many of the potentiometers were damaged by accidental short-circuit connections; it’s a good idea to have extras on-hand. The part-costs were $8.69 CAD per kit, with $0.51 worth of parts likely to be consumed during the activity2. With 22 participants, the price per student came to $4.36.

  1. SMD has a nearly equal gender distribution among boarding students, with 175 boys and 174 girls. 

  2. Please see the lesson plan for a full cost-breakdown and purchasing details.