How Arduino Certification helps shape students’ futures

Parklands College is a progressive school that has fully embraced technology, providing a richly-layered learning environment that prepares students for their future. Many subjects and courses lead to international certifications, including Arduino Certification, something that’s essential for both teachers and learners.

Meet Richard Knaggs, Director of Technology Innovation; Paul Mayers, Associate Principal of Innovation; Fungai Changunda, electronics teacher; and Noah Kemp, grade 12 student.

Parklands College has been pioneering STEM in education since 2004, when they first established their robotics program. Director of Technology, Richard Knaggs, says, “What’s essential for us is experiential learning. We want our learners to have experiences within the school space that will spark and ignite their real interests. When we first introduced our robotics and coding program, our learners began to prototype and build solutions to real problems using digital technologies. And what we found as we developed the program further was that they started wanting to do more with electronics.”

Students started working on their projects at home and coming up with innovative solutions to the world’s challenges. Richard had students building prototype boats that collect plastic from the surface of the ocean, robots which communicated with each other when playing robot football, and much more.

A dedicated STEM space

In turn, this sparked the idea of building the “Experium Workshop”, a dedicated space where learners can invent “minimum viable products” (MVPs) and participate in all kinds of STEM programs, including digital and electronics training, laser cutting, and 3D printing, through a challenge based learning approach.The Experium Workshop, which opened in 2020, is designed to give learners real career opportunities that allow them to experience what real world projects entail.

Richard says

“The vision of the Experium is to get our learners to think about how they can make human life easier through the use of digital technologies, and the IoT space is one that we are currently very interested in. We brought in a digital electronics teacher as a way of building a foundation for learners in this area, where the learning is hands-on problem-solving through the creation of innovative products. And that's where Arduino comes in. It’s a well-known platform that’s available all over the world, and there are lots of resources available for it as well.”

Paul Mayers, Associate Principal of Innovation, adds,

“Arduino is a great way to bring all this together in our curriculum and integrate learning across subjects. It gives our learners an understanding of what's possible in terms of how code meets the real world.”

Credits: Parklands College

Fungai Changunda, Parklands’ electronics teacher, says,

“What better place to start than with Arduino? I looked at other STEM products as well, but what I like about Arduino is that it gives our learners a lot of room for growth. People use Arduino to solve real-world problems, like building ventilators during the pandemic. Knowing that I can also address such issues and actually teach our learners how to do something that solves real problems is very motivating for me as an educator.”

Using Arduino in cross-curricular projects

One of the projects that Fungai and Paul have used Arduino for is for a Grade 7 cross-curricular project that examines how different systems in the human body work. Students had to design and build a model of a system, for example to show how blood flows through a particular organ, using LEDs to highlight the flow. This project was led by the biology department, and covered design, art, coding, and electronics. And in Paul’s words, “Arduino was the glue behind all that.”

Another cross-curricular project has seen students designing a Mars rover, including using sensors to land it safely, gathering data, designing packaging, and working out how you might sell a rover in the future; and a water measuring device to help predict and combat flooding.

Expanding horizons with Arduino Certification

Although the College has only been using Arduino for the last couple of years, they are now introducing Arduino Certification for their students. Richard says, “We like to extend our subjects by making them relevant with industry recognised international certifications.”

Student Noah Kemp was actually the one who suggested Arduino Certification to his teachers. He says,

“International certifications allow for better opportunities when you're going to university. They really help you stand out, for example if you’re applying to university or an internship. I got offered an internship in New Zealand to work in a lab, and I know having international certifications helped me get that.”

Credits: Parklands College

Richard goes on to say,

“We want to certify all learners in grades 10 through 12 with the Arduino certification because we believe that it will give them a really good electronics foundation for their futures. They will be able to create very impressive projects while at school, and overall it forms an important part of building a culture of invention and entrepreneurship at the College. Integrating international certifications form part of our vision to extend our learners’ skill sets beyond the standard curriculum. This enhances our learners’ attractiveness to employers and universities and provides hands-on experience that allows for building their futures while still at school.”

Noah adds,

“I think Arduino Certification really improves your skills and helps you get into an actual robotics career. It’s a really good introduction, covering all the fundamentals - and, yes, it's the first step, but it's necessary if you want to get a job in a STEM field.”

Certify your knowledge of Arduino in the field of programming & electronics by taking the official exam.