Computers and instrumentation, opening the black box
This activity takes a full three hours to complete so rather than attempt to do it we will walk through how to prepare the kits (these need to be assembled once and can then be used again and again) teach the lab and some of the pitfalls and how to deal with them.
This activity introduces students to electrical circuits, building a temperature sensor, calibrating the sensor, altering a computer code and taking some data with the sensor. Although this sounds complicated the activity is organized in such a way that it is very successful in the classroom. I would like to introduce the activity to educators because it appears to be complex, but isn't. By overcoming that initial reluctance I hope more people will use the activity.
I use this activity prior to having students go on a short oceanographic cruise and use the CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth sensor). That instrument is the workhorse on an oceanography cruise and the activity proposed here gives students insight into how that instrument works.
Why It Works
This activity is very effective. Prior to doing it the students have had no experience building electrical circuits and looking at and modifying computer code. The activity uses Arduino technology, which has a strong online community with lots of hobby based applications. So should students be interested in this it is easy for them to continue to learn on their own. I look at this activity as opening a door for the students. Not all will walk through, but some will now be empowered to if they so choose.