Arduino as a Tool for student lead scientific investigations

Sanjin Dedic
Teacher, Robotics Engineer, Learning Designer
Maker movement & the Arduino microcontroller make it possible for Yr 7-10 students to conduct investigations, gather data & arrive at insights about our world.
Target Audience
Secondary Science Teachers who want to teach with technology Teachers of various elective subjects that include coding and robotics

Learning Areas

Teaching Standards

General Description

The vast majority of scientific investigations conducted today involve technology which effectively measures and records information about some aspect of our world. Today thanks to Arduino and the Maker Movement, the technology to conduct original and interesting scientific research is finally affordable, easy to use and very much classroom ready. In this workshop we will learn how to write simple programs and build circuits which measure and record data about the following:

1. The ‘shutter speed’ of the human eye
2. Human reaction time to sound and light in milliseconds
3. Grip strength in applied force in Newtons

All of this data can then be recorded, graphed and analysed enabling students to look for trends and patterns with the goal of revealing brand new insights about the human body. We will also have a hands on showcase of various other measurement setups including: Passive Infra Red (burglar alarms), ultrasonic (sonar distance) and Sound Sensors.

Australian Digital Technologies Content Descriptions Covered:

Australian Curriculum Science Inquiry Skills:


Secondary Science Teachers who want to teach with technology
Teachers of various elective subjects that include coding and robotics

Available Delivery Formats

This course contributes to 5.0 professional development hours.


There are no occurrences of Face to Face in Australia (NSW) at this time.


Introduction to Arduino, Microcontrollers and Electric Circuits

1 hour

We will learn about Microcontrollers, electric circuits and we will build simple circuits with LED’s, Piezo electric buzzers, push buttons and transistors.

We will conclude with the first program a simple LED blink code and an investigation into the blink rates to find the frequency range where they become imperceivable to the human eye.

Colour Mixing Theory and its Technological Applications

1 hour

In this activity we will set up circuits which can do two things:
1. Create any conceivable colour by mixing red, green and blue light
2. Recreate a famous experiment conducted by James Clerk Maxwell which was the origin of this discovery

Teachers will also be provided with BBC documentary footage and a whole curriculum mapped unit on the human eye.

Defining an Ideal Mindset for Your Students

30 minutes

After experiencing circuitry and coding with Arduino we can have a more informed discussion about pedagogy. Namely we will define the attitudes, habits and learning traits we want to instil in our learners. Then we will outline some strategies for motivating students and catering for various paces of learning.

Human Reaction Time Circuits and Research Possibilities

1 hour

In this session we will build a counter which starts when a light (or a buzzer) goes on and gets interrupted when a button is pressed. This very simple circuit and program effectively measure human reaction time to sound and light.

In this session we will fill out some online excel templates with our results and obtain data which could yield new insights in how reaction time correlates with age, gender, using dominant hand and the sound vs light stimulus.

Voltage Divider Circuits (Light Intensity and Applied Pressure)

1 hour

In this session we will cover the concept of voltage dividers and discuss their common applications. We will build a voltage divider circuit and then plug in two sensors one for light intensity and the other for hand pressure data.

We will discuss possible avenues for investigation with these two sensors and share spreadsheet templates.

Sensor Showcase and Implementation Q&A

30 minutes

We can only cover so much in a day session but the possibilities for Arduino student lead research are endless, in this last session we will have a look at very simple code examples using the following sensors:
1. Sound Sensors
2. Passive Infra Red (burglar alarms)
3. Ultrasonic Sensors (sonar distance measurement)

We will conclude with teachers sharing their ideas for Arduino projects they can run in their school and getting some feedback and advice on how to make these a possibility.

What To Bring

Bring the following:
Windows or MAC laptop (iPads are not sufficient)
Pen and paper

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About the team

Sanjin Dedic


Sanjin Dedić has a B.Eng in Mechatronic Systems majoring in Robotics and Computer Vision and spent several years working industry as an Engineer. He then retrained as a teacher and taught Systems Engineering and Digital Technologies at a secondary level. Recently he has been developing a series of technology programs for G.A.T.E.WAYS (gifted and talented education) covering everything from coding, robotics, applied mathematics and microcontrollers. These programs have been delivered to students in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Queensland. As a head of eLearning at Techxellent he has combined his technological expertise with his educational experience to create innovative teacher training programs and resources.