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Published February 23, 2016
A little gizmo provided by the University of Wyoming is assisting some Green River High School students in an engineering project that involves monitoring movement of an invasive fish species in the Green River.
The school’s College Prep Biology (CPB) students are using arduinos in their work. An arduino is a computer that has inputs and outputs, essentially “Legos with brains,” as described by Jeffrey Anderson, a lecturer in the UW Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
“The CPB students are collecting and analyzing data on the Green River and movement on the invasive burbot in the river,” says Allison Baas, who teaches biology, college prep biology and physical science to ninth-12th graders at Green River High School. “They are working on a hypothesis to try to determine a suggested management strategy to keep the burbot out of the river.”
Burbot, the only fish from the cod family that lives in fresh water, is considered an invasive species in southwest Wyoming.
“Bob Kubichek (a UW associate professor of electrical and computer engineering) has helped me by developing an arduino system that will pick up the frequencies of fish in the Green River,” Baas explains. “We have three systems that will record data for frequencies of transmitters from fish and temperature of the river. This is the big project that the CPB students are taking part in with the Wyoming Game and Fish and Trout Unlimited.”
Due to download issues of data and time constraints on experimentation, the project has had a few bumps along the way, Baas says. However, she says the students did get all receivers working in January and have tracked the burbot in the river and back into Flaming Gorge Reservoir. However, a recent snowstorm created a situation in which students have been unable to access one of two station placements.
“It will be interesting to see what’s on the ad cards,” when the students are able to retrieve all of the information, Baas says.
One other arduino kit is being used to explore different student project possibilities at Green River High School, Baas says.
“I currently have a student working on arduinos to demonstrate what technologies he would want on a satellite to explore stars,” she says. “I am hopeful that these exploration projects will be a great avenue for students interested in engineering to demonstrate their knowledge of science and increase engagement.”
|Callee Catlin, a sophomore at Burlington Middle School, uses her computer to relay written code to what a wired arduino is doing and attempts to translate the arduino’s action. (Nikki Butler Photo)
Arduino Friday Occurs at Burlington Middle School
At Burlington Middle School, Nikki Butler says one of the students in her eighth-grade math class always reminds her it’s “arduino Friday.”
“It has become our way of saying ‘hello,’” says Butler, who teaches a number of math classes at the K-12 school, located roughly 40 miles from Cody. “We pass one another with a smile and the kind words, ‘Arduino to you!’"
Butler, from Cody, has incorporated the arduino kits into an algebra II-level course.
“As a math teacher, the application I use to justify the time is that it will teach the kids about computer programming. Our goal is to be competent enough to transfer that knowledge to programming our calculators,” she says. “The computer language and understanding the commands will teach them about basic programming, which can be applied to programming their calculators.”
Her students work on the project once a week and are making steady progress, says Butler, who hopes to eventually incorporate the arduino kits in her algebra 1, pre-calculus and trigonometry classes.
As of late, Butler says her students have attempted to "compose" their own code for a song they are writing into arduino code, and then will play their compositions.
Last summer, UW’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering hosted teachers from Green River and Wheatland high schools, and Burlington Middle School, during an Engineering Summer Camp at UW. The goal was to train teachers to teach high-performance computing in their schools, says Suresh Muknallipatna, a UW professor of electrical and computer engineering.
For the next three years, Wyoming high school teachers will visit campus for summer workshops to learn how to use arduinos as well as raspberry pis (a computer on a card that is similar to an Intel processor), and teach their students, Muknallipatna adds.