Teach IoT (the Internet of Things) with fischertechnik

Mark PhilippAll Topics, fischertechnik, Internet of Things (IoT)

Teach IoT (the Internet of Things) with fischertechnik

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is an increasingly big deal in our everyday lives. With so much technology involved in the field, it’s easy to see why teaching students about IoT and how to work with it can be a great opportunity to teach a variety of STEM concepts. But, how do we go about teaching such a vast topic? In this post, we will talk about what IoT is and why it is important for education. I will share some statistics about the growth of this exciting field. Then we will discuss a solution developed for classroom use, the fischertechnik Robotics Sensor Station IoT.

What is IoT?

IoT - Internet of ThingsWikipedia defines IoT as “the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these things to connect, collect and exchange data.” Essentially, the internet of things (IoT) is a bunch of electronic devices that are able to collect and share their data with other electronic devices to perform some computation or trigger an action with that data. However, as this field grows, the definition is being broadened to simply describe objects that “talk” to each other.

An example of IoT that is probably in your life already is the pedometer (such as Fitbit, LetsFit, etc.). As you know, a pedometer is a wearable device that tracks the number of steps you’ve taken. However, the wearable device is only some sensors and an embedded CPU that performs computations on the sensor data and sends that data somewhere else. Where does the data go? Most often it goes to your phone via an app. The app then parses the information from the pedometer and organizes it into graphs and often can perform statistical analysis of your walking trends, create alerts, etc.

Why do pedometers fall under the umbrella of IoT? Because it is a system that relies on multiple disconnected pieces of hardware and software interacting with each other to perform multiple functions. Everything part plays a role. The wearable pedometer, your phone, and the application all work together to gather, share, collect, and use that data. This interconnection between the hardware and software of multiple devices is the key point here.

Why is IoT Important in Education?

IoT is on track to be a massive technological force in our everyday lives in the next 10 years. The number of IoT devices is expected to increase from ~15 billion devices in 2015 to ~75 billion devices in 2025. This means there is going to be a huge demand for skilled specialists who can work in the realm of hardware, software, IT, and more. Getting students started with this technology will help put them in an advantageous position for the future.

IoT Internet of Things Connected Devices

With this massive adoption comes lots of money. An estimated $6 trillion will be spent on IoT between 2015 and 2020. That number is likely to be larger after 2020. Some analysis has put the number closer to $9 trillion. Regardless of which analysis is right, the point is that there’s a lot of investment going on for IoT currently. And this initial investment will also mean long-term investment since devices and infrastructure will need to be maintained and updated regularly.

Growth of IoT

Again, this means more demand for skilled workers who know how to work with some aspect of the complex network of systems in IoT. The data in the image above shows a general breakdown of where this investment is being spent. This field is going to bring huge demand for Software Engineers, IT workers, Network Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Computer Engineers, and more. All these fields are generally well-paid, too. Getting students started with IoT now will help them develop an important skill set for their futures.

fischertechnik Sensor Station IoT

fischertechnik Education Robotics Sensor Station IoTThe complexity of IoT can make it a difficult topic to teach. You need multiple sensors, a CPU to interface with the sensors, a way to connect the sensors to the CPU, and software to program those sensors. fischertechnik Education has created an excellent kit that puts IoT learning all in one place. The fischertechnik Robotics Sensor Station IoT uses an environmental sensor, brightness sensor, USB camera, encoder motors, push buttons, LEDs, the Robotics TXT controller, and ROBO Pro software to provide a comprehensive IoT learning solution.

This kit serves as an introduction to IoT by providing students with the opportunity to build several useful configurations and manipulate data from the sensors using block-programming in the ROBO Pro software. Students can build a lighting module that uses a photoresistor to measure brightness in the room and turn on some LED lights if it gets too dark. Another configuration is building a noise sensor that detects loudness and turns on different colored lights based on the intensity of the sound. The students can set up a module that uses a wellness sensor, which provides atmospheric pressure, humidity, and air temperature readings.

The biggest configuration in the kit is the sensor station with the movable camera. With this configuration, students combine multiple sensors into a single station that monitors humidity, air pressure, temperature, brightness, and uses a camera to perform motion detection. This kit sends the data to the Robotics TXT controller, which is then manipulated in the ROBO Pro software to create graphs and alarm functionality for when motion is detected on the camera. Additionally, this kit makes use of fischertechnik’s cloud site. This site allows the ROBI TXT controller to connect to fischertechnik’s service, so your sensor data can be accessed over the web. The idea is to have a globally accessible sensor station, which mimics real-life sensor stations that can be accessed remotely.

Learn More – Register for Webinar

That wraps up our brief introduction to the internet of things and the fischertechnik Sensor Station IoT. This is going to be a big technological force in the coming years. Getting students started with the tech early and teaching them how to tinker with it is a great way to set them up for a successful future. If you want to learn more about the fischertechnik Sensor Station and IoT, take a look at our webinar schedule for the next fischertechnik IoT webinar we offer. In the webinar, I go into more depth about this powerful set and the changing landscape of IoT. Thanks for reading!

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