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Should coding and design be parted? In a smart-ies move, electronics, coding and product design have come together to help students explore new skills and gain a deeper understanding of “smart product design” – the integrated approach to technology that we champion.

This week’s maker project combines electronics, coding and product design to make BCA’s smarties (colour) counter. 

This week’s maker project is our initial prototype for a STEM colour identification and counter kit. It has been designed to encourage students to experiment with new technologies such as Arduino and its programming language, laser cutting, 3D CAD and 3D printing – to give students valuable skills highly sought after in industry.

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We decided to use Smarties, M&M’s and Skittles as the items to be detected and counted – so after sampling the tastes we began coding a program that would use a light sensor along with red, green and blue LEDs to measure the different colours of a sweet when placed above the sensor (remember the Physics of light and primary colours?).

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Smartie Counter7Working side by side with the electronics and coding, we designed a ‘proof of principle’ model to test the electronics and see how they’d fit within the housing – this was done using CAD then 3D printing the prototype.

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After a few more tweaks, we’ll get there. Even at this early stage we’ve demonstrated the project works! We’ve tested the housing, it all fits! We’ll re-design the product housing – making it more fashionable and engaging for students to get exploring. We’ll polish the code to make it easier to experiment. If you know someone who would like to try this out at their school, get in touch with us.

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To register an interest in our Smart Product Design STEM Kits, or to learn how to make items like these through our education courses, contact [email protected] –  Finally, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn