Ever heard the saying "Stop and smell the roses?" Well when it comes to our environmental stewardship all of us need to take the time to learn the art of observation

Arduino Sensor Project

Pathway: Observing the World Around You

Can your circuit detect movement to run a motor? Yes! Use a Flex Sensor! The flex sensor uses carbon on a strip of plastic to act like a variable resistor but instead of changing the resistance by turning a know, you change it by flexing, or bending the sensor! 

Check out Circuit #9 in the SparkFun Inventor's SIK Guide. 

Experiment #9 in SIK Guide - Flex Sensor

Flex Sensor Video

Check out how the Flex Sensor works!


The Art of Observation

Pathway: Observing the World Around You

Sensors, whether analog or digital, provide feedback to the Arduino microcontroller. It allows the machine to make decisions while interacting with the world outside of the computer.

In these activities, use the arduino sensors to observe the world around you.

Experiment #7 in SIK Guide- Temperature Sensor

Experiment #2 in SIK Guide - Potentiometer


Data Collection

Pathway: Observing the World Around You

How much electricity does a toaster use? How about a T.V. or a cell phone charger? Investigation how much electricity an item uses, whether it's on or off, can help us make better decisions and save energy. 

Phantom Load

• A phantom load is the amount of energy a device consumes while in standby or sleep mode, or while turned off.
• The off button on many appliances may not really mean off; instead, it means standby. For example, appliances with remote controls or internal clocks—such as TVs, DVDs, and microwave ovens—have phantom loads. Other appliances with phantom loads include computers, printers, and plug-in battery chargers such as those for cell phones, iPods, and cameras.
• Use of a power strip can minimize the phantom energy load loss. Plug all components of a computer, TV, and so forth into the power strip. Turn off the power strip with a single switch. Anything plugged into the strip now is truly turned off.
• You can also unplug appliances when not in use.

Time to Investigate

To investigate how much energy is being used by items in your school, choose 5 items and put them in standby mode, plug them into a power strip, and then plug the power strip into a watt meter. Finally, plug the watt meter into a wall outlet. Leave the items plugged in for the school day or for 24 hours, whichever is more convenient for you.

The watt meter will provide a readout of how much electricity the items used during that time period. If you get the cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity in your area (obtained from the electric bill or from using the national average of $0.10 per kWh), you can calculate the cost of keeping those appliances in standby mode for a specific amount of time.


Energy Audit Procedures

Pathway: Observing the World Around You

How much energy does a toaster use? What is the light level in the room? How much does the temperature change by windows? By using the tools in this station, you can collect data on how much energy is used and begin to find ways to be more efficient. 

Energy Audit

How much energy does your school use? In this activity, you will use the tools from the NE Green Schools kit to do an energy audit of the different rooms in your school.

Energy Audit Instructions

Instructions for the Energy Audit activity.

Green School Investigations Interactive

What might you discover when doing an energy audit of your school?

Green Schools Interactive


Data Mining - Making Graphs

Pathway: Observing the World Around You

Explore more of the Arduino sensors see what cool observations you can make!  You’ll be able to sense acceleration, distance, vibration, humidity, movement, ambient light, temperature, and more! Use your observations and data to create graphs that tell a story of the world around you!

Sensors: Waterproof Temperature Probe, Photo Resistor, Current Sensor, UV Sensor, Force Sensor, Soft Potentiometer, Potentiometer, Flex Sensor and more

Digital Temperature Sensor Video

Experiment #6 in SIK Guide - Photo Resistor

Experiment #10 in SIK Guide - Soft Potentiometer