The think|haus entry into the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge sponsored by Element14 is finished. Mostly.
think|tubes are an educational tool for use in a K-12 school setting. They function as a multimeter for the real world. Learning concepts such as mechanical advantage is much easier if students can see and measure the effects of gears, levers, pulleys, etc. Other concepts are difficult because processes occur over time, and are not easily observable. Data logging allows long term observation, making time elapsed changes visible and measurable.
Our concept for think|tubes was to make an expandable, modular system which allows the measurement and recording of various physical phenomena. We’ve built some sample exercises, such as a device to measure how hard someone can punch. This fun activity engages students, while teaching concepts of levers, acceleration, and force. Other sensors, such as light, temperature, barometric pressure, etc. are easily added to the think|tubes, allowing for customized usage. Any lesson plan that would benefit from experimentation and measurement can use think|tubes.
Beyond measurement in the classroom, however, think|tubes can be used throughout the school. An applause meter at a school talent show, a game show buzzer system for fun quizzes, or a timing system for track and field – all of these uses are easy to add to think|tubes due to its modular design, standard Arduino hardware, and the bus which allows communications between modules.
One of the great strengths of the think|tubes system is its flexibility. It can be used by anyone – no technical knowledge is required. The various measurement tasks are menu driven, and can be operated by staff or students at all levels without any specialized training. However, for those more technically inclined, the system has limitless possibilities. Additional sensors can be added, new code can be written to accommodate almost anything educators and their students can dream up.
think|tubes make learning tangible. They provide a hands on way to interact with the physical world. Think it, do it, measure it, learn it. With think|tubes.