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Halloween is a great opportunity for teachers to get their students involved in creative projects while also engaging with some fundamental coding and electronics techniques. Classroom-friendly devices such as BBC micro:bit, Raspberry Pi and Codebug offer the perfect combination of functions and capabilities to add a high-tech twist to some classic Halloween design projects. We collected some of our favourites...


Bat with flapping wings - BBC micro:bit


Microbit Bat


The 3D printing and electronics experts at Kitronik came up with this simple but effective project for creating a Halloween bat with flapping wings. The flapping effect is achieved by attaching a BBC micro:bit to a servo, which is in turn connected to the perspex bat wings by pieces of string. As the servo rotates back and forth, the wings are moved in such a way that the bat appears to be really flying, making for an excellent halloween decoration and a handy electronics and design project all in one.


Read the full project guide...


Pumpkin Pi - Raspberry Pi



Our very own community member fustini came up with this great design for a Halloween Jack'o'Lantern with a difference.  Incorporating multicoloured LEDS and a small speaker controlled by a Raspberry Pi, students can create their own combinations of atmospheric light and sound effects, from classic horror movie theme tunes to bone-chilling screams...


Read the full project guide...


Ghost Critter - Codebug


Ghost Critter


A very simple design project ideal for younger children, Codebug offer downloadable templates to transform your device into a ghost or pumpkin. Some users have taken the idea further and incorporated additional felt and pipe cleaners to make the Codebug the centrepiece of a giant LED spider, ideal for hanging from the ceiling. Once your design is complete, you can also use the LED display to scroll a personalised halloween message or add a flashing light effect.


Read the full project guide...



Living Skull - Arduino



Any horror aficionado can tell you that no haunted house is complete without a living skull. The good folks at Adobe have come up with a fabulous project for creating an Arduino-controlled design incorporating a light sensor to terrify any unsuspecting passers by. Place it outside your house to send trick or treaters running screaming into the night.


Watch the full project guide...


Iron Man Costume - Beaglebone



For a more ambitious design project, why not use your electronics skills to create a high-tech halloween costume? This Iron Man costume was designed by a father for his young son, using a Beagleboard with Angstrom Linux to incorporate a range of light and sound effects. The demo video of his impressive design has already been viewed almost 7 million times on Youtube.


Read the full project guide...


Do you have a great Halloween project in mind that incorporates one of these or other popular coding and electronics platforms? Let us know about it in the comments section below...

Galileo GalileiThe history of engineering can be traced directly alongside the evolution of the modern world, with countless scientific breakthroughs and revolutions marking mankind’s journey towards ever more sophisticated methods of controlling and exploiting the world around them.


A complete history of all of these discoveries, inventions and breakthroughs would make for a very long article, but here are five time periods that marked particularly significant advancements in our knowledge and understanding of the discipline. 


A Society of Ingenious Ones

Long before the Scientific Revolution began at the dawn of the 17th century, the world’s first engineers - from the Latin word ingenitor meaning “ingenious ones,” - were artisans who used primeval tools to experiment building new devices and structures. These talented tinkerers are responsible for some of the world’s most mysterious and admired monuments still standing today. For example, the Egyptian Pyramids and Machu Piccu were both constructed during this era.


The Scientific Revolution

With the help of Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei and countless other astronomers and early scientists, the foundations of modern science truly emerged during the Scientific Revolution. Laws of planetary motion and universal gravitation, along with the development of the telescope and other optic devices contributed to this period of major scientific change. The Scientific Revolution saw radical changes in the way scientists worked, with experimentation evolving from a primarily trial and error-based approach to an expertise driven by mechanical, empirical and mathematical methodologies that still influence engineering today.


The Industrial Revolution

The developments of the Scientific Revolution set the groundwork for the First Industrial Revolution. Manual labor was slowly replaced by machines powered by steam engines, with the engineers who created these machines gaining widespread recognition for their skill and professionalism. As Europe began to introduce new engineering disciplines, such as civil engineering in France and mechanical engineering in England, journals and societies accelerated the circulation of information, which allowed universities to begin developing the first engineering curriculums.


The Technological Revolution

The disciplines spearheaded during the First Industrial Revolution made way for the rise of mass production and electricity that launched the Technological Revolution - or the Second Industrial Revolution, as it is often known. This period marked the advent of flight, as aeronautic engineers built the first airplanes and mass production and distribution were achieved with the onset of industrial engineering. The greatest feats of this era, however, were accomplished with the arrival of electrical and chemical engineering, disciplines that grew from chemistry and physics, and became the foundation for the modern chemical and electrical industries. Research began to play a significant role in the field during this period and universities began to establish graduate programs for engineering students.


The Age of Information

As a result of graduate education, engineering research expanded rapidly after World War II, driven mostly by the evolution of computers and microelectronics. This intensive research led to the establishment of widely accepted engineering theories that are still taught in universities today.


This period also saw the birth of astronautic engineering with the first man to travel to space in 1961 and nuclear engineering becoming a graduate study program in the 1950s. Modern technology benefited most from the physical sciences, where disciplines such as microelectronics continue to advance. The union between engineering and physical sciences such as physics and chemistry is only expected to grow stronger as our understanding continues to deepen.


What's your favourite period of  engineering history? Which do you think was the most significant? Let us know in the comments section below...

In our modern world of specific academic majors, pop culture stereotypes and sharply defined career paths, artists and engineers are thought to be like oil and water. But some engineers and artists are embracing the differences of their disciplines to find creative solutions to our day’s most challenging problems. And in finding solutions, they’re finding common ground, too.


Visualizing innovation

Genetic engineers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (known as Einstein, for short) in New York have access to vast amounts of biological data. While the information gathered by their computers has the potential to propel our understanding of the human body to new frontiers, there is one problem: there’s too much of it.

For the data to be useful for scientists and engineers, the researchers must be able to see it in a way that is informative, actionable and efficient. To solve this problem, Dr. John Greally, the director of Einstein’s Center for Epigenomics in the Bronx, reached out to Brooklyn-based visual painter and conceptual artist Daniel Kohn.

Known for preferring the company of scientists to other artists, Kohn had previously worked with the team at The Broad Institute for Genetic Research at MIT for 10 years, where, through open discussions, he helped the researchers think about data visualization in new ways. Dr. Greally brought Kohn to Einstein to serve as a similar kind of catalyst.

“A lot of the value of his input is jolting us out of our comfort zone, and making us aware that we can and should be thinking about the representation of data in new ways,” Dr. Greally told The New York Times in the spring of 2015.

Immersive collaboration

Step inside the California NanoSystems Institute at UC Santa Barbara, and you’ll find a rather mysterious-looking, three-story cube. Within the echo-free cube is a sphere five meters in diameter and made of perforated aluminum. It is split open so that researchers can walk across a bridge and immerse themselves in a 3-D world created by the interacting lights of 26 high-resolution projectors.

This is the AlloSphere, and it’s the product of artists, scientists and engineers working together to build the coolest movie theater you’ve ever seen. But rather than showing the latest big-screen Marvel Comics movie, the AlloSphere transports you to unreachable places.

You can step inside an atom as you see and hear electrons spin around you. Or, if biology is more your genre, you can traverse the lobes of the human brain as you observe neurological activity responding to controlled stimuli. Even mathematicians can find entertainment: The 140 individual speakers – plus booming subwoofers – allow nanoscientists to actually listen to the 3-D sound of quantum flow.

A 360-degree virtual reality chamber, the AlloSphere is the result of years of collaboration led by JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, who is a composer, professor of the arts and a researcher in content and facilities design at UCSB.  Professor Kuchera-Morin sees nearly unlimited potential for the AlloSphere as it reveals the inner workings of our universe on the smallest scales.

The data-based 3-D worlds rendered by the AlloSphere are as artistically beautiful as they are scientifically enlightening. And they are proof that when you dig deep enough, the lines between art and science can blur until there is no distinction.

STEM initiative.jpg

A partnership between Netflix and the Girl Scouts aims to get girls interested in science early on-and stay there. Girl Scouts meet accomplished women from a variety of companies at Netflix headquarters to learn more about STEM opportunities(via GirlScouts)


Since the late 1980s, the number of women undergraduates pursuing careers in computer science and technology has dropped nearly 20 percent, from 37 percent in 1984 to just 18 percent today. And this despite the fact that computer science and technology fields are booming, with more jobs and higher wages than many other industries. Why is this? Melinda Gates, renowned philanthropist and tech veteran herself, has set out to study the problem. She’s developing a personal office outside of the Foundation to specifically study the issue of declining numbers of women in technology.


Like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the beginning of her philanthropic enterprise starts with research and data-gathering. Understanding the problem is key to implementing a solution. The decline of women in technology has been compared to a leaky pipeline-multiple leaks means more women leave tech or become disinterested earlier.  Another reason may be the male-centric gaming industry, which designs video games directed to a predominantly male population. There appears to be a correlation with the advance of male-centric gaming with the decline in women seeking careers in programming.


Another reason could be the lack of role models and resources available to very young girls, who may simply not even consider careers in STEM because it seems so foreign and inhospitable to them. That’s one thing that a new partnership between Netflix and the Girl Scouts is seeking to address. With the premiere of its network-original show Project Mc2, which features girls who solve problems with their science and technology skills, Netflix invited Girl Scout troops to its headquarters to meet with accomplished women from a variety of technology companies. Girl Scouts got to watch the new show and meet representatives with surprising stories about how they found their careers.


By providing examples of women in STEM career paths, it’s hoped that younger girls will think of those vocations as possible and accessible to themselves. In addition, the Girl Scouts has launched an ongoing campaign of connecting interested girls with STEM opportunities across the country. For parents and mentors, they’ve published a guide online with suggestions on how to cultivate curiosity and confidence in science and technology in girls at a young age. Regardless of what career someone ultimately chooses, that can only be a good thing.


Have a story tip? Message me at: cabe(at)element14(dot)com


Kano kits teach kids the basics of programming and electronics with camera, speaker, and light board kits. All the kits work with one another

(via Kano)


With endless campaigns, programs, and websites dedicated to teaching kids the basics of programming, the concept doesn't seem as wild as it did a few years ago. Every month there seems to be a new program or device hoping to get kids interested in programming. And this month is no different. Kano, a computer company based out of East London, is currently funding its latest kit, which uses different devices to teach the younger generation the basics of programming.


Kano's new project features three different kits that allows kids to learn how to make their own camera, light board, and speakers. Each kit is sold separately and comes with a step by step instruction booklet along with the necessary parts to complete the project. Once the camera or speaker is put together, you can then code it via a series of online challenges and handy guides. Using Kano Code, you can program the camera to flash, change the timer, and build various apps to make it unique.


What is Kano coding? It's the company's own coding that breaks down complex programming concepts and makes them simple to learn. It's a series of challenges, games, and lessons to learn about the basics. Once you get the hang of it, you can move onto to actual coding languages, like Javascript. The more better you get at it, the more challenges, games, and badges you unlock. You can then take what you've learned and create your own apps. Or you can check out the apps made by others in the Kano community.


The speaker is a similar kit, but perhaps the most intriguing is the light board aka the pixel kit. This kit introduces the basic of electronics to kids. With this, you can add features to the board, like buttons, joy sticks, a case, and battery. You can even add a tilt sensor and play community created motion based games. As the name suggests, the lights embedded in the board also lets you make innovative and cool pixel art to share with the Kano community.


Though Kano offers these different kits, they didn't want to limit kid's imagination. To encourage you to think outside box, all the kits work together. Mix different parts from the various devices to create a unique device. The process is made simple since everything snaps together like Lego bricks. Each of the kits starts out at $99 and it's not just for kids. Whether you want to teach your little ones or have fun creating your own camera, Kano wants to make programming accessible.


Kano takes concepts that are complex and tries to simplify them. It's a cool, innovative idea but these are kids we're talking about. They're known to be notoriously fickle when it comes to toys like these. Kano's high priced kits run the risk of being entertaining for a while and then collecting dust on the shelves. If you're looking to get one for your kid, just make sure it's something they actually want to do instead of hopping on this programming trend.