Q. I don’t know anything about electronics or programming. How can I use this to teach my student?
A. We specifically designed our curriculum kits to be used by families with no background in electronics, programming or robotics. With clear explanations, step-by-step instructions, a complete components kit included, and one-on-one support from our amazing team, we are confident you can successfully teach your student robotics at home.
Q. What age is this curriculum appropriate for?
A. We designed our curriculum kits to be used by students grade 6 to adults. However, we would caution that Levels C and D are particularly complex and are better suited for high school students and adults rather than middle school students. If you feel the program would be a good fit for your middle school student, please plan on having a parent work alongside them. We want everyone to feel successful!
Q. How will I receive my order?
A. The PDF files containing the curriculum can be downloaded following purchase. The component kit will be mailed to you within several business days.
We do not offer printed copies of the curriculum for several reasons:
When reviewing concepts, students benefit greatly from being able to search the curriculum document for information about a skill they are working with.
The technology students will be working with changes regularly and we typically update the curriculum every 2-3 months to assure students are working with the latest information. Sometimes the changes are significant (screen layout, menu options, procedures, etc.) It is advantageous for students to have access to this updated information via the electronic copy of the curriculum. We want them to keep moving forward with their lessons, not getting stuck and frustrated because a menu option changed.
We want to save some trees and keep your cost down! Our program is lengthy and the book would not only be heavy to carry around, it's simply unnecessary to print it. All lessons can be read and completed with the file pulled up on a tablet, laptop or desktop.
Q. How many lessons are in each level and how long does each lesson take?
A. There are 18 lessons in each level:
Level A: 45-60 minutes per lesson
Level B: 60-90 minutes per lesson
Level C: 90-120 minutes per lesson
Level D: 90-120 minutes per lesson
We recommend aiming to complete 1-2 lessons per week. A single level will take 9-18 weeks to complete depending on lesson frequency.
Please note, as the concepts taught in Levels B, C, and D are more complex than Level A, parents of younger students should consider slowing down lesson frequency to perhaps once per week. This would allow the student to complete the lesson more than once if needed and to practice the new skills prior to moving on to the next lesson.
Middle school students should aim to complete Levels A and B in 1+ school year and Levels C and D in 1-2 school years (we strongly encourage moving at your child's individual pace--there's plenty of time to complete all four levels!) Middle school student may also find it helpful to only complete Levels A and B in during middle school and save Levels C and D for high school.
High school students can aim to complete A-D over the course of a school year if desired. Extra time outside of lessons should be built in to allow the student to practice skills between lessons. We recommend high school students schedule 4-5 hours a week to complete all four levels in a single school year.
Adults can expect to spend approximately 15 hours completing Level A, 25 hours completing Level B, and 30 hours completing Level C, and 25-30 hours completing Level D.
Q. Can the curriculum be used by the student independently?
A. Yes, the curriculum is written directly to the student and assumes both student (and parent) have no background in electronics, programming, or robotics. How successful a student will be at self-teaching will depend on age, maturity level, and motivation of the student. In the event you have a younger (middle school) or less mature student, we would encourage you to learn alongside your student.
Q. What if we have a question or run into a problem?
A. We are thrilled to help! Contact us via email or live chat and we will help you get back on the right track.
Also, please head on over to Facebook and join the42 Electronics User Group. It's a great place for current or perspective users to ask questions, get project ideas, and connect with other families using the Intro to Robotics program.
Q. Will we need additional equipment?
A.In addition to the curriculum and Levels A-D parts kits purchased with it, you will need:
Computer Monitor(a television can also be used provided it has HDMI inputs, please note, a laptop computerwill notwork for this purpose)
HDMI cable(likely attached to your computer monitor)
AA Batteries x2
These are used in Lessons A-1 to A-9 to power circuits prior to learning to use the Raspberry Pi.
Keyboard and Mouse
Please use a wired keyboard and mouse if possible. Wireless models do not work reliably with the Raspberry Pi. Visit theLevel A Resource Listfor a list of inexpensive keyboard and mouse options.
A Desktop Computer, Laptop, or Chromebook
Must be connected to the home network via a wired or wireless connection (this can be the family’s regular computer as it will be used in networking lessons)
Highly recommended to prevent damage to more sensitive equipment such as the Raspberry Pi camera;click hereto find one at a bargain price. This is particularly needed in Level C.
AA Batteries x6
These are used to power the robot in Level D. We recommend rechargeable batteries, click here to learn more.
Minimum 4 gb
Used in Level D to build a track on the floor for the robot to follow; use black electrical tape if you have light colored flooring, use white electrical tape if you have dark colored flooring
USB to SD Card Adapter (optional)
Optional activity in Lesson D-1 shows students how to back up their SD card to their computer, click here to see links to adapters
Internet access(wired or wireless)
Internet access is optional (but recommended) for Level A. For Levels B and C, internet access is required to download libraries and modules.
For more information, check out this video where Julie walks you through the extra equipment requirements. (Please note, this video discusses items needed for Levels A and B and does not address the Level C and D specific items; please refer to the list above).
Q. Are technical updates to the curriculum available after purchase?
A. Yes! The Raspberry Pi operating system tends to change fairly regularly. Sometimes the changes are minor, such as moving a menu item, and sometimes the changes are major, such as process changes. Minor updates are posted to the curriculum resource page as soon as they are known and documentation is available (a link to the resource page can be found in the footer of this website). Major changes are incorporated into updates to the curriculum. We tend to release curriculum updates every few months. These updates are available to download via the curriculum download link you receive after placing your order.
Q. I’m only interested in my student being introduced to electronics and programming, does he or she need to complete all four levels?
A.While each level builds on the previous level, we have designed this course so a student can stop upon the completion of any level and still have solid, complementary skills in working both with electrical components as well as the most common Python coding commands. While we do recommend students continue to work through successive levels, we recognize that won't be appropriate for all students, and some students may be content with the skills and exposure gained in completing only one, two, or three levels.
Here are examples of the skill level a student can generally expect when using each level of our program:
Level A: A student will have beginner level electronics and coding skills as well as know how to use a Raspberry Pi. If the goal is to simply expose the student to electronics and coding, completing only Level A is likely to accomplish this goal.
Level B: A student will have intermediate level electronics and coding skills as well as a solid collection of components to use. This allows students to tackle many projects they find online.
Level C: A student will have advanced level electronics and coding skills as well as an extensive collection of components. They will be well equipped to tackle most projects they find online as well have a solid base of knowledge to continue to independently expand their skills to more niche-level topics and skills.
Level D: A student will have skills working with motors and motor drive boards as well as experience pulling a number of components together into a single project. This includes advanced level planning and troubleshooting skills. The student will also have had an opportunity to take previously learned coding skills and adapt them to working with a mobile platform--a significant challenge.
Q. Why does this program teach Python instead of a different programming language?
A. We teach Python for a couple of reasons:
Python is currently the fastest growing computer language. Companies such as YouTube, Dropbox, Google, Quora, Instagram, Spotify, Reddit, and Yahoo Maps used Python to build their platforms. While programming languages tend to come and go over time, Python is well rooted and is likely to be a popular language for many years.
Python is particularly well suited to beginners. The code is intuitive and easy to read. It also requires far fewer lines of code to accomplish tasks compared to other popular languages such as C++ and Java.
Q. Which model of the Raspberry Pi does the kit include?
A.Our kits include a Raspberry Pi 3B as it is by far the best model for electronics and robotics projects. We do get questions from users about the newly released Raspberry Pi 4 however it's important to understand that newer isn't always better.Which model will best suit your needs islargely dependenton what you will use the Pi for (robotics projects vs. a personal computer replacement for example) and also your personal skill level. The primary issue with a Pi4 is that it has very high power requirements. It needs to be plugged into a wall as a standard battery pack won't meet it's needs. It really isn't any fun to have a robot that has to be plugged in though.Click hereto read more about the differences between the Pi 3B and the Pi 4 including why the Pi 3B is a superior choice for electronics and robotics projects, especially for beginner and intermediate users.
Q. Are the curriculum and kit reusable for other students in the family?
A. Yes! The contents of the kit and the curriculum are fully reusable for multiple students in the same family. The curriculum may not be resold or given away to another family. If teaching multiple students simultaneously, it may be helpful to purchase multiple component kits so each student has their own set but this is not required. Click here to purchase an additional component kit. Schools and Co-ops, click here for institutional ordering and pricing information.
Q. Can I use this curriculum for high school credit for a home schooled student?
A.Yes, generally speaking, each level of the Intro to Robotics program is equivalent to 0.25 credit hours. So completing two levels would be equivalent to 0.5 credits and completing four levels would be equivalent to 1.0 credits. Please note, assigning credit to homeschooled students is dependent on your state's specific homeschooling laws, please consult them if you have questions.
Q. How will my order be delivered?
A. The PDF files containing the curriculum can be downloaded following purchase. A hard copy of the curriculum is not available although you are welcome to print a copy for your personal use. The component kit will be mailed to you within several business days.