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Can an Arduino change the world?

May 11, 2012

flickr – m4rlonj

Perhaps not, but that’s no reason not to try. An explanation:

For our elder daughter’s 11th birthday,  we bought her an Arduino Uno with which to tinker and hopefully ultimately take over the world. No, really, the idea is to expose her to the simple notion that computers have guts (hardware) and that it takes code (software) to make the guts do something useful. Kids–whether girls or boys–should grow up knowing something about technology other than how to insert a plug into a socket or like a page on Facebook.

As someone who works in an IT environment, it’s also eminently clear to me that there is still a glaring gender gap problem in the workplace. Today a vendor presented their server lines to a campus audience, and other than the two women affiliated with the vendor, there were zero women in a room of 25 or so IT professionals. Zero. This isn’t to pick on my employer, nor is it a dig at the guys in the room (myself included), but rather a general observation about IT work settings, which are still overwhelmingly male in most any organization, particularly the closer one gets to core infrastructure such as networks and servers.

Will programming an Arduino to make an LED blink or play a tune turn my daughter into an IT professional? Who knows? At the very least, though, for her it’s an initial step toward breaking down the shroud of mystery that surrounds higher level IT work. The kid’s great at math and could follow wiring diagrams in grade three, so why not show her how deep the well goes. My hope would be that she develops no concept of girl’s work/boy’s work.

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9 Comments
  1. Jennifer permalink
    May 11, 2012 14:53

    the same thing we do every day, Pinky!

  2. May 11, 2012 14:56

    Leave it to you to get the allusion. Thanks! Seriously, though, an Arduino would surely be part of any plot to exercise dominion over the planet.

  3. liz_clark permalink
    May 12, 2012 09:59

    I think that is wonderful to encourage your daughter to work with Arduino. I’m currently in college studying music technology and am the only girl in my major at my school. There is no reason that girls should not go into technology. Hopefully this gender gap will shrink in the coming years.

    • May 12, 2012 10:59

      Thanks, Liz. Your situation is exactly what needs to improve. The whole notion of “man’s” work and “woman’s” work needs to leave our culture.

  4. huifang permalink
    June 12, 2012 17:36

    I try to find what on earth is Arduino,Here is it:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arduino.
    I will reconsider the gift for my son in the future. Not only toys, books, foods, but something else likes Arduino.

  5. Cyborgette permalink
    October 11, 2012 20:02

    …and a little child shall lead them? One of the many, many things that is cool about arduino is the ability for our younger compatriots to realize their ideas. Before our education system teaches them that their ideas aren’t as good as other peoples’.

    • October 12, 2012 09:08

      Agreed. The thing I like here is that the sky is the limit. You can start by making a light blink, and end up creating a remote-sensing, alert-sending, robot-arm moving creation. That’s not something one will learn in most schools.

  6. January 8, 2013 12:53

    A little, relevant plug. We’ve made something that is set up for this kind of need. We wanted to have a tool for those new to Arduino to use to learn the programming without the frustration of wires, parts and the details for the electronics. It also has a complete book with projects, so that you aren’t left searching the internet for answers. We call the the Arno, for the valley where Leonardo was born. More info is here: http://www.olympiacircuits.com/arno—learn-arduino.html

    We’re hoping that Arduino and other projects like it will give our kids a head start. I think my 10 year old daughter will be using Arduino for science fair this year.

    Kevin

    • January 8, 2013 13:04

      That’s a neat idea for those who want to focus on the code, not the hardware. Hope it’s successful!

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