Arduino Course

Arduino and Basic Programming Teacher Training Course

  • Develop skills to teach community college students Arduino - basic programming, hardware, and electrical engineering
  • Online course
  • Earn Continuing Education Credit from UCSD Extension
  • Uses a visual programming language
  • Collaboration with UCSD, ThoughtSTEM, and NASA to get 300 community college students building Arduino projects by 2016. Funded by the California Space Grant Consortium
  • Curriculum is easily expandable to teach all age groups (K-12).

What is Arduino?

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for anyone making interactive projects.

Arduino Board

Arduino senses the environment by receiving inputs from add-on sensors, and affects its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. Learn how to create your own projects with add-ons such as LCD displays, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and GPS trackers.

Add-ons: LCD Display

Develop intuition about how a LCD display works, and teach others the power of controlling it.

Add-ons: Sensor Stick

Use the sensor stick in a variety of applications by controlling an accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope. Use these concepts to create an accelerometer circuit that transforms 3-D into a single dimension.


Bring it all together and tell the Arduino what to do without typing or annoying syntax errors. Drag-and-drop pre-built blocks of code using Google's Blockly language and learn programming basics.

Course Outline

Week Topic
1 Introduction to Arduino: Setting up the programming environment and basic introduction to the Arduino micro-controller
2 Introduction to Circuits: Utilizes Ohm's Law. Introduction to multiple resistor circuits, diodes, switches, LEDs, conditional statements, block diagrams, and named circuits.
3 Introduction to Digital Pins: Utilizes Ohm's Law, Block Diagrams, LED circuits. Introduce loops, PWMs, shift registers, and more complex coding with functions.
4 Introduction to Analog Pins: Utilizes Circuit Analysis, Block Diagrams, LED circuits. Introduce analog inputs, use of a PWM, photocell, flex sensor, temperature sensor, softpot.
5 Basic Programming Concepts: Explore how loops, conditionals, variables, functions, and parameters can be used with LED circuits and simple Arduino sensors introduced in previous weeks.
6 Using an LCD Display: Introduce how to use premade Arduino libraries, and how to use the LCD display.
7 Using the Sensor Stick: Introduce how to use the SparkFun 9 Degrees of Freedom – Sensor Stick.
8 Using Motors: Introduce three different types of motors: servo, DC motor and stepper motor. Learn how encoders can be used to change motor speed and introduce the H-Bridge.
9 Adding Audio: Use speakers and stimulate a sound file using an array with frequencies and create a theremin.
10 GPS Shield and MicroSD Cards: Learn how GPS works and how it is used with Arduino. Learn how to use the GPS Shield and SD card for location data acquisition. Learn two serial pins: the receiver, RX, and the transmitter, TX.

Interested in taking this course?

We currently are only offering this course through the NASA Space Grant Consortium in collaboration with Dr. John Kosmatka at UCSD. Soon we will be taking applications to enroll, so stay tuned!

About Us

Dr. Sarah Esper

Dr. Sarah Esper has her PhD in Computer Science with a focus on Education. Specifically, Dr. Esper develops Teacher Professional Development curriculum. Her goal is to empower teachers around the world to be able to teach STEAM subjects to their students, making STEAM education accessible to everyone. She is a Co-Founder of ThoughtSTEM, and the Project Manager for the Arduino Teacher Professional Development Course.

Stephanie Conley

Stephanie is a Biochemistry and Computer Science and Engineering senior at the University of California San Diego. She has worked on research projects from 3D visualization of archaeological sites to image analysis for heart tissue engineering. Stephanie's current efforts are focused on launching her startup Cyano Technology, which utilizes Arduino to grow algae for biofuel and medical treatments.

Stephen Gilardi

Stephen, more commonly referred to as “Stevo”, is a Computer Engineering undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego. A recent transfer student from Palomar Community College, Stephen understands the importance of giving community college students the tools necessary to reach their full potential. In addition to contributing to ThoughtSTEM, Stephen is involved in many projects to further develop and apply his skills in the field of Computer Engineering. He is currently working on a robotics team which utilizes the Arduino to navigate a maze, all part of a regional IEEE competition, and working with a professor designing a visual recognition system to be used in a clinical hospital environment. Stephen hopes to further explore and apply his skills in the field of computer engineering in ways that benefit society.

Christopher Ellis

Christopher is an Electrical Engineering junior at University of California, San Diego. He designed and built several autonomous maze solving robots, using Arduino, for the IEEE Micromouse competition. Before transferring to UCSD, he worked as a tutor for the Electrical Engineering department at his community college for three years. Christopher hopes to go on to research energy efficient power electronics for embedded systems.