Denise Chan

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Back in December, our NYC-based Developer Evangelist Tyler Nappy created the Email Controlled Christmas Tree. To extend the reach and impact of our project, we partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and used it as an opportunity to inspire Bigs and Littles about innovating through hardware and email. The tree was set up at corporate headquarters where kids and adults alike were invited to take control of the light display.

We had so much fun with our Email Controlled Christmas Tree that we decided to follow up with a visit to one of these sessions. In addition to being a non-profit that encourages children through one-on-one mentorship, Big Brothers Big Sisters also works with School’s Out NYC (SONYC) to provide programs like Robotics and Computer Science courses. We were so impressed by this initiative and believe that future generations should be exposed to the evolving technology around us. As a result, we donated some Arduinos kits and Tyler scheduled a hands-on-project at one of the schools.

A few weeks ago, Tyler visited MS447 to teach students how to light up LEDs with their very own Arduino kits. It turns out many of these kids were pros already! They were familiar with terms like “hackathon”, “hardware”, and when we took out the kits, a few of them shouted out “Arduino!”

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The students were paired into groups of three and four, and like surgeons, adeptly matched wires up to their corresponding parts of the board. It was a race against the clock for them, to set up the single LED to light up, and have the potentiometer (control button) control the light and sound of the buzzer before the end of class.

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All throughout there was a lot of laughs, collaboration and intrigue about how all the parts worked together. The one hour session was definitely not enough, the students were reluctant to stop exploring ways of working the potentiometer when class came to an end.

It was certainly a blast to see the level of enthusiasm these students had towards tech and hardware. We are so grateful to have been a part of the learning experience.

Thanks again for having us, Big Brothers Big Sisters and MS447! Keep up the good work!