The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) sent out an invitation, in 2011, for its members to submit a course recommendation for freshmen electronics engineering students. I submitted an entry, below:
Enjoying the Dance with the 1's and the 0's - A Course for Beginners.
A project proposal that I submitted to the
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE)
call for project proposals for an electronics course for freshmen.
Introduction and Impact: Human beings generally pursue an undertaking that gives them a general feeling of accomplishment and of success. An effective teacher will design the learning methodology in such a way that learning takes place at a fast rate. In Calculus, we refer to this as the slope "dy/dx", where "dy" is incremental learning that takes place within an elapsed time, "dx". After some time, the learning slope bends, and the teacher must be so attuned to this phenomenon that he/she introduces another learning process that will prevent the motivation slope from becoming asymptotic. This proposed project is so broken up into modules that are introduced one after another to build upon the accomplishments and successes of the ones that came before. The heights of motivation and of joy are reached at the point that the students present their projects, preferrably to persons of authority.
Students, who have experienced such joy in learning will, more likely, pursue courses that challenge them to excel because they have already developed high levels of confidence in themselves.
Hands-on-Project. This project, therefore, is designed for the "enjoyment of the discovery" of the behavior of electronic devices on a "100% hands-on" environment. And is to be done by students, who are interested in learning electronics. A group with no electronics background at all will greatly enjoy and benefit from this course. The project brings the students to get acquainted with "WHO" the "1's" and the "0's" are. Once acquainted, the students will teach these 1's and 0's to "dance", varying in tempo and beat. Then the 1's and the 0's will "teach" the students to COUNT from ZERO to any number, first in binary, then in hexadecimal, or any numbering system, you want! Then the 1's and 0's will produce dancing lights, sequencial lights, and bar-graphs. Then the 1's and 0's will tell time and produce alarm signals with varying audible pitch, dancing lights and whatever else you want. Then the students will read the time or set the alarm from their PC's. And finally, the students WILL CONTROL lights and appliances remotely FROM their PC's, still on the basis of the 1's and the 0's. And the students may go almost anywhere on their own from here!
The framework to facilitate the student experience is shown on the "Milestones" figure on the right. Students are encouraged to branch out to different projects of their choice. Thus one session may be facilitating many projects, after having completed the common experiences.
It is awesome to see students without background in electronics build such things as a vehicle that goes towards a sound source, or one that deposits boxes carried by a conveyor, into three bins in accordance with their colors (red, white, and blue), and so on. These are feats that are often conceivable for students in the senior year.