Electronics and Programming Basics

Electronics and Programming Basics will get you started with creating light installations, your own switches, musical instruments and more! Make a prototype or get artistic - it’s your choice. You’ll learn basic concepts of electronics and circuits, basics of programming and everyday electronics. You will find out what kind of applications programmable electronics has in our built environment.

Mehackit Maker Kit is a perfect match with this course but any Arduino-based starter kit will work out, too.

Target group: 13-19-year-olds and educators. This module is absolutely beginner-friendly and requires no previous experience on programming or electronics.

Length: 4 chapters 1,5-2 hours each (= 6-8 hours). Material can be adjusted for longer teaching sessions as well.

Format: Suitable for blended teaching and self-studying. Self-paced course module with video tutorials, student assignments and educator instructions

Structure: There’s four chapters and an extra-chapter for educators.

For the educator

Click on the bar below to open educator information!

Educator notes

Throughout the material there are educator notes such as this that are designed to help you succeed in a classroom situation. Click them to open them! The first educator note of a chapter is always a longer Educator Intro that you can use to prepare for the lesson.

This material is designed to be used in a blended learning environment, even though students work online, you can help navigate and facilitate their learning in the classroom.

This material is easy to use - there’s no need for long preparations.

If you want to start teaching right away, see the Checklist For The First Lesson. See also the Educator Intro in the first chapter. If you have more time, browse through this For the Educator -chapter then jump to the Educator Intro in the first chapter to plan your first lessons.

Module Overview

The aim of this course is to help you to get started with teaching electronics and programming with Arduino. We provide you and your students with materials that allow anyone to learn the basics. You are now in For The Educator -material which is followed by the student material that consists of 4 chapters.

The structure of this module:

  1. Crank Up the Voltage and Get Coding! (90-120 min)
  2. Switch Stuff On and Off (90-120 min)
  3. Sense the Whole World (90-120 min)
  4. Let’s Move! (90-120 min)

Educator Materials

The Educator material is divided as follows:

  1. For the Educator - You are here right now. Essential preparations before teaching, installations and software, learning objectives and assessment.

  2. Educator Intros are found in the beginning of every chapter and include the following things.

    • Chapter Summary - A video about the chapter and learning objectives.
    • Slides and Lesson Plans - Introductory Slides and possible lesson plans.
  3. Educator Notes are placed in the material and include extra-information, right answers to the coding tasks, pedagogical tips and ideas for activities in the classroom.

Install Arduino to School Computers

Options for running the Arduino programming environment in Windows, Mac OSX, Linux:

Other options:

Despite some differences Mehackit learning materials can be accomplished with other options than Arduino IDE, as well. The tutorial videos make use of  Arduino IDE, which is thus highly recommended.

How To Install Arduino IDE?

Installing Arduino IDE is straight-forward but you might need administrator level rights to do the installation. Usually the IT support personnel in your school has these rights. If you need to give them the installation instructions, you can send them the links to Arduino website (below). Remember that you will have to do the installation for each computer used.

If the students use their own computers, please request that they download and install Arduino IDE before or on the first lesson.

Windows https://www.arduino.cc/en/Guide/Windows Mac OSX https://www.arduino.cc/en/Guide/MacOSX Linux https://www.arduino.cc/en/Guide/Linux Portable IDE (Linux /Windows) https://www.arduino.cc/en/Guide/PortableIDE Portable IDE does not require admin rights to the computer.

Course and Classroom Requirements

Educator notes

We suggest your students work in pairs but working individually is also possible.

For each student pair you’ll need:

  • A desktop or laptop computer (Windows, Mac or Linux) with Arduino IDE installed
    If students bring their own devices with them, they can install Arduino before or at the first lesson. 
  • Internet connection
  • Keyboard and mouse / trackpad
  • Mehackit Maker KitArduino Starter Kit or a similar set of components. The bare minimum list of components for the Electronics and Programming Basics (parts per pair of students):
  • Mehackit Maker Board, Arduino UNO (or any compatible microcontroller board)
  • breadboard
  • USB A-B cable
  • ~40 x jumper wire (male-male), ~5 x extension jumper wires (female-female)
  • 3 x push button
  • 4 x LED (red, green, yellow + high brightness LED)
  • light-dependent resistor
  • potentiometer (10kΩ)
  • 180-degree servo motor 
  • piezo speaker
  • resistors: 3 x 330Ω or 3 x 220Ω, 1 x 10kΩ

You will need:

  • A computer (same setup as the students have)
  • Display connection to data projector
  • Recommended: Mehackit Maker Kit, Arduino Starter Kit or a similar set of components
  • It’s good to have some handicraft-materials to be used in creative exercises. Check e.g. Exercise 1: LEDs Are Awesome.

Structure of the lessons

Educator notes

Structure of The Lessons

The content is quite self-explanatory and works well for independent learning. You can begin by leading students to the material, observing their learning and helping them when they ask questions. But students may get more out of the whole experience if you plan a structure for each lesson: give an introduction where you set a clear goal for each lesson and summarize what has been learned at the end of each lesson.

Besides making the learning objectives clearer, this makes the lessons more collaborative. Instead of only individual learning at the computer, it teaches students how to work collaboratively and use each other as problem solvers. Positive interaction also boosts creativity and makes students less afraid of making mistakes. If you yourself are active, students will become active too and will help each other in the class.

There’s slides and example lesson plans in the Educator Intro of each chapter.

Routines for The Lessons

Browse the slides by clicking the arrow-buttons in the lower panel. These slides are not designed to be presented in the classroom.

Helping The Students

The teaching should be focused primarily on helping students with individual challenges as they come up. The material encourages the students to start creatively tinkering with the code from the very start. This means that not everyone will produce similar results. Student might need your help and support if there’s errors in their code, they don’t understand the new concepts or they lack ideas of what to do in a creative exercise.

Even if you have mastered programming, students will usually ask something that you can’t answer right away. This doesn’t have to be a threat, it’s a possibility to explore the world of creative coding together with the students.

When the students ask for help with the material, you should facilitate a discussion with them. In the following graph, we’ll try to illustrate how these discussions usually proceed and how can you answer to the different needs of the students. The main point is that usually you don’t have to give a right answer. Instead, ask a couple questions that lead students in the right direction.

Student Faces a Challenge (pdf)

There’s other ideas for facilitating student work in the slides below. You can browse the slides with the arrow-buttons in the lower panel. These slides are not meant to be presented in the classroom.

Learning Objectives and Assessment

The aim of this course is to help you to get started with teaching electronics and programming with Arduino. Besides electronics and programming, you also learn about handicrafts, prototyping and art. The aim is to let the students - and you - experience electronics and programming as tools for many different projects. We find all approaches equally good, as long as the students enjoy and care about what they are doing - be it interactive art, gaming devices, robots, product prototypes or funny gadgets! 

The main objectives of this Basic Module are listed below (also in pdf-format). Learning objectives are divided to Programming, Electronics and Creative Project Work. The more specific learning objectives of each chapter can be found in the Educator Intros.

Learning Objectives - Electronics and Programming Basics (pdf)

Learning Objectives


Student... …

  • ...can make, save and run a program in the Arduino programming environment (IDE)
  • ….can understand what is a syntax of a programming language
  • … can write basic programming commands from scratch with correct syntax
  • … can understand how a computer reads the program
  • … can read error messages and fix the program according to them
  • … can use variables and conditional statements 
  • … can read comments and use them to explain the code.
  • … understands that programming can be a creative skill, like writing or playing!
  • ... knows how to monitor data from the Arduino microcontroller with serial communication
  • ... knows how to use sensor data as an input for the program



  • ... understands what programmable electronics like Arduino is for and what can be made with it
  • ... knows the basic Arduino workflow and the pin structure of the board
  • ….understands the basic concepts of electricity and circuits
  • … can read simplified circuit diagrams and create circuits with them
  • … knows how to use basic types of electronic components (LED, servo motor, piezo speaker, resistor, push button, different switches, LED, potentiometer)
  • … understands the difference between analog and digital input
  • … understands the difference between analog and digital output

Creative Project Work


  • … can search for inspiring projects in the web
  • … can observe one's surroundings and come up with real-world project ideas
  • … has knowledge of how to use different materials and everyday objects as project materials
  • ... can develop one’s own project idea into a working prototype
  • … can give constructive feedback of the creative projects of others.
  • … can utilize the feedback given by others to develop his/her own project further

Curriculum References

Mehackit Atelier is designed to help students to learn programming in a creative cross-curricular way. Many contemporary national curriculums address the importance of learning to use ICT and programming in a project-based manner. The importance of creativity, thinking skills and the ability to work independently is emphasized as well, among many other so called 21st century skills.

Below, there are documents with references to three national curriculums. We have selected quotes and learning objectives from the curriculums that match with the learning objectives of Mehackit Atelier and this module. 

Reference to Finnish National Curriculum, ages 13-15 (pdf)

Check the full curriculum (in Finnish) here.

Reference to Finnish National Curriculum of the High Schools (pdf)

Check thefull curriculum (in Finnish) here.

Reference to National Curriculum in England, ages 11-16 (pdf)

Check the full curriculum (in English) here.

Ideas For Assessment

There's a more detailed assessment rubric here. It can give you a rough idea of how to approach assessment with this kind of subject.

Electronics and Programming Basics - Assessment Rubric (pdf)

There’s other assessment ideas in the following slides. You can browse the slides with the arrow-buttons in the lower panel. These slides are not meant to be presented in the classroom

Checklist for lessons