Stephen Gagne, the coordinator of the event, explains what the Arduino device can do. Attendees were invited to create something incredible with the device if they put their imagination to the test. Photo credit: Alfred Carreon

By fiddling with one small device and a coding program, you have the ability to create almost anything your heart desires, from a light switch to something as complex as a 1980s synthesizer.

Coding is pretty much the closest thing to magic that humans have. You’re able to put in seemingly ordinary words into a program and watch it unfold right before your very eyes.

On Feb. 21, 2020, Algonquin College’s makerspace held an event for teaching the basics of coding using a small device called the Arduino box. This tool basically takes the instructions that were typed into the program and carries out the requested actions.

From each step that was typed into the Arduino program, the two student participants one retired faculty member were able to see what they were doing to the box.

“It’s similar to Teensy, the program we use in class,” said Dararancy San, a computer science student who attended the event. “Being able to type spooky language, or code, into the device and it works. But the difference is that you’re able to see each step that you put into it and see where you need to fix.”

The code that was taught at the event was a beginner’s code: creating a run device with lights.

Basically, you need to create a loop with the code and add a small delay to them, which, if successfully done, will create an illusion that the lights are chasing after each other.

Stephen Gagne, the coordinator of the event and a webmaster for the office of applied research, explained that Arduino was a great program when he was a teacher’s assistant.

“Students weren’t able to see the web code that they were putting into their program, but with Arduino, they were able to see what they were doing at every step,” he said. “It gives them a sense of accomplishment with every step.”