Electronics labs for school

Hi folks, I hope this is not off topic.
I am trying to help create an electronics lab/maker space/space & engineering club for my kids’ school and I’m looking for lab gear to use. I recall from tech shop the NI gear they had and really thought it was cool. I never got a chance to sit down and get to know it however so I don’t have any experience with it.

Does anyone recall what those devices were? Or can make any other recommendations for something similar? Looking at the NI site, there is a lot of stuff to choose from so I’m looking for the starting point for younger kiddos.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Hey bill. I work as a LabVIEW programmer, so I’m fairly familiar with the NI equipment.

The boards your referring to I believe are the NI elvis boards. I had one of my college classes use them before and they are pretty neat. But they run close to $3k/station.

However for middle and high school students I’d recommend they go with arduinos or raspberry pi’s instead.

Pi-top.com has some neat pi based solutions with either laptop or standalone systems. I have one of the older PI-tops by the fish tank in the lobby. (Looks like a laptop) for about $300-$400

Personally I recommend an arduino uno with shields for first time users. And arduino nano that plugs directly into the breadboard for more advanced users.

It’s all a matter of how much you want done for you, and how much you want to spend.

Thanks James, I was thinking they were elvis boards.

I’m looking at the myDaq as an option because its the cheapest thing I see and has some useful stuff for the kids to learn and I like the idea of exposing them to LabView.

I have Arduino kits and am working that in, and I see LabView has some Arduino integration capabilities so that could be interesting.

Are you looking at the MyDAQ University kit?

Personally I do prefer LabVIEW the graphic programming method I find very intuitive and easy to follow.

However I have run into the problem that although I’m effective at LabVIEW the skills dont translate to any of the text based languages and I struggle to transition to them.

Yeah the MyDAQ University kit. One of the projects we are working on is a rocket motor test stand so collecting, displaying and analyzing data is the goal. But more generally its to get them thinking about systems and engineering using project based learning.

What’s the grade level in question?

It’s k-12 and project based, we dont have grades. The kids who are actively interested right now are 8-10

Hmm a rather broad range.

The usual break down I’ve seen is elementary using Lego mindstorms with their gui programmer.

Middle school could make use of labview.

But once it starts hitting high school I recommend them getting into python on a raspberry pi.

Labview is a very nitch software. It only does a few things but it’s really good at them.

Teaching them a text based language in high school I honestly feel would be a much greater benefit to them than the Graphics language of labview. It also lends itself to learning other text based languages and understanding the other languages that labview just doesn’t offer.

Anyways I won’t rag on about it further.

Anything else your needing help with to set up your curriculum?

Yeah they have a good mindstorm program in place. I’m trying to build out a path to move beyond that into lower level stuff for those who are interested.

I will hit you up for additional info on LabVIEW as I get into it myself. Any chance you are aware of curriculum that already exists?

Not sure of any specific curriculum.

The first exposure I had to it was in First Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics competition for 7-12 graders. They may have something you could use.

That’s cool, I was considering that as well.