Due to a series of very strange circumstances, I have been asked to teach two 3-hour lab sessions on “some or any topic in engineering” at a community college with less than a week’s notice. In non-COVID times, I would buy a dozen Arduino kits from Amazon (24 students) and have them build a few simple pre-made projects using sample code and “cook-book” circuit diagrams. But COVID makes this “hands-on” class via Zoom take on a whole new dimension. There are no prerequisites for the class, so most won’t have taken any programming or passed any math prerequisites.
So my next thought was robotics simulations, but I’m not familiar with any of the software on the market. Do you know of any that fits the bill for the population above? Free software (or free trial) is preferable. Easy to learn (for myself as well as the students). It doesn’t need to be deep – I just need to fill 6 hours with some meaningful hands-on learning. And I need to be able to get far enough along the learning curve before next Friday that I can actually help the students with trouble-shooting. Which means, hopefully, not too many troubles.
I’m also open to a starter programming tutorial (the type you’d give to a 10-year-old kid), or anything else that can be done online. Ideally, I’d give a lecture, and demo, then the students would work on their own and complete a project, even if it’s just copying a project that’s already done with some small modifications (e.g., change a blinking light program to blink slower or using different colors).