Session H from the Tallinn Workshops focussed on helping younger children explore basic ideas about sensors and control with particular reference to the natural environment and the world around them.
Control technology is used everyday
A system that controls and monitors specific things and does this by following a simple sequence of instructions
A simple definition of control technology is the manipulation of an input to get a desired outcome
Use pictures of machines to discuss and draw out ideas about how to make them work, what is the input and output. There should be a 3 stage process; ‘Input’, ‘Decision making/ command’, ‘Output’. For younger children simplify into input and output.
Think about the following points;
The device needs to be told to start working (turning the dial, pulling a lever, pressing a button, putting a key in and turning it on etc.)
The device needs to be told what to do (setting a program, operating the remote control). The device does an action (e.g. heats up, blows air, turns, lights up etc.)
The device is powered by electricity – usually batteries or plugged into a socket.
For very young you could use a picture matching of input mechanism and object as a Pelmanism game.
There are some simple experiments you can do to demonstrate sensors in nature.
Test each other’s blink reflex (carefully). What happens when you are pricked by a needle? What happens when a fir cone gets wet? Or dry? Or a daisy is put in the dark?
You could also introduce simple electronics and circuits. We use snap circuits with younger children.
The TechWillSaveUs Mover gadget is also a nice way to show input, command, output but you don’t really need expensive kit to teach the concepts.