Inspiration

Currently, museum exhibits are often confined to glass cases with no interaction. However, if museums are to be conducive to learning, especially for children, they need to provide a space for children to play and interact with the exhibits to become more immersed in the educational experience. The museum exhibit I have in mind is that of an abacus, which is in the China Hall exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago. The abacus is a tangible calculator that uses beads to represent units in counting and arithmetic. For kids, it's a great way to visualize math as well as engage them in a playful way.

What it does

My abacus has four rows with 7 beads each. Underneath each bead is an LDR sensor (light) that outputs a value based on how much light is exposed to it. Using these LDRS, I could see which beads should be counted towards the total.

How I built it

I built it using the Arduino Uno Board, LDR sensors, 10 k resistors, and two multiplexers.

Challenges I ran into

Unfortunately, I could not get my project to work. I burned my first multiplexer during the soldering process and could not get my second iteration to work when using jumper cables.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Despite not working, I am proud that I accomplished so much for my first ever true hardware hack. I learned how to solder, gained a better understanding of circuits, and met some great mentors along the way.

What I learned

I learned not to be hasty in my building process, because debugging hardware is a whole other ball game than debugging software.

What's next for Abacus

Get it to work!

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