QWERTY and the art of designing microcontrollers for children

Author: Blikstein, P. & Sipitakiat, S.
Year: 2011
Type: Refereed Conference Paper/Poster/Demo (with Proceedings)
Conference/Journal: IDC 2011

Paulo Blikstein and Arnan Sipitakiat. 2011. QWERTY and the art of designing microcontrollers for children. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 234-237.



Microcontroller-based or physical computing devices have been used in educational settings for many years for robotics, environmental sensing, scientific experimentation, and interactive art. In this paper, we discuss design principles underlying the several available platforms for physical computing, based on a historical analysis of the development of these devices, and data from workshops conducted with students. We evaluate two of the main frameworks for physical computing (“Cricket” model and “Breakout” model), discuss affordances of each platform, and propose a new software and hardware design for microcontroller – based platforms.