Advanced Physical Computing and IoT

Inter-active Learning, an Experiential Approach to Designing Digital Tools for Education

Workshop Dates: April 23 – 27, 2018

Enroll here!

Keywords: Physical Computing, Arduino, IoT, Prototyping, Education Tools, and Experiences


Italian pedagogues have, at different stages, imagined innovative learning approaches where children are the center of their own learning process through a direct experience of phenomena and concepts applicable in the real-world, which is a radical departure from the classic lecture-based system.

To implement this active and experiential learning approach they also designed tools that help children discover abstract concepts through play like, for example, the Montessori Pink Tower to introduce the concept of scale and the decimal system, or the tactile workshops by Bruno Munari to explore the sense of touch and textures.

In the XXI century, human experiences are increasingly mediated by digital tools, and the world we live in is going through a radical digital transformation which requires a deeper understanding of its complexity. To make this world more accessible, we need to encourage children to understand how these digital tools work, to let them become active citizens of the future, rather than passive learners.

Our objective in this class is to design physical and interactive objects that can help kids understand the building blocks of the digital world and its foundation (e.g. the binary system, barcodes, RGB colours, digital images, digital sounds, programming, laser printing…) in an experiential and playful way.

We will explore some of the concepts developed by three of the most well known Italian innovators in education: Maria Montessori, Bruno Munari and Loris Malaguzzi and the Reggio Emilia Approach, followed by some remarkable examples of learning tools designed by makers, artists and Interaction designers.

After this introduction, participants will brainstorm and list some examples of building blocks of the digital world. Then each group will pick one technology, and develop an original concept to represent it. The rest of the week, attendees will be asked to tinker, experiment and prototype these learning experiences, with frequent reviews with the teachers and a class presentation at the beginning of each day.

The aim of the workshop is to create a handful of playful and engaging experiences, which will allow a child to understand a specific technology. The project work and prototypes will be presented on Friday in a Show & Tell public event.

Learning expectations:

  • Learn the role and potential of Programming and Physical Computing within the design process
  • Learn to develop a concept and quickly prototype an interactive product
  • Learn the foundations of the Internet of Things technology and its applications in the education world


Basic Knowledge of Arduino programming and Physical Computing (Sensors etc) or having attended the workshop INTRO TO ARDUINO / PHYSICAL COMPUTING the previous week.


Alice Pintus

Massimo Banzi