Integrating Music and Arts into STEM curriculum with creative STEAM-focused experiences

A Guide to: Microcontrollers

What is a Microcontroller?

A microcontroller is a “simple computer” that runs one program in a loop. They are designed to perform a single, specific task.

Is a Raspberry Pi a Microcontroller?

A Raspberry Pi is a fully functioning computer, consisting of both Microcontrollers AND Microprocessors. They provide similar options to microcontrollers, but are additionally equipped with an Operating System, a user interface, hardware Input/Outputs, USB storage and more.

How do you use a Microcontroller?

The microcontroller is programmed using a coding language like Make:code, Arduino IDE, or Micro-python. Microcontrollers are used in our everyday life from garage door openers to air conditioning units.


Programming Language:


An interactive entry-level microcontroller great for kids and folks new to electronics/coding, especially for those who want to play with technology without having to build circuits and code.

GoSTEAM Project:
Summer PD

*Pairs well with aluminum foil, paper clips, some keys, anything conductive.


Programming Language:


A great start to learning how to code, teaching other, particularly elementary schools students how to code while making simple electronic projects and prototypes. Free online web-editor.

GoSTEAM Projects:
Paper PianoArt+CODE

*Make games, send messages, make instruments, and use motors in your projects.

CPX (8+)

Programming Language:

Adafruit – CPX

Circuit Playground Express are similar to Micro:bits, with a few more features. Advanced users can pair a CPX to a CricKIT Hat to control 5v Neopixel LED Strips, servo motors, and solenoids.

GoSTEAM Project:
Glowing Clock

*Built-in touch sensors, send messages, make instruments, and use motors for projects.


Programming Language:
Arduino IDE


An open-source microcontroller and programming environment for beginners with some knowledge of circuits. Arduino boards come in many flavors, The Arduino UNO is best for first time users.

GoSTEAM Project:

*Comes with headers for quick wire connection for prototyping.

Thinking about using motors in your project?

Check out this useful Motor Guide from Adafruit