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 introductory microcontroller great for young kids and folks new to electronics and 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:

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