Designed and taught by Jacob Peters in 2018 for Harvard's Summer School Pre-college Program.

Course description: Microcontrollers have transformed the way that people interact with technology. In the early days of digital technology, only experts could design, build and distribute electronic devices. In the past decade, open source microcontrollers have made custom electronics affordable and accessible to anyone willing to watch a tutorial on YouTube. In this class we will build an Arduino-based weather station to introduce students to data collection with microcontrollers. Students will connect open source sensors to the Arduino using a solderless breadboard. They will also follow guided tutorials to program the Arduino to acquire data from the sensors and save the data to an SD card. The data that students generate will be plotted in Excel. At the end of the course students will add an additional feature to their weather stations (e.g., additional sensors, alternative data formats, temperature-triggered alarms) using online resources and guidance from the instructor. Students will be encouraged to take advantage of resources from the open source community to further their projects. 


Students build many circuits during this course. Lessons focus on developing hands-on experience and practical knowledge rather than on theory. My goal is to get students excited about electronics so that they will motivated to learn the theory as they go.


Once students are engaged in building things with their hands, they are eager to learn the concepts behind what they are doing. For instance, students learn how to use a multiplexer to multiply the number of i/o pins available on the microcontroller.


Ultimately this is a programming class! Teaching students to program is notoriously difficult because the rules seem so arbitrary at first. But, when students learn about arrays and for loops by making a physical array of LEDs blink in sequence, these concepts just click.

Class Photo

August 3, 2018

We had an awesome group of students this year from all over the world (China, Pakistan, Switzerland, Ghana, USA, Britain). Everyone came to the first day of class with different backgrounds and experience levels. Each student left this course with an empowering skillset in physical computing and electronics and an appreciation for the equalizing influence of open source hardware/software.



Professors: Brian Ferrel, Elena Kremer, Andrew Berry

Course Description: An integrated approach to the diversity of life, emphasizing how chemical, physical, genetic, ecological and geologic processes contribute to the origin and maintenance of biological diversity. Topics to be covered include the evolution of metabolic pathways, multicellularity and structural complexity; causes and consequences of differences in diversity over space and time; the role of species interactions (including symbioses) as an evolutionary force; and the evolution of humans and their impact on the environment. 

My duties: I lead a lab section involving microbiology experiments, collecting specimens in the field, PCR and genetic sequencing.

HARVARD (2014)

Professors: Andrew Biewener, Daniel Lieberman, George Lauder

Course Description: Why is the human body the way that it is? This course explores human anatomy and physiology from an integrated framework, combining functional, comparative, and evolutionary perspectives on how organisms work. Major topics, which follow a life-course framework, include embryogenesis, metabolism and energetics, growth and development, movement and locomotion, food and digestion, stress and disease, and reproduction. Also considered is the relevance of human biology to contemporary issues in human health and biology.

My duties: I taught a lab section involving histology lessons, human physiology experiments and cat/shark dissections.


Lecturer and Lab Coordinator: Carla Becket

Course Description: First semester of a one-year introductory series. Provides broad coverage of chemistry principles with inorganic and organic systems applications.

My duties: I led a weekly review section and a weekly lab section involving various inorganic chemistry experiments/activities.


©2017 by Jacob Peters