Two activities, how to increase interest in the study of electrical engineering and electronics, are described in the paper: workshops for teachers and participation in the Embedded Technology Club for students. Workshops for teachers acquaint them with the utilization of IT in a laboratory education, to make it more attractive and so to increase the interest of students to study natural sciences or engineering. The educational low-cost laboratory system and its applications in laboratories are presented during the workshop. The Embedded Technology Club (ETC) is a club intended as for students of secondary schools, who has an interest in electronics, as for other persons interested in this area. The business is focused both on education in the fundamentals of up-to-date design, development, and programming of electronic devices and solving some more simple projects concerning instrumentation. Activities are designed so that also students of secondary schools, who have no experience with electronics, but only basic knowledge in physics, can take part in. The priority is to have the interest to learn new things and to get hands-on experience.
The one-week intensive preparatory course “Practical Electronics” focused on measurement and instrumentation, which is designed especially for school-leavers of secondary schools (high schools in the USA), is described in the article. In many cases students, who are coming at the CTU in Prague, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, have only a vague idea of electronics despite they use electronic devices every day. The course is organized before the 1st semester and only basic secondary education in physics is supposed. It is divided between a theoretical part and a laboratory work. Each day starts with two hours lecture, where the actual laboratory work is explained. The following activities run in laboratories. A set of necessary components, solderless breadboard, connecting wires, and a low-cost multimeter are prepared for each student. While the 1st day is devoted to the connection of the simplest electric circuits and voltage measurements using a low-cost multimeter, the 2nd day starts with connecting of the virtual measuring instrument (VI) based on a microcontroller, which includes a simple DC voltmeter, a digitizing oscilloscope, and a pulse generator. It is used in tasks solved in the following part of the course.
Platform F0-Lab including LEO (Little Embedded Oscilloscope) was designed and developed to substitute a professional set of instruments in experiments concerning electronics, measurement, and instrumentation. It is based on a microcontroller, which includes the sufficiently fast ADC. It enables to realize (in connection with PC) a simple DC voltmeter, a digitizing oscilloscope, a waveform recorder, and a PWM signal generator. The microcontroller can be placed in a solderless breadboard where the student realizes experimental circuits. The PC controls this virtual instrument, displaying results and supplying the power of the entire set using USB. F0-Lab is successfully used for three years and more than 300 various implementations have been already realized.