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Internet of Things

A multidisciplinary programming unit

This multidisciplinary programming unit is a model that allows programming to be applied to various different subjects. At the same time, students will have a chance to complete fun crafts and tech projects from design to assembly.

Finland 100


HundrED has selected this innovation to

Finland 100






March 2017
"The Internet of Things expanded quite imperceptibly from a collaboration between a few subjects into a multidisciplinary project engaging the whole school. The project can be realized in just a few weeks or scaled to the length of the whole school year.”

About the innovation

What is it all about?

People use technology more and more. Technological developments are reflected in people’s lives by increasingly complicated combinations of technology and equipment. This development affects students' lives both now and in the future.

The Internet of Things innovation aims to help students understand what technological change involves and give them the skills to influence it themselves.

The presented model provides the teacher with tools for bringing multidisciplinary programming into teaching various content areas. The Internet of Things is a phenomenon based unit that can be done through mathematics, visual arts, biology or crafts.

Students are able to design, build, and program the devices. As part of the construction process, they explore and observe their own environment. The approach makes programming and the opportunities it offers tangible.

The model is based on interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork between teachers. The end result is a product utilizing technology which the students have created themselves from scratch.

Teachers can take advantage of their own skillsets in this innovation, so there are many ways to implement it. The examples in the steps have been done with Arduino, an open source electronics platform that combines hardware and programming.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


The innovation combines recent technology, independent and creative work.


The innovation gives students a comprehensive understanding of how they can make use of technology.


The innovation can be carried out in several subjects and is therefore suited for various different environments and syllabi.

Implementation steps

Be inspired to collaborate
At the core of the The Internet of Things is cooperation between different subjects. Therefore it’s important to involve teachers from a number of disciplines.

When teachers of different subjects combine their skills, the project will be multidisciplinary from the very beginning. Programming can thus be taught in a tangible way from the perspectives of a variety of subjects.

To realize the project, it’s enough that each teacher utilizes their own skill set during the project. However, one teacher must know the basics of programming and electronics.

The team at the Juhani Vuorinen School included teachers from the crafts department, the mathematics department (information technology), the biology department and the visual arts department.

Figure out what skills and necessary materials are available
Before starting the project, it’s important to figure out what resources you already have available at your school, including equipment, time and skillsets.

During the preparation it’s worthwhile to allocate 2-3 weeks to the preparations and planning outside of teaching.

Find out how the project progressed at the Juhani Vuorinen school


Implementing the model requires being familiar with the basics of programming and electronics. There is no need to master any specific programming language, but it’s good to have a basic understanding of programming, logical structure and high-level programming language before getting started on the project. The Arduino environment is based on C.

For getting started, there are books available with detailed instructions and advice.

  • Getting Started with Arduino provides insight into the Arduino circuit board; the physical platform upon which things are built on. In addition, the book provides the basics for Arduino IDE, a computer programming environment.

  • Another good source of help is the Arduino Projects Book. By following the book's precise instructions and exercises, and writing code, you can learn to build devices that move, make sound, or light up among other things.


You can select materials based on your own skills and any insights you have gained during your preparations. Nevertheless, it’s easy to start with Arduino. The following materials were used at the Juhani Vuorinen School:

  • Open-source electronic platform (Arduino, available for purchase online)

  • A computer with a programming environment (Arduino IDE, free of charge online)

  • Electronic components and breadboard(s)

  • A 3D printer and craft supplies for building the objects

Plan and design your device
Even before learning to program, you can begin brainstorming with your team of teachers.

Essentially, teachers from different subjects can be encouraged to think about what sort of multidisciplinary activities can be done. With the help of the teachers’ knowledge, different devices and their functionalities can be envisioned.

In the beginning, it’s worth letting your ideas bounce around freely. Good ideas won’t come immediately, but they will evolve during the process.

A multidisciplinary synthesis can be, for instance, a sculpture (arts) representing an animal (biology) with LED lights and electronic circuits attached to it (crafts and maths):

"As part of the project, the students utilized their art class to plan and design a suitable shell for programmable LEDs and their printed circuit boards. We decided to go with a three-dimensional model. We built fish-shaped sculptures from papier-mâché. Inside them, you can conveniently place the circuit boards required and do the wiring needed for the LEDs neatly and invisibly. After it dries, papier-mâché is really durable, light, easy to work with and to paint on."

- Juhani Vuorinen School, Teacher of Visual Arts

Get to know functional programming with the students
It’s good for both teachers and students to get acquainted with functional programming and Arduino.

For the programming, a computer is needed onto which Arduino IDE is downloaded free of charge. Downloading and installing requires administrator privileges, so it’s advisable to contact your school’s IT support.

There are plenty of tutorials on how to write the programs in the manuals that come with the Arduino package and on the Internet, such as on the website maintained by the Arduino Developer community (https://www.arduino.cc). These resources can be easily utilized in planning the project.

In the beginning it’s advisable to move ahead step by step, trying out a variety of individual functions. Once you’ve confirmed they’re working, you can begin to explore the possibilities of combining these individual functions.

In the beginning of the project it’s worth introducing different electronical components to the students, especially resistors and LEDs. After this it’s good to learn the calculation and measuring of resistance, current and voltage. Also, cooperation with mathematical subjects is beneficial in these calculation exercises.

Build the devices
Assembly can begin! As the project progresses, it’s possible to experiment and carry out different functionalities with the device.

By following detailed instructions and exercises in the Arduino Projects Book, you learn to build devices that produce sound, motion or light among other things. A shell is conceived, designed and built around the working device, which can depict almost anything.

At Juhani Vuorinen School, SketchUp modeling program was used with the students to design the devices. SketchUp is available for download online. SketchUp quick guide allows you to swiftly design 3D models on your computer. A neat shell for the project can be designed and manufactured either by hand or by 3D printing it.

At Juhani Vuorinen School 30 minutes per week were used for programming and 20 lessons in total were used for assembling the devices. When carrying out the project yourself, it’s possible to work out how the workload is divided between different subjects.

Be prepared for growing enthusiasm
Occasionally, the students’ projects begin to expand as their enthusiasm and confidence grows.

While building a traffic light installation, the students at Juhani Vuorinen School had the idea of developing a number of other functions on the same platform. A miniature traffic park began taking shape, into which they built a functional gate with a beam operated by a servomotor, houses with lighting, motion sensors, streetlights, and a windmill. Since a 3D printer was available, it was easy for the students to design different devices with SketchUp and print them as shells for the devices.  

In visual art students planned, designed and produced a number of animal characters with various in-built functionalities. LED lights, that switched on and off according to preferences made to the program running on Arduino, were installed in the eyes.

LEDs and circuit boards were able be installed inside the hollow fish sculptures made from papier-mâché. Details on where and how the LEDs could be installed inside the fish were discussed with the technical teacher. For example, ultra bright LEDs were chosen for the eyes. The eyes were made using ping pong ball halves, through which the LEDs shined.

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