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"Crickets" are small microcontroller modules that have been developed at the Media Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA (MIT Media Lab). Although not released to the general public, these tiny computers are available to Computer Clubhouses organized in the Computer Clubhouse Network, where they may be used as next-generation toys, giving young people the opportunity to familiarize with future technologies. 

At the Computer Clubhouse Esslingen, Germany, which is affiliated to the Esslingen University of Technology, the Crickets’ possibilities have only been used to an unsatisfactory extent. On the basis of practical research work, this diploma thesis documentation tries to show how microcontrollers can be prepared to take over an essential role in an integrated multi-technological learning environment. 

In order to help people at other Computer Clubhouses to share these experiences, the documentation has been written in English and published on the Internet for online reading and downloading. 

I want to thank my advisors Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hermann Kull and Dipl.-Ing. Olaf M. Zanger for their excellent guiding and support. Providing a setting of cooperation and mutual confidence, they gave me the freedom to develop and pursue creative ideas and approaches. 

Special thanks to Dipl.-Social Worker Barbara Maier for her good advice in educational matters, and to Fred G. Martin at the MIT Media Lab, who kindly agreed to the reproduction of Cricket details in this documentation. 

Last but not least, I want to express my thanks to Stefan Pförter for his work on mechanical interfaces, to all the other mentors for their interest and support, and especially to the kids that have been involved in this project at the Computer Clubhouse Esslingen. 

Esslingen, in June of 1998 

Timo W. Kaiser 


Project Overview 

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Embedded into multi-technological surroundings of mechanical, electrical, and computer systems, the tiny microcontroller modules called "Crickets" can take over the central role of controlling the different sensors and actors. With the help of this integrated learning environment, 10 to 16-year-old kids at the Computer Clubhouse Esslingen may experience a new way to acquire practical knowledge in modern technology. 

The two kinds of Cricket add-on modules, which have been designed and built up during the diploma thesis, serve as the basis for a successful integration, as described in this documentation. 

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