Colorado Higher-Education Interdisciplinary Program - Colorado State University GK-12 Program: A multi-disciplinary research and teaching program in biomedical engineering for discovery and understanding of cell communication

Printed Circuit Board Design Project at Overland High School

Kate McDonnell and Cherelle Bishop
Berthoud High School Logo

In fall 2011, Kate McDonnell and Cherelle Bishop lead two computer programming classes at Overland High School through the rigorous process of creating PC boards for reverse-engineered audio speaker circuits designed by students from Berthoud High School.

To prepare them for this complex process, students were taught the basic material science of circuit components, basic circuit design, and the chemistry involved in etching PC boards (see lesson plan database). Students first put these skills into practice by building pre-fabricated audio speakers.

Students were then required to design circuit boards based on speakers schematics designed by the physics students from Berthoud High School. Our students were required to design accurate circuit schematics and PCB layouts using freeware computer software, ExpressSCH and ExpressPCB. Seven teams completed the design process for their audio speaker circuit and completed the printing and etching of the pc boards. Upon assembly, each board was tested to assess the functionality of there completed board. Once the project was completed, students then worked as a group to make a research poster explaining how they successfully reverse engineered the audio speakers.

Through this project, the students experienced a STEM-focused curriculum and learned to appreciate how electronics are made as well as the science behind the products.  Finally, this experience gave students a unique look into computer technology and gave them a new perspective on how circuits and electronics work.