I really like my job as a teacher and I love to make things. At the end of a nice physics class my students told me the class had “swag”. I almost instantly decided to build a “swag-o-meter”. Basically an instrument that gives my students the opportunity to give me direct feedback at the end of every class. I decided to make it “carnival style”. I teamed up with my friend Rolf and during a year we built a system with 15 live (230 V) light bulbs, a green and a red revolving beacon light, a sound system and a green and red giant button.

The heart of the system is of course an Arduino. It was quite a challenge (more than 500 soldering points) and we had to start many steps over and over again. But we persuaded (thanks to the full support of our students) and it paid out. The system works great!

When a student leaves the classroom she or he has to push the red (non-swag) or green (swag!) button. When the net result is more than eight swags (or non-swags) the system does an animation, plays a sound (sad trombone if non-swag or hooray when full-swag) and turns on the appropriate beacon light.

Because of the fact that it is really a screen with a resolution of 1×15, with sound and some more lights, we have put some other features in like a countdown clock, a binary counting system and a game is being developed.

It was really a great adventure that even made some national newspapers. If you want to make a thing like this you can read my Instructable and if something is not quite clear, don’t hesitate to contact me.