One of the great aspects of microcontrollers is that they facilitate multidisciplinary projects. A student might be drawn by the coding, the art, the mechanics, the overall concept, or the team dynamic. Whatever the initial draw, the student becomes invested in the other aspects. The artist wants his code to work. The coder needs her mechanism to function. The person who's invested in the concept wants to bring all elements together. Everyone is invited to broaden their interests and skills.
Adafruit's Circuit Playground Express
Bird Brain Tech's Hummingbird Duo
The Hummingbird Duo (updated board now available in 2021) allows the user to connect input sensors like distance, heat, and sound. These can trigger motors, servos, single-color LEDs, and tri-color LEDs. The board also now can connect with a Micro:bit to allow unteathered use. $159 base kit.