NOTE: More news on The Boss, and the Makerbeams that are making him, coming in a day or two. Sorry ... holidays, coming back, working, all that stuff.
Fritzing is a free, open-source tool that I have explored while developing ideas for a low-cost design technology program. It is a software application which allows designers to easily document and share their projects by dragging and dropping the parts onto a virtual breadboard.
It has libraries which include all the main Arduino boards, servos, motors, sensors and common electronic components you would find in the vast majority of classroom projects, and the ability to create custom parts if necessary. Even better: the software can automatically generate a technical schematic or a plan for a printed circuit board, based on your drag-and-drop design.
In a professional or hobby setting, it allows quick mockups to share with others- extremely useful for feedback and troubleshooting. By saving projects digitally, you can reuse your supplies of real-world parts, while still keeping a record of the projects you’ve done.
In an educational setting, I would require students to keep a digital portfolio of all the projects they accomplish - from their first “light-an-LED” program, to their major independent projects later.
Keeping a record of their projects- not just some scribbled notes but a precise technical drawing, is both useful while learning, and also an authentic skill from the professional world. From a teaching perspective, this is also extremely useful for assessment purposes.
Crucially, this software makes it easy and fast to document projects, which is important anytime you’re considering requiring something of a teenager.
If you're considering getting into Arduino yourself, or using them in the classroom, it is a must-download. Also, if you like it, consider supporting them by buying their Arduino kits, or with a donation. Support open-hardware!