This term the children have learnt how code plays a fundamental part in our physical world.
To demonstrate this, we used a variety of sensors which the children were able to use with the micro:bit. They used code to make a fan turn, to turn lights on and off, and to control music… among many other things.
Using the micro:bit, together with sensors, gave children the opportunity to learn about ‘inputs’ and ‘outputs’, digital and analog signals.
I loved observing how playful and engaging this can be and how the children used this as an opportunity to collaborate to make stuff work.
Our hosts made their fantastic boardroom available to us for three mornings during a normal working week. The children turned up with their laptops and learnt to code a spooky game in Scratch, made a Minecraft zombie game, and learnt how to code the micro:bit.
The Minecraft zombie game in particular was a real hit with the children and there was a real buzz in the room with everyone adding their own ideas to the game.
The children had an opportunity to show-off their projects with a ‘show and tell’ at the end of each of the sessions. The grown-ups present were very impressed with their creations.
Thank you to all the parents that let their children attend the sessions – and a special thanks to those who supported their children during the workshops.
Finally, a big *thank you* to Viper Innovations staff for their support with the workshops and to their STEM ambassadors who were of great help – including the ‘magician’!
We hope to repeat the experience again next year!
What parents told us was the best thing about the workshops:
“My son loved everything about this workshop”
“The boys hadn’t used the micro:bit before, so it gave them a new experience in coding in a relaxed atmosphere.”
“Thought the Halloween content was great.”
“Flexibility to fit all ages and abilities”
“My son was engaged and excited… he’s looking forward to attending again.”
I have been leading coding sessions for young people for over four years. During this time I have seen children develop their computational thinking and coding skills. The children have also been exposed to hardware like the micro:bit, RaspberryPi and the Pico-board.
Lately, I have also been delivering workshops in e-Textiles at Yatton Primary School where children have learnt about basic electronics and making wearable projects.
To further continue to inspire more young people into ‘digital making’, I have launched a crowdfunding campaign to create a ‘mobile maker space’. I hope to raise the funds to purchase the hardware needed to deliver more workshops inside and outside school.
We ran a well-attended session on the micro:bit – the electronic device developed by the BBC with the aim to introduce more children to coding. We had a packed room… but only a few girls.
The girls who attended the session were particularly keen on the micro:bits. They loved giving it instructions and seeing the displayed results. I enjoyed seeing them actively participating, playing each others’ games and showing me their creations.
It became clear to me that the micro:bits are great for introducing girls to coding. They can see how code interacts with the physical world and as their coding skills develop, they can start making their ideas happen.
I believe that introducing girls to coding from a young age is so important. Digital literacy is not just for boys and parents need to realise that micro:bits, computer games, Minecraft, etc are part of every child’s digital world. Parents should not make gender assumptions when it comes to computers and electronic devices. The earlier the girls are exposed to technology, the more they will be interested in STEM subjects later on.
So here it is a big plea to parents: give your daughter a micro:bit and let her tinker away.
Look out for any coding activities in your area where your daughter can participate.
During the last term of the school year, I ran five sessions on how to program the micro:bit at Yatton and Mary Elton primary schools.
The micro:bit is an electronic device created by the BBC to encourage children to code. The BBC distributed micro:bits to secondary schools in 2016; since then the micro:bit has grown in popularity and it is now available for anyone to purchase for their own use (for less than £20).
I got my hands on a micro:bit as soon as it was available with a view to introducing it to primary school children. I then bought a further 10 micro:bits – enough for twenty children to work in pairs. The devices have been fantastic and the children have loved programming them.
The children were challenged to display letters, numbers, play games, build a compass, check the temperature and listen to music notes. I was pleased to see the children’s enthusiasm; it was like ‘a pet’ that obeyed their orders and commands. It made them laugh and they loved going around the room sharing with their friends.
The micro:bit is not just for secondary school children. As more children become more confident with coding, they are ready to be challenged, and the micro:bit is the perfect device for this. It is easy to set up and get started.
I look forward to running more micro:bit sessions in the next academic year and continue to challenge the children.
During the half-term I ran a workshop about ‘Getting started with micro:bit’ – an electronic device created by the BBC to get children coding.
The session was a couple of hours long – enough time to cover all the basics and for the children to write their first programs.
All the children had the opportunity to get setup with a micro:bit. Seeing the childrens’ smiles as their first ‘Hello World’ program displayed on the micro:bit was a great moment.
Once the children understood how to download their programs to the micro:bit and test them, the tinkering and the fun started. We took advantage of the micro:bit accelerometer and created a ‘guess-the-number’ game, which was played by shaking the micro:bit. The children *loved* shaking the micro:bit and seeing the results on the display.
Tinkering with the micro:bit is a great way to get young people into coding and understanding about the connection between the code and its interaction with the real world.
As always, thanks to The Curzon Cinema in Clevedon for hosting us.