micro:bit of Things
This site is for anyone who has their hands on a micro:bit and wants to know what they can do with it. I have assumed that those reading these notes are already familiar with the micro:bit. If you are not, I recommend that you follow the link below.
The micro:bit is a superb tool for delivering the physical computing elements of the Computing curriculum and is a fantastic device on which to base a wide range of STEM projects that involve electrical circuits and electronics.
I created the site to publish notes on projects that I am working on with my pupils, so this site will be of interest to teachers who are looking for ideas and advice that will enable them to exploit the capabilities of the micro:bit.
The projects have been piloted with children in Key Stage 2 or Key Stage 3 and many are now embedded into the STEM curriculum at my school. They have been designed with tight budgets in mind. With the exception of motor control there is no need to buy expensive add-ons. All of the components used are cheap and can be recycled.
I have purposely not provided schemes of work or lesson plans as there is considerable variation in the way different schools teach computing, D&T and STEM. It is up to individual schools to create their own schemes of work based on these project ideas should they decide to implement some of them.
The rationale for placing a strong emphasis on physical computing (control technology) is twofold.
Firstly, the selection of suitable projects will provide an engaging and understandable context for the children to learn about computing and the design of computer systems.
Secondly, we need to educate a generation of engineers, designers, technicians and 'internet of things' knowledgeable entrepreneurs, to enable our country to be at the forefront of future technological developments. The school children today will build and maintain the internet of things. Key to this end is enabling children to see how coding and electronics can be made to work with hardware and mechanisms to produce systems that solve real life problems.
To find out more about the IoT, watch the video below and follow the link.
You can start anywhere with this website, but progression is built into the projects so I advise the beginner to start at number 1 and work through the projects in sequence. All of the scripts included on this site were created by children, as were the models shown in images and video clips.
For coding control projects both the BBC Block Editor and the MakeCode Editor work well and are intuitive for children who have grown up with Scratch. I would express a distinct preference for the MakeCode editor for programs that make use of the input output pins.
With older children (Year 6 and above) who are feeling a little 'Scratched out' and are ready to move on to a textural language, I would recommend using Micro Python. This is quite a big step as syntax errors will abound at first and this can be very dispiriting for young programmers. The EduBlocks editor represents a handy 'stepping stone' between a block editor and Python. The facility to create code using blocks and then view it as a Python script makes initial experimentation much less frustrating. EduBlocks have only recently been created for the micro:bit so the library of blocks is currently limited but is growing.
Head of Computing
St John's College School, Cambridge
CAS Master Teacher