Our objective has always been to introduce children to programming (which falls under the umbrella of STEM) and hardware-based programming (such as robotics) is one such solution to help children learn how to program, design and see their code run in action.
What is Micro:bit?
Micro:bit is a tiny, pocket-sized computer, designed by the BBC (the British Broadcasting Corporation) for the use of computer education for kids. It encourages kids to learn basic coding and programming skills to prepare them for today’s tech-savvy world.
The device features 25 LED lights and two programmable buttons, which can be used in game-play or to skip through tracks in a playlist (the developer has complete freedom to code its functionality). It also features an onboard compass to track the direction of the wearer. It has fully-fledged features that are available on most modern smartphones today (such as a 3-axis accelerometer, magnetometer, Bluetooth low energy, temperature sensor, built-in microphone and speaker, etc.).
Each micro:bit comes with a USB, cable and battery holder.
The micro:bit allows children to learn about how computers work. They can learn about coding and programming as well as about inputs and outputs. The hope is that all those computer science skills might inspire a new generation of avid game developers, super software programmers and wacky website builders.
Devoxx4Kids event (Programming the Micro:bit)
On the 03rd of September 2022, we had fun learning the basic programming constructs and fundamentals using micro:bit, at our very first in-person event, after a long hiatus due to the pandemic.
The kids first learnt the following fundamentals:
- Loops (for, while, repeat)
- Boolean algebra
The kids later used what they were taught to build their own pedometer, also known as a step counter with the option to reset the counter. They learned how to listen to an event (the shake event, found on the micro:bit) of the accelerometer in order to increment their step.
Coding in action
It was easy to demonstrate how to code a micro:bit using both text-based and visual programming. This enabled learners to see the link between code and action on the micro:bit.
The block-based programming language (MakeCode) is perfect for beginner to intermediate coding. It also shows more advanced Java & Python command lines, algorithms, and functions alongside the graphical blocks.
Mastering the skills of tomorrow
Programming for kids is vital because in today’s world it helps them to master the skills of tomorrow, particularly in the field of software development, IoT technologies, 3D printing, AI, and augmented / virtual reality. Thus, programming with micro:bit provides real-world experience that will help them compete in the ever-evolving job market as they get older. Through building, coding, and controlling robots, kids not only develop valuable skills but also have fun while doing it.