Blog Post

Micro:bits and Engaging in Physical Computing Remotely

Change, change, change. How do we best engage students in physical computing and coding from a distance? With school systems conducting distance learning, teachers continue to find creative ways to engage students without being in the classroom. One way to support students in physical computing and coding is programming a micro:bit using MakeCode. Micro:bits are small, inexpensive computers. They have a 5x5 LED array, programmable buttons, and several different sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope, and temperature sensor.

Image of a microbit

 

Students do not need to download any software--all programming is done through the MakeCode site. If students do not have a micro:bit, that is okay! When the students program using MakeCode, there is an interactive emulator showing students what would happen if they had a micro:bit to program. This allows access for students even if they do not have the physical device. Students can also share their program with other students or a teacher who can download and run the program on a micro:bit if they have one.

There are several different tutorials and activities on the Microbit site to help get students and teachers started with micro:bit and MakeCode. The Make Code team is also conducting live lessons and posting recorded lessons to use.

What are other ways you are engaging students in coding and physical computing while working remotely? What has worked well? What are questions you still have?

 

Lisa Rode is a CS for All Teachers Community Ambassador who teaches sixth grade at Kings Glen Elementary School in Springfield, Virginia. CS has transformed Lisa’s own classroom—she includes programming and robotics into all the subjects she teaches. She is passionate about advancing the integration of programming, computational thinking, and physical computing into all elementary school subject areas. Lisa was chosen as the 2019 Fairfax County Public Schools Outstanding Elementary Teacher.

 

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Submitted by randy macdonald on Sun, 06/14/2020 - 01:41

Excellent and timely article.  We had just started using the micro:bits with MakeCode about a month before the schools were closed, but I had no way to get device to my students. Then I discovered these live tutorials they started in March. When I can, I've been tuning into the MakeCode Mixer Stream . It's a fantastic resource and I've been using this to teach my 7th graders to code by creating games in MakeCode Arcade.  Now I'm teaching myself to create my own MakeCode tutorials and learning lots!   I'll try to share what I have once they are further along.  Until then, I hope you and all other teachers get to enjoy a well deserved summer break. :-)