micro:bit at PICTEC and “Inspire ’17” ICT exhibition

BBC micro:bit was introduced to the MIEEs who took part in E2 event held at Toronto Canada, in March 2017. Those introductory lessons made me interested in using micro:bit to develop students’ coding skills with more stimulating options. Further online research helped broaden the views about micro:bit for STEM projects, robotics, creating games, controlling Kodu games and using easy Visual Programming platform for beginners. Meantime, I was invited to share my innovative teaching learning experience as MIEE, at Wattegama Education zonal ICT exhibition (Inspire ’17) held on 18th & 19th May. I decided to show up with BBC micro:bit at my previous service zone and contacted Mrs. Yashinka Jayasinghe, Industry Sector Lead, Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives. Mr. Prabhath Mannapperuma, micro:bit Sri Lanka User Group, was introduced and a great support is provided by him to continue work with micro:bit.

Spreading the information about micro:bit introduction lessons, was done through messenger groups. Some interested students who have finished Ordinary Level exam and waiting for starting Advanced level classes were invited.
Prior permission was taken from the ICT coordinator, Central Province, for conducting free introductory lessons for students at PICTEC. (PICTEC do not have regular students during the months of May and June.)
Throughout 9 hours (two days) six students participated for introductory lessons. Starting with how to power up the micro:bit and displaying output through LEDs, students practiced many different activities. They used both new and old, Microsoft Block Editors for coding.
BBC micro:bit pocket size minicomputer was introduced with the following hardware features and options.

• BBC micro:bit with two AAA batteries, battery case with the white connector and the USB cable.
• 5×5 LED matrix with 25 red LEDs
• 2 programmable buttons
• Bluetooth connection
• Digital Compass
• Accelerometer
• Light Sensor
• Coding on Web based IDE -https://pxt. micro:bit .org/?lang=en
• Tutorials and projects – https://pxt. micro:bit .org/projects
• Practice codes with emulator
• Microsoft Block Editor and downloading .hex file to micro:bit .
• Using IDE Online and Offline
• Working with Kodu (mbedWinSerial_16466)

Three of the students who had introductory lessons on micro:bit , volunteered to demonstrate projects, activities and games at the exhibition. Jewelry box Security alarm, compass, Welcome music with name on LEDs, Timing gate and Kodu games with micro:bit were demonstrated by the three students Malshan, Akash and Sethiya.
Demonstration of security alarm with light sensor was set up using a small box and speakers. This project was explained to guests starting with code editor, downloading the .hex file and use of micro:bit pins connected to speakers with crocodile clips to give output as sound.
Spectators experienced the practical use of micro:bit Compass; the code with If then Else statement was explained to ICT students. Display on LED matrix and other interactivities enchanted kids at exhibition. PC with Kodu and micro:bit was surrounded by Kodu fans and many teachers. Visual Programming Language features of both, Block Editor for micro:bit and Kodu programing tiles encouraged students to try coding on the spot. Two views -code to Blocks view and code to JavaScript view were discussed by teachers as a good feature for programming beginners.
Popularity earned at Day 1 had encouraged the demonstrators to do micro:bit demonstrations on Day 2 also, at the Inspire ’17 ICT exhibition.

Champa Rathnayake
micro:bit SLUG Ambassador Teacher, MIEE –Fellow

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