Amy Hearn - Microbits in Libraries - lending computers!


The February Codemill Digital skills meetup had Amy Hearn talk about how public libraries around the UK are now lending out BBC micro:bit computers and how and why the initiative was started.Amy Hearn is a development librarian, runs Hudderfield Girl Geeks meetup and is one of the people who started  #microbitsinlibraries, thus she was the perfect person to introduce us to the idea.

Some takeaways from the talk:

  • 90% of children said the micro:bit showed them anyone can code

    1. After trying micro:bit, 39% of girls said they would choose computing, compared to 23% before trying micro:bit

    2. Micro:bits are being lent in 1200 libraries in the UK and over the world.

    3. Micro:bit lending attracted new people to join the libraries - reached new audiences

    4. Coding for under 5's exists - you can teach functional skills that would make a better coder later. A few toy examples:


Matt Moore - Learn to code with Raspberry Pi, Microbit, MakeyMakey


The first Codemill Digital skills meetup of 2018 had Matt Moore, a Primary Computing Specialist, talk about the techniques to teach young people to write code using Raspberry Pi, Microbit, and MakeyMakey, and how these tools let people learn to code in a simple, fun and accessible way.

Some projects and ideas mentioned:

  • Raspberry Pi:

    • #cheerlights - there is a project run through twitter, if you tweet cheerlights + colour, any device in the world connected to the network changes to that color

    • They have tried introducing what a Raspberry Pi is by putting a retro gaming console on the display wall and clearly showing all the individual pieces needed to make the games work.

    • Sense HAT

    • SonicPi

    • Microbit:

      • Making robo heads and using the screen to make sad or happy faces

      • MakeyMakey:

        • Finding things that are conductive

        • Combined Microbit with Raspberry Pi:

          • Making in instrument out of a wall

          • Making sound boards

          • Making a paper button into a real button

You can see the slides here: https://www.slideshare.net/codemill/matt-moore-learning-to-code-with-bbc-microbit-raspberry-pi-makeymakey-codemill-digital-skills

Lorraine Underwood - Using the BBC micro:bit in real life applications


The BBC micro:bit is a tiny computer designed for all kinds of cool creations from robots to musical instruments – the possibilities are endless! It can be coded from any web browser in Blocks, Javascript, Python, Scratch and more - no tricky coding required. The second CodeMill meetup had digital maker and Computing At School teacher Lorraine Underwood explaining what micro:bit actually is and how to use it in real life applications. She talked about her recent work and even brought some projects to demonstrate live.

We explored the possibilities and learned how easy it is to use by a person with no previous coding or engineering experience and how to make it fun to get children involved as well!Some projects mentioned by Lorraine were: cycling indicator jacket, micro:bit cross stitch, a Power Rangers sword, storm cloud, and temperature controlled stair lights.  You can find details of all these projects on Lorraine's blog here: https://lorrainbow.wordpress.com/projects/The highlight for me was a cycling safety direction indicator using LED strips controlled by a micro:bit - fun and useful!You can listen to the talk and see the slides here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-pAe7OZ_QMhttps://www.slideshare.net/codemill/using-bbc-microbit-in-reallife-applications-lorraine-underwood-codemill-oct-2017/6

Using micro:bit with MS MakeCode


Here is the link to the very cool JavaScript Blocks Editor that Lorraine mentioned in her talk: https://makecode.microbit.org/. The block-based editor makes it very simple to get started with coding the micro:bit.There is very little learning curve involved. I tried out the examples from Lorraine and made first micro:bit application in just 5 minutes! Here is my first try with the micro:bit - some scrolling text:https://youtu.be/Rhh9Frps8u4Try this for yourself here: https://makecode.microbit.org/_e1cfbDc0h620