Computing: Microbit Electronics Gets Pupils Gadget Making
In the new Microbit Electronics activity this term, pupils have been learning to program a credit card sized computer, which are then used to create a variety of electronic gadgets and gizmos.
They have programmed a 5x5 LED matrix to display messages and symbols, and have written programs, which tell the device how to respond if the user triggers an 'input'. Children have experimented with physical computing and explored devices which can detect and respond to signals other than just button presses.
One of the most innovative interactive devices the children have designed is an automatic Harry Potter 'sorting hat'. The children created the 'wand' and 'hat' models, made out of kitchen foil so they conduct an electrical signal, and connected them to the microbit.
Finally, they wrote the code for the microbit to follow when the program is run. All they then had to do was complete the circuit between the hat and wand through touch, sending an input signal to the device, which in turn then follows its program and displays which of the three houses the person should be allocated to!
The children enjoyed finding out if they would be members of 'Gryffindor', 'Hufflepuff', 'Ravenclaw' or 'Slytherin'!
Future devices to be built include a pedometer program which increments a value when the microbit is shaken, and through exploring electrical conductivity, a friendship detector which displays a preset message when two users make contact through a 'high five'!
Furthering the pupils’ knowledge of computer coding and electronics, this activity has been a fun, educational introduction to the world of physical computing. Pupils will take forward these skills to design ever more wild and exciting electronic devices in the future!