In the registration bag at the CSTA Conference was a very nice surprise. The folks from micro:bit gave one to participants. What a nice piece of swag!
There are a number of starting points and, if you took a wander through the Exhibit Hall, you may have found one. If you weren’t at the conference and have your own micro:bit, you can still use it. If you don’t have your own micro:bit, you can still get a bit of the programming micro:bit experience with the on-screen editor and simulator.
The site comes from Microsoft and is called “MakeCode“. You’re not limited to the micro:bit; there are resources for “Circuit Playground Express“, “Minecraft“, “Sparkfun Inventors Kit“, and “Chibi Chip“.
If you’re experienced in the world of drag and drop, you should be off to the races. If not, it’s an easy enough environment to get started.
The first micro:bit activity is to program the LEDs for a smile or frown depending upon whether button A or button B is pressed.
So, you set them up and maybe even modify them a bit.
You can even create LED animations.
The environment provides the simulator on the left, all of the possible blocks in the middle, and your workspace on the right of your screen.
The coding blocks in the middle give you a sense of everything that can be done if you’ve been waiting to get yourself or your school one.
Computer Science diehards will appreciate seeing the actual code that makes the magic happen. Of course, Computer Science diehards will take offence to my use of the word “magic”. It’s really programming and logic in action!
What’s even more impressive is the spacing and indentation that makes the code easy to read (and debug). It demonstrates right off the bat good principles for that.
The MakeCode website open up all kinds of possibilities for the classroom. You owe it to yourself to click through and give the activities a whirl on your computer.