BBC Microbits and Learning to Code.

Where are all the Microbits? The what? Those teeny handheld computers that were given to all Year 7 schoolchildren last year. How many are lurking under a pile of stuff in classroom cupboards? or under a heap of clothes in a child’s bedroom?

The other week there was a beginners course on using the Microbit at my local library. Libraries, apparently, are picking up responsibility for coding clubs in the vacuum left by schools and our library now is the proud possessor of twenty microbits available for borrowing. So I went along. Maybe, at last, I would get to grips at last with the Microbit that I had bought in a rush of enthusiasm.

Microbits are so easy to use. All you have to do is . . .” Okay! Enough! Computer experts always forget that the rest of us are a bit daunted by anything that has more than an on/off switch. Last year there were many TV publicity pictures of school children playing with their Microbits and programming them to say, “Hello World.” (See Microbits) The children in these films were such good actors that they managed to look terrifically happy with such an achievement. Now, one year later there are more ideas for using the tiny computers. I rather liked the idea of operating on a Barbie doll to replace her arms with limbs controlled by a Microbit. Was not quite so keen, however, on gouging out the eyes of a doll’s head to replace them with LEDs.

. . . back to the beginners’ course at the library. We were shown how to attach the Microbit to our laptops then use the block programming tools to generate a pixellated image of a figure with waving arms. Well; it was a start.