We're keen on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) at Prior Park Prep. Over the last few months we have dived into the world of BBC micro:bits with our pupils in Years 7&8. Soon, these 12 and 13 year olds will take their ideas, inspired by the technology, into the 'Dragons' Den'.
For the unfamiliar, the BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized codable computer with motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth technology. It measures just 4cm by 5cm and simple coding can take a few seconds – like lighting up LEDs to play a randomly generated message in a game of 'rock, paper, scissors'. Each element is programmed using a dedicated website, microbit.org, accessed from a PC, tablet or mobile. A personal area on the BBC micro:bit website allows pupils to save and test creations in a simulator before they are transferred to the BBC micro:bit. It also connects to other devices, sensors, kits and objects, and is a companion to Arduino, Galileo, Kano, littleBits and Raspberry Pi; a spring board to more complex learning.
In the 1980s, the BBC Microcomputer introduced many children to computing for the first time, so the hope is that now the BBC micro:bit will build on that legacy for the digital age. It's aim is to inspire young people to get creative with digital technology and to help them develop core skills in science, technology and engineering.
At Prior Park Prep, the excitement was evident in our pupils' faces from the first ICT lesson of the term. The introduction of the BBC micro:bit is a way for them to express themselves digitally and they have embraced it. They started with simple block coded games before adopting the micro:bit as a game controller to drive characters, using a very visual type of coding called Kodu.
They continue to progress and in a few weeks Years 7&8 will face a grilling from the 'Dragons' Den' on their BBC micro:bit games designs. In teams, the children have researched their market to see what sort of games will appeal, have decided on an age group to sell to, created a box for the game and planned all aspects of the sales pitch. At the pitch, each team will present as Project Managers, Market Researchers, Graphic Designers and Game Developers to the 'Dragons'.
Be assured, the 'Dragons' understand business; they are managers and buyers from Waitrose Supermarket!
Watch out for an update on how it goes. It will be very interesting to see which, if any, team manages to strike a deal with a 'Dragon'!
Anyone can play with technology, but the future belongs to those who can create with it.
Find out more on the BBC micro:bits page.