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KIKS Microbit International Collaboration
If you want a proven example we'll start this page with a simple (free) coding example from Adrian which doesn’t even need a real m:b!
Experiment 1: turning the micro:bit into a spirit-level
Enter the Microsoft PXT blocks editor from this link: https://pxt.microbit.org/. Create a new Project and follow the signposts below, or just go solo when you're ready to have a go!
The `forever’ and `show string’ commands are in Basic blocks menu. `set to’ and `item’ are found in the Variables menu. `if..then..else if..then..else’ is found in the Logic menu. `rotation’ is found in the Input More menu. The divide block is found in the Math menu, and the compare block in the Logic menu. So how does the program work? It continuously checks the angle being returned by the `pitch’ sensor. Dividing this angle by 50 returns a value for the variable `item’ which you could read using the `show number’ command from the Basic block. This is a single digit signed number between -4 and +4. We are just going to test whether this is a positive, negative or zero number. If it’s zero we display the letter L for Level, if it’s negative we display D for Down, and if it’s positive we display U for Up. Then we have a slight pause before doing the job again.
In order to test the program `live’ you now need to connect a m:b to the computer with the USB cable. The computer will recognise the m:b as an external memory device and give it a drive name such as `D:’. You can click 'Download' on any of the m:b editor packages, and either save it on your PC then the m:b, or alternatively load it directly onto the m:b.
When the hex file has finished downloading you can right-click on it and select `Show in folder’. In my `Downloads’ folder I find the new file called “microbit-Spirit-Level.hex”. Now right-click on the file name and select `Send to’, and then `MICROBIT (D:)’. The led under the m:b should flash as the code is sent to your m:b. If this is the first time you have done this – congratulations!
If you connect a battery box, you can disconnect your m:b from the computer. You now have a program running forever (maybe) in your own £15 autonomous device. If you press the Reset button it will start running again. If you disconnect the battery the program will be saved, and when you reconnect the battery your program will start running again.
All sorts of objects have microprocessors built into them to carry out such monitoring and other tasks. We now tend to use the word “smart” to indicate that a device (phone, TV, fridge, house, car engine …) has an in-built computer which can sense conditions and make actions depending on them. The technical phrase for such devices is “embedded systems”. Embedded systems which can communicate with others via the web are known as the “Internet of Things” or IoT.
The BBC has worked with its partners such as Microsoft, ARM, Lancaster University, the IET and Kitronik to develop a versatile, powerful and robust little device which allows us to create our own electronic solutions to problems and to design our own smart devices. This brains of the m:b is an ARM mbed processor which is at the heart of many smart systems in current use. The m:b has also been designed to connect to external electronic devices such as sensors and inputs so you can extend its capabilities.
Challenge 1: Now that you have finished Experiment 1, can you complete all of the projects on the pdf file called "Cross-curricular STEM activities with microbits"?
Challenge 2: Do you think you could create an "Internet of Things" IoT project to challenge your peers in other schools and in other countries? If you create a pdf document to challenge your collaborating peers, you can upload it and challenge another school.
Downloads of references and challenge documents:
Start here - cross-curricular activities with Micro:bit
Family guide to IoT and Micro:bit
Sensing and control with Micro:bit
Telemetry with Micro:bit
Example of a peer challenge - Tony and Phil
Teachers m:b Quick-Start Guide on Amazon
IoT site on m:b by Graham Hastings
BBC site to m:b and music
Micro:bit projects and resources on STEM Learning
IET resources and projects for schools
The KIKS Inventors Kit, sent out by Adrian with the m:b to international collaborating schools
Ideas for m:b and the Internet of Things, with David Whale and Computing at Schools (great content - apologies for poor sound)
Strictly Micro:bit and Live Lessons - the 45 minute full lesson on m:b for music, dance and fashion
WIRED magazine introduction to m:b, mid 2016