EA 5th grade students were not shy when asked to define a micro:bit.
"It's a tiny piece of computer that can be programmed," explained Charlie.
It sounds simple enough and was not the least bit intimidating when Lower School Technology Coordinator Kim Farrell '84 recently introduced students to the small computing device. "It's a piece of technology that you can put commands into," shared Rubens.
"I think they thought it would be more complicated, but they totally got it. I am not surprised." said Mrs. Farrell.
The introduction of the micro:bit in Lower School is part of the new Computer Science and Engineering Department's curriculum. "The mission is to empower our students, PreK through 12 grade, with the knowledge and skills to excel at creative and collaborative problem-solving," explained Computer Science and Engineering Chair Matt Memmo, Hon. "We hope to shape responsible digital citizens who optimize the use of technological resources in order to address the future challenges of our global society. The micro:bit project is a means of achieving this."
"It gives them the opportunity to work with some hardware," explained Mrs. Farrell. "It can do a lot of different things like take temperatures, detect motion, and it can even turn into a fit bit."
Mrs. Farrell also wove in lessons from the Lower School science curriculum. "Students learned how the micro:bit can assess lighting in various places and measure soil moisture in which they used a probe connected to the micro:bit."
"It is really fun," said Charlie. "I like how it is more interactive."
"It is complicated and a challenge," shared Clementine. "Maybe one day I will have a job that includes this kind of technology!"
"It is really important that students understand what is going on behind the scenes and learn to dictate to the computer what they want it to do," said Mrs. Farrell. "They come up with ways to solve problems on their own and see that there is more than one right way to get there."
Students in Lindsay Jensen's 5th grade class programmed their micro:bits to play the game Rock, Paper, Scissors. "It has an accelerometer, detecting a shaking motion, that mimics a hand playing the game," explained Mrs. Farrell. "This taught them about randomization. They also made a scoreboard through the micro:bit to keep track of wins, losses, and ties."
"Next year, 5th graders moving into Middle School will be able to build upon the skills learned in Kim Farrell's class by adding more functionality and advanced programming concepts with the same micro:bit kit," said Mr. Memmo. "We really hope to inspire our students to be science and technology innovators."
"We are learning skills where maybe one day you could work at Apple!" shared Charlie.