Microbit Coding Class

Instructor: Elizabeth Shimada

Course Length: Two semesters. Class meets weekly. 

Type of Class: Group meetings through HEART Academy 

When: Friday, 12:20-1:35 pm 

Fee payable to the teacher: $70/month 

Lab one-time fee: $40 (includes Microbit board which student keeps) 

Curriculum: Handouts. 

Minimum – Maximum Class Size: 6 students 

Questions: Elizabeth Shimada lizshimada@gmail.com 

Grade Levels: 5th – 9th grade 

Prerequisites: Student must have their own working own laptop with USB port and wifi capability. This is a beginning microcontroller coding class. Those with prior hardware coding experience are better off in another class using more complex microcontroller boards (Arduino, Raspberry Pi,…). Students should have good attention and listening skills and be comfortable using their laptop (saving and opening files, navigating windows, etc.)

Course Goal The goal of this class is introduce students to microcontroller programming and provide a practical understanding of hardware, software, and programming. Microcontroller programming is popular for robotics. It is also a very fun way to learn about computers and computer programming because of the quick feedback watching “software control hardware.” 

Course Description This is an introductory course on microcontroller programming. Students will learn about hardware, software, and programming or “coding” basics (values, strings, functions, input, output, decisions, loops,…). The hardware is BBC’s “Microbit,” a tiny, programmable computer on a 2 inch long by 1-1/2 inch printed circuit board. Students connect the Microbit to their laptop computer via USB. They create or program software “code” on their Windows PC. Programming through makecode, a web-based “drag and drop” block coding application: https://makecode.microbit.org/#. After programming, their code is downloaded to Microbit, stored, and automatically run. The process, from start to finish, is relatively quick and satisfying. 

Microbit packs in a number of cool on-board features: 25 LED lights, 2 buttons, radio and Bluetooth antenna (to communicate and interact with other Microbits), compass (for direction), and accelerometer (for motion detection). Microbit also has a battery socket so it can operate standalone using a battery. Edge connectors are provided for accessories. More information on these features here: https://microbit.org/guide/features/ 

During each class, the students will learn about Microbit hardware (processor, controller, printed circuit board, connectors, ports, integrated circuits, switches, LEDs,…). They will then be guided through the steps to program their Microbit and complete a project. Most of these projects are supported by BBC at https://makecode.microbit.org/#. o First, tutorial projects will teach the basics of Microbit. Tutorial projects include Flashing Heart, Name Tag, Smiley Buttons, Dice, and variations of these programs. Other coding projects will be game-based, blue tooth-based, and science-based, like Rock-Paper-Scissors, Coin Flipper, Step Counter and War. Other projects will connect Microbit to accessories and external data, like Ring and Reaction Time. As the students gain skills and confidence programming Microbit, they will be guided in developing variations of existing projects and creating interactive blue-tooth games for the class to enjoy. 

Grading There is no grading in this course. If you desire grading, contact teacher. 

Homework Students should complete all projects within the week they are given in class. Contacting the teacher outside the class for support is encouraged so students do not get behind in what they need to learn week-to-week to stay up with the increasing complexity of the projects. 

Attendance When students miss class, they should contact the teacher to get the necessary info to complete the project at home. 

Before the First Class Contact the teacher at lizshimada@gmail.com to let her own what type of laptop you have and how you have tested its USB and wifi capability. 

What to Bring to Class Students should bring to every class: 

  • laptop with working USB and wifi 
  • Microbit and cable (given on first day of class) 
  • folder, pencil and paper ☺ 

Contacting the Teacher lizshimada@gmail.com