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Supported by Raspberry Pi

Micro:bit step tracker

Design pixel art icons and write a python program to create a digital step tracker.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Access to a computer
  • Micro:bits
  • Battery packs
  • USB A to USB B cables
Notes and handout (Micro:bit step tracker)
PDF – 1.6MB

Before you begin

  • Don’t panic if you’ve never used (or have never even heard of) a micro:bit before. There’s plenty of info below, and this activity’s a great way for everyone to learn. It’s a good idea to spend some time reading the information and practising before you lead the activity, though.
  • If you don’t have enough computers for everyone to work in pairs, you could run this activity as one base, so groups visit one at a time. You could also look in to visiting a local library or school to use their computers.
  • If your meeting place has internet access, everyone can use the online editor here.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have internet access. Just download and install the Mu editor before you begin. You can download it at here.
  • You may already know people with digital skills who’d love to help run this activity. Why not reach out to parents, carers, and others in your community?

 

Get to know micro:bits and Mu

  1. The person leading the activity should introduce the micro:bit. They may want to use the information in ‘What is a micro:bit?’ to help them explain what it is, what it can do, and what everyone will be using it for in this activity.
  1. Everyone should get into small groups. Each small group should gather around a computer with a micro:bit, a battery pack, and a USB A to USB B cable.
  1. The person leading the activity should give each group a copy of the ‘Notes and handout’ pack.
  2. Everyone should follow the instructions in the ‘Notes and handout’ pack to connect their micro:bit to the computer, write and check the simple Python code, and send it to the micro:bit so it displays ‘Hello world’.

Code the step counter

  1. Once each group’s comfortable that they can write, check, and transfer simple code, they should follow the instructions in the ‘Notes and handout’ pack to make a step counter.
  2. Each group should continue to follow the instructions until they have a step counter that counts steps and displays at least one ready-made and one custom icon.
  3. Everyone should come together and explain their code. Anyone who found and fixed any bugs could share their experiences with the rest of the group.

Reflection

This activity was all about developing skills. People only needed to use few lines of code to show how a step counter works – they didn’t need to learn absolutely loads to prototype a single project. Does anyone know what prototyping is? It’s about testing an idea with a small amount of code, before improving and developing it further. As people learn new skills, they could add more to the project. When else might people use digital devices with sensors in outdoor activities?

How did people feel as they worked through the instructions? Was it easy, or were some parts tricky? Did they feel pressured to create more and more complicated designs, or did they take time to celebrate every time something worked? Sometimes it can feel difficult to work on a big project – breaking it down, learning one thing at a time, and celebrating every success can make it easier. When else might it be useful to break a big project into smaller chunks?

Safety

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.