You will need
- Access to a computer
- Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
- Torch or phone
- Micro:bit MakeCode editor
- USB A to micro USB B cables
- Micro:bit battery packs
- Crocodile clip leads
- Additional input and output materials (buttons or buzzers)
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.
- It’s easy to get hold of cables with crocodile clips online.
- If your meeting place has internet access, you can run the micro:bit MakeCode editor in a web browser by following this link.
- If you don’t have internet access, don’t worry. If you’re using Windows 10, you can download and install the free MakeCode app. Once it’s downloaded and installed, you can use it without an internet connection.
- 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?
Introducing: the micro:bit
- Everyone should get into pairs or small groups.
- 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.
- If people aren’t experienced with micro:bits and the MakeCode editor, the person leading the activity should show everyone how to connect the micro:bit with a USD cable and download a program.
Code the micro:bit
- Each group should get a computer, a handout, a micro:bit, a USB A to USB B cable, a battery pack, a crocodile clip lead, and a torch. The torch can be one on a mobile phone.
- The person leading the activity should show everyone how to open the micro:bit MakeCode editor.
- Everyone should follow the instructions in the ‘Notes and handout’ sheet to code their micro:bits.
- Everyone should check that the maximum in ‘pick random’ matches the total number of actions. They should also check that the metal part of the crocodile clip is touching the pin – if the pin touches the sleeve, it won’t work.
Play the game
- Everyone should join with at least one other group to play the game.
- If there’s more time, people could extend the game further.
- Before they finish, everyone should take time to reflect.
This activity was all about developing skills. People made an electronic game that interacts with the wider world using code. How did it feel to make their own game, rather than buying or downloading one? Was it as difficult as people expected? Can anyone think of another game they could make that fits in with their hobbies and interests? What other skills did people use in this activity?
- 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.