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Introduction to Physical Computing with micro:bit

The Introduction to Physical Computing with micro:bit quarter-long middle school course will utilize micro:bit devices in order to give students the opportunity to apply knowledge of basic programming concepts (control structures, variables, functions, etc.) to a physical device. They will learn how to perform basic physical tasks using LEDs, buttons, and basic sensors.

Syllabus

Units: 3
Timeframe: Quarter
Contact Hours: 50

By the Numbers


Contact Hours 50
Lessons 17
Videos 23
Exercises 24
Challenges 5
Offline Handouts 73

Units

Unit Description
Intro to micro:bit: Students go through the basics of the micro:bit, such as how to light up and change the brightness of LEDs, and learn how variables can be used to write more versatile programs. Students will build circuits to control external LEDs with the micro:bit and explore how pseudocode can be used to structure programs from the start.
Program Control with micro:bit: Students will apply control structures, such as if/else statements and loops to create programs that will react to the outside world. They will build programs that use the built-in sensors that detect temperature, light, and acceleration, as well as external sensors, such as an ultrasonic range finder, which detects the distance from the device to nearby objects.
Advanced micro:bit: Students will have a chance to explore all of the capabilities of the micro:bit on their own! They will research, explore, and teach their peers about new sensors, follow directions to build an advanced device, and have a chance to create their very own micro:bit machine.

Format of Course

This course utilizes a blended classroom approach. The content is provided through a mix of web-based and physical exercises, with students writing and running code in the browser and then downloading code to their physical devices for further testing and exploration. Each unit is broken down into lessons which are made up of video tutorials, short quizzes, pseudocode exercises, physical explorations, example programs, and written programming exercises. The course is designed for a quarter long class that meets 5 days per week, though schools implement it in a variety of ways.

Required Materials

For students to fully experience physical computing, they’ll need access to a few materials. These include the micro:bit device, various wires to connect external components and sensors, and breadboards which allow for more complex circuit builds. A complete list can be found at codehs.com/microbit_materials.
In the final module of the course, students will explore additional sensors on their own and teach their peers how they can be incorporated in different projects. You may provide options or allow students to research various sensors on their own, but these should be provided to students in addition to the required materials list.

Who is it for?

This course is designed to reinforce understanding of computer science concepts by applying them to physical devices. It is assumed students have introductory knowledge of variables, control structures, and functions. Students should have completed (or be concurrently enrolled in) an introductory programming course. The following courses would work as a concurrent prerequisite:

  • Intro to Python with Tracy
  • Intro to Programming with Karel
    • Note: This course does not cover variables, so teachers will likely need to supplement instruction in the physical computing course.
  • Intro to Computer Science in JavaScript
  • Intro to Computer Science in Python
  • AP Computer Science Principles
  • AP Computer Science A

Demos

Students begin by developing simple programs utilizing on screen LEDs:
Moving Bright Box Exercise
They move on to write programs that utilize internal and external sensors:
Brightness by Acceleration Exercise
And complete the course writing programs that include control structures and external components:
Challenge: LED Arrow Following Servo

Interested?

Interested in teaching the Introduction to Physical Computing with micro:bit course with CodeHS? Get in touch, so we can help you bring CodeHS to your school!

Bring to My School

Standards

Introduction to Physical Computing with micro:bit is aligned with the following standards

Standards Framework View Alignment
Alaska 6-8 View (53.8%)
California 6-8 View (50%)
CSTA 2 View (47.8%)
Georgia Foundations of Computer Programming View (57.6%)
Maryland 6-8 View (40.9%)
Wyoming 6-8 View (44%)
New Jersey 6-8 Computer Science View (44%)
Utah 6 View (42.9%)
Utah 7 View (75%)
Utah 8 View (66.7%)