Good morning everyone!
It’s great to see all our ninjas again and welcome to our new ninjas!
We have some fun activities lined up for the next few weeks which we are looking forward to.
Our main focus over the next term is to make use of our BBC Microbits which we received at the end of last year.
For those of you who have never used one of these before, you can find out more here
Before we begin, we are going to learn about functions.
Functions are the basis of all computers. A computer cannot think for itself – it can only follow the instructions given by a programmer. The instructions given are called function. Together, a group of functions make a computer program. The computer then knows what to do when a user tells it something. When the user gives the computer something, this is called an input. The computer does something to this input and then returns the answer which is called an output.
This is just like Function Machines which you may have covered in your maths classes. We are going to play a game now which shows how function machines works. Everyone should find a partner and collect a pen and some sticky notes from the front of the room.
Player 1 – write a number on a sticky note and give it to Player 2.
Player 2 – a sum using this number. (e.g. add 1, subtract 2, divide by 2, multiple by 3) and write the answer on the back of the sticky note. Give this back to Player 1.
Player 1 – can you guess the sum Player 2 used to get this answer?
Try this a few times then swap places and Player 2 has to guess the sum.
So how does this relate to computing? Remember when we discussed inputs, functions and outputs? The number that Player 1 wrote down was an input. The sum that was done on the number was a Function. The answer that Player 2 wrote down was an output. This is how computers work too. Player 1 was the user giving information to the computer. Player 2 was the computer who carried out a function and returned an output to the user.
Now we will look at how this translates to a microbit.
The diagram above shows all the different parts of a Microbit.
Buttons are used for Inputs. The user presses these to tell the computer something. This could be a command to switch on or switch off. It could tell it to make a sound, do some maths or some other function. There are many ways a user can send an input to a computer. For example: a keyboard, a mouse, a touchpad or a microphone.
LED lights are used for Outputs. The Microbit could return a message using the LEDs by blinking, or displaying an image. There are many ways a computer can send an output to a user. For example: a monitor, speakers or lights.
Our microbits are connected to buzzers which are also types of output devices. More input devices and output devices can be connected using the 3 input/output rings shown on the left.
The Microbit carries out functions using the processor shown in the diagram. A processor is the brain of a computer and programs are carried out using this.
So how do we program a Microbit?
There are a number of different ways using different programming languages. We are going to being by using the Make Code website. If you have used Scratch before, this will seem fairly familiar to you. Our first task is to take a look around the website. Go to https://makecode.microbit.org/#
Now we are going to build a Happy Face, Sad Face program which will show how we can use inputs and outputs. Click here to view the tutorial
In our next activity we are going to code our own Fidget Cubes. A fidget cube is a little cube with something different that you can manipulate on each surface. You can pull, press, and play with it. A microbit can also be used as a fidget cube. Start a new project and code your microbit to do something when:
Button A is pressed
Button B is pressed
Buttons A and B are pressed together
The Microbit is shaken
That’s it from us for today. We hoped you had fun learning about Microbits. We look forward to seeing you at our next session on Saturday 6th October.
The Team at Derry CoderDojo