The Platform

I’m proud to be one of the recipients of “The Great micro:bit Education Giveaway” and received my classroom kit a few weeks ago. I’ve been a college professor for about a decade, and have been involved with the hacker/maker community even longer. I’ve published many open-source projects with Arduino and other platforms, but I’m new to the micro:bit.

 

During my first couple of hours with the platform, I found it to be one of the simplest systems I’ve encountered. It’s incredibly well documented, and designed for a simple development chain.

The micro:bit classroom pack

The good:

    •    I can finally teach in a truly OS-agnostic way. I’ve been very frustrated in having to teach operating-systems to my students AS I teach a development system. All of them can now just use a browser and a thumbdrive-like interface on any computer they choose.

    •    The system is robust enough, that we may not need to augment the hardware. Working with limitations is always a challenge, but this little package offers an amazing amount of input and output options.

 

The bad:

    •    No built-in audio. I will try to get my students to develop their project on the stock platform, so that other teachers or makers can run their games “out of the box.”  unfortunately, audio is central to interactivity in our context.

    •    On-Device Debugging. Syntax errors are only reported when the bad code is executed. If a typo occurs in a conditional statement, the error won’t be reported until the condition is met!

    •    The battery-packs are loose by default and have no power switch, putting potential strain on the tiny power wires. — I have elected to velcro the packs to the back of the board before passing them to my students. The good news, is that this makes the board slightly more ergonomic for adult hands.

battery pack with velcro

 

The Project

This project is serving as a final group development project in a Narrative  Design class in our school’s Game Design program. Most of the students have used python before, but have never been exposed to a micro-controller platform.

 

The project traditionally combines narrative context and an enforced engagement with space or location while still using digital technologies. Past classes have used phones, QR-Codes, websites, puzzles and messaging systems to convey narrative and in-game information.

 

The project this year will require the micro:bit as a central engine, and must include a “Release package” that conveys game instructions, back-story and a small branding package. These “one-sheets” will be published here so that other classes can download the code, read the one-sheet and immediately play the games with nothing other than the micro:bit classroom kit of 10 devices with batteries, usb cables and packs.    

 

The Project Specification Sheet for this class project is located here:

[PDF]

The extra reporting and diagrams are related to previous production methods covered in the class.