Greetings from India!

 

Before starting this post, I'd like thank jlucas and danzima for getting the Micro: Bit and Kitronik kits shipped here. I asked John a lot of questions, and he patiently answered all of them. Special thanks to Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering, Dayananda Sagar International School, Principal sir and all the teachers involved in making this club a reality. As an engineering student with no workspace of my own, I was pretty much dependent on the school and college to help me out. The Indian education system is traditionally not really based on practical learning, so the idea of a code club with hardware based projects and working in the lab everyday seemed utterly foreign to everyone. Still, due to Element14 and the support of a lot of people, we were able to make this happen.

 

Day 0:

 

{gallery} Micro: Bit Introduction

Me explaining about the Kitronik Kit and Micro Bit to studentsAccelerometers, Dice and Hand Cricket:

Me describing what the club is all about to the intrepid young kids.

 

Before kicking things off, I had to pass a litmus test: getting the kids interested. I had to convince the kids to convince their parents that the club was worth it, and to also convince their parents that their studies wouldn't suffer. I gave them a short prep talk about what the Micro: Bit was, what sensors it had built in, what we could attach to it using the Kitronik Kits and other hardware and of course, what projects could be done with it. With the help of Madhu Sir, their computer science teacher, I drew up a list of activities and projects that could be done in hour long classes held everyday, during class hours. These projects range from communication, to voting, games, environment, energy conservation and a lot more with the last week being devoted to them building their own projects and games for the Summer gaming challenge. 

 

The kids were excited, asked a ton of questions. Special thanks to the folks at Microsoft for making an offline version of MakeCode ( https://makecode.microbit.org/offline  ) . We only had access to rather antiquated computers and no internet, making the offline version a necessity. After this, we began with the club the next day.

 

Day 1:

We began with the MakeCode classics, A blinking heart introduced students to the block based MakeCode environment, and they learnt how to manipulate the LED matrix on the Micro:Bit. This was followed by the name tag, and the students instantly linked it to something they'd seen in the real world: Buses that ply on the roads here have such LED Boards.

 

Accelerometers, Dice and Hand Cricket:

We moved on the electronic dice example in MakeCode, which uses the accelerometer to detect when the Micro bit is shook and then displays a random number on the screen. While this is a nice example, our students decided to give it their own twist by turning it into a game that almost every student in India has played: Hand Cricket. For those unaware, you can check out the instructable on how to play hand cricket here https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Play-Hand-Cricket/ . Here is a gist of the rules:

 

  • Students play the toss by asking odd or even? the students then indicate numbers with their fingers in a throwing motion (like how people play rock, paper, scissors). Then by adding the numbers indicated on the fingers, a person gets to choose to bat or bowl.
  • The Batsman and bowler indicate numbers between 1 to 6 in rapid succession, with the bowler trying to get the batsman 'out' by putting the same number as the batsman. The batsman rapidly adds the runs scored in his head (This game makes kids pretty good at addition!).
  • After the batsman is out, the bowler bats and tries to outscore the batsman. If he gets out before the batsman's score, he loses, else he wins.

 

As you must have realized by now, the only thing the Micro:Bit has to do is detect a shake and display a random number. And so, the students got started playing! (Apologies for the noisy video).

A Personal project and a few more pictures:

 

More posts will follow soon