Breadboarding + Micro:bit - WICO Summer 2019 3.3
This past week at WICOsummer camp we tried a different approach for introducing electronic elements like LEDs, batteries, sensors and homemade switches. For the first two weeks we tried a playful breadboarding activity where the group explored breadboards and made a mini collaborative sculpture.
This felt like a tinkerable first step toward adding lights and switches to project. But in our reflection discussions, we thought that the activity was a bit unrelated to the subsequent camp projects. We liked introducing resistors to power the LEDs safely with 9V batteries, but these concepts were unnecessary when we moved on to mirco:bit.
We were a bit leery of introducing breadboards and programming LEDs at the same time because of the complex concepts involved, this approach did give us the chance to present the idea of pins, digital/analog and read/write before programming servo motors which felt like a more clear progression.
For the workshop we started by showing the breadboard (and the big cardboard example) and demonstrating how to turn on a light using the 3V and GND pins. connected to a breadboard with a special wire with an alligator clip on one side and a pin on the other. Campers (working in pairs) had a chance to try to just use the microcontroller as a power supply and experiment with different types of LEDs.
Next we moved the clip to the pin 0, talked a bit about the blocks in the ‘pins’ category in Make Code and then gave they the change to experiment with programming the lights. Some example codes were making the lights blink or fade, making button A and B turn the lights on or off and coding some of the other onboard inputs to have new light effects.
One last mini innovation that we tried to help learners get a little bit further with the LED explorations was color coding the legs of RGB leds so that the group could quickly get started programming the colors. For these elements, campers connected each of the legs to a different pin using the breadboard.
The summer camp is giving our team of educators the chance to prototype ways of introducing computational tinkering activities. Its been great to try to develop new strategies for lowering the threshold for these experiences while still giving learners the chance to get an idea of the elements needed to develop projects with wide walls.