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Hua Yi Secondary School School-based Training Workshop on BBC Micro:bit

STEM Inc conducted our first school-based training workshop on 29 September 2017, which was for the ALP teachers from Hua Yi Secondary School. Teacher training is one of the seven-pronged Continued Support services that STEM Inc offers to STEM ALP schools, with school-based workshops being one of the teacher training workshops we provide. In school-based workshops, our STEM Inc consultation team, comprising a Curriculum Specialist and a MOE seconded teacher, will customise the training content according to the needs of individual schools’ ALP team, thus the term “school-based”. During a routine visit to the school for lesson observation and discussion, our consultation team found out that the school was interested in BBC Micro:bit and was exploring the possibility of incorporating BBC Micro:bit into their ALP curriculum. It took several correspondences between the ALP coordinator and our consultation team to firm up the training objectives and deliverables for 17 teacher participants, as well as the pedagogical design of the workshop based on the participants’ profile.

Fronted by our seconded teacher, Ms Cindy Tiong, the training workshop covered both the hardware and software of BBC Micro:bit. This was the first time that the teacher participants tried block programming. They first learnt to code and display numbers, customised words (e.g. Hello) and animated icons on the LED display. After that, they were taught how to code to control the blinking frequency of each LED on the display. The teacher participants also explored using the built-in accelerometer on the Micro:bit board to vary the light intensity of the LEDs, as well as creating a digital die that randomly selects a number between 1 and 6 when someone shakes the Micro:bit board.

Apart from the hands-on learning activities, our consultation team also prepared a gallery walk comprising seven BBC Micro:bit project showcases: steps counter, smart lighting and fan, photo-taking and music-playing using Micro:bit as a controller board (via Bluetooth communication), remote-controlled car, and games such as PAC-man and Ping Pong. The steps counter and smart lighting and fan projects were specially selected and prototyped as they can be programmed with BBC Micro:bit and also Arduino, which is what Hua Yi Secondary School currently uses for their STEM ALP. The circuit set-ups and codes of the BBC Micro:bit and Arduino prototypes were placed side by side to allow the teacher participants to compare between these two micro-controllers.

Our school-based workshop with Hua Yi Secondary School concluded with a brief reflections on the participants’ take-away from the training. The hands-on activities and gallery walk have definitely helped our teacher participants to appreciate the ease of learning coding with block programming, as well as the versatility of Micro:bit in creating projects that are simple to build and comparable to the Arduino micro-controller.

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The Micro:bit training for Hua Yi Secondary School. We had both the seconded teacher and STEM educators assisting the teacher participants during the hands-on learning activities.

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Some of the teacher participants exploring the learning activities on their own using the coding guides provided.

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Project showcase booth on steps counter using Micro:bit Grove board (left) and Arduino Grove board (right).

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Our seconded teacher, Xiangting, explaining how the steps counter works to Hua Yi Sec teachers.

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Project showcase booth – Smart lighting LEDs and fan using Micro:bit board (left) and Arduino board (right). Teacher participants get to compare the breadboard circuit set-ups between the two micro-controllers.

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Our STEM Educator, Pei Shan, explaining how BBC Micro:bit can be used as a controller to remote control a car via Bluetooth.

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Positive feedback gathered from our satisfied participants after the training workshop!

Written by:

Cindy Tiong