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Year 7 micro:bit program

 
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Year 10 student Harrison Asmar is playing the role of Indro's critical friend in Digital Citizenship and curriculum innovation.

Indooroopilly State High School started a pilot program this term to introduce the micro:bit to students in Year 7.  The micro:bit is a pocket-sized codeable computing device designed by the BBC for use in education.  

Students in accelerated learning programs have been using the micro:bit in Science, Mathematics and Music, providing valuable feedback for the program's roll-out to the Year 7s of 2021.

Harrison and his employer, Robotics Playground CEO and founder Wilson Kong, took teachers through some of the possibilities and outcomes for the project at a recent professional development workshop.

Project leader Lyn McErlean, Head of Department – Design and Technologies, said staff were really engaged and excited about the curriculum possibilities. They worked on building maths variables, a water sensor and a Mars space robot.

 "It is intended the micro:bit will be included as an enrichment opportunity to enhance technology and digital citizenship among Year 7 students, improving capabilities such as critical thinking and problem solving," Mrs McErlean said.

"Students involved in the trial are already demonstrating coding success and responding to tasks with use of the micro:bit."

Junior School Principal Timothy Barraud said the micro:bit was part of the school's Digital Citizenship Strategy, supporting curriculum innovation with digital technology while giving students greater exposure to STEM-related opportunities.

He said Harrison was giving the school expert feedback from a student perspective on creating lessons in the micro:bit as well as in wider curriculum innovation.

"He's also involved in implementing decisions on how we need to venture forward with digital citizenship and capabilities in coding and is open to supporting and working with our Junior Secondary students," Mr Barraud said.

Harrison works on the school holidays teaching some of the robotics and engineering classes at Robotics Playground as the company's High School Liaison and Student Engineering Extraordinaire.

His advice on curriculum development is based on his experience as a student doing subjects such as Digital Technologies and Solutions in Years 9 and 10, and his self-taught skills in Python, C++, and JavaScript.

"The micro:bit is a little bit smaller than a credit card and basically it's a little circuit board where you can plug a battery into a portable computer with some LEDs, buttons and some other sensors," Harrison said.

"It's a really good starting point for robotics and programming. There's the ability to code in blocks for the younger people or people who aren't experienced. When they get more experienced, they can change it into the text mode, which is proper real-world programming."

He appreciated the fact that the program would have scope for exploration for students who were able to complete the tasks quickly.

Mr Kong, a mechatronics engineer who teaches programming at The University of Queensland, said Harrison's perspective as a past student in Robotics Playground's programs had also been valuable to his STEM education company.

"He's given us really valuable feedback on new ideas for sessions and how to better what we've done in the past," he said.

 Mr Kong said if you were to describe a robot, the micro:bit would be the brain. It does, however, have the capacity to do tasks as a separate component, using lights and sensors to allow it to react to its surroundings.

"The idea with the micro:bit pilot program is not to have students do techology for technology's sake. It's applying technology to what they're doing," he said.

He said the teachers at the professional development session were brimming with ideas on how to use the micro:bit in their lessons.

"Teachers immediately expanded on what they know they can teach, so that was amazing to see. Within a space exploration Science topic, they could put meaning behind it and thought behind the narrative."

He said STEM was about a growth mindset, embracing failure and trying new things.

"One of the philosophies I have is teaching is the best way to learn," he said.

"Even as an engineer, the learning comes from having a task and having to solve that task like a problem. It's much less about technical prowess.

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Last reviewed 24 November 2020
Last updated 24 November 2020