Los Coches Creek Middle School is computer science & media arts middle school, and this year we had the opportunity to be a pilot site for Roger Wagner’s MakerBit. MakerBit allows students to add interactivity to their traditional school projects, and from there, go on to exploring coding and fulfilling the objectives of a computer science class.

The MakerBit process begins with making an example interactive volcano model, and after they completed it, I asked the students how they found the lesson. Here is what Dakota said: “I think the instructions were clear. The project was very fun as well! I enjoyed doing it.“ She is only one of the many students who gave me a positive feedback. 

MakerBit is a board that is connected to micro:bit. You may ask why we need a MakerBit in addition to micro:bit. MakerBit is a bridge between the digital world of the micro:bit and digital media. Its user friendly components, that can easily be connected to the MakerBit, make assembling projects very easy. It takes away the burden of physical computing and lets students enjoy creating fun, interactive projects. 

The curriculum is very flexible and allows you to integrate other subjects into coding. Your only limit is your imagination. For example, after completing the Interactive Volcano project, my students created their own posters based on Ancient Civilizations that they have studied in their history class. After they completed their posters, they added LED lights, and touch sensors to it. Each touch sensor would respond to either Wikipedia, Youtube video, LED light or their own Google Doc. Here is a picture of one of the projects: 

Everyone can code with the MakerBit using Microsoft’s MakeCode block programming environment. The engaging curriculum provides guided coding projects. Once students complete the provided programming, they can take their project further. The  picture below is a great example for it. After completing the program for 2 traffic lights, one group expanded their project to a 4 traffic lights and 2 crosswalks. By doing that, students learned the logic of programming by using conditional statements and functions. 

It is great to see my students walking into my class, excited about the projects they are working on. I love watching them help each other, inspiring each other, and coming up with ideas to implement in their projects. The conversation between students – to solve the problems they are tackling – is amazing! I recommend that everyone give MakerBit a try in their classrooms. I promise you will love it!

Please visit Makerbit.com. Follow MakerBit on Twitter @theMakerBit. For more information, please contact Matthew Evans at matthew@makerbit.com

Seval Karanfil is a computer science teacher at Los Coches Creek Middle School in San Diego, California. She loves working with new technologies so that her students are can work on developing computer science skills, including programming skills, graphic design skills, and web design skills. She is proud to be part of a great school that provides a safe, nurturing, and productive environment for all students to learn and grow. Follow her on Twitter: @Seval_Karanfil

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