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Eurotherm is at the Brighton Science Festival again for the Bright Sparks event at Hove Park School. As well as technology demos, we were looking at programming the BBC micro:bit, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and also the Scratch language.
Here’s some more information about what we were showing…
The BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized codeable computer with motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth technology, which was given free to every child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK in 2016. You can buy it from a number of places (thepihut) from around £13. You program the BBC micro:bit using any web browser which provides a simulator and the means of copying your program to the BBC micro:bit.
The micro:bit website has a number of excellent lessons which guide you through learning programming basics and the features of the BBC micro:bit.
Additional projects can be found at the Code Club website. See the Code Club website to find a local Code Club group.
Download the 2018 project worksheets here.
Also try our 2017 Workshop projects
The Khan Academy website has a number of excellent online programming courses, including the highly recommended “Intro to JS: Drawing & Animation”.
Raspberry Pi is a complete computer, about the size of a large matchbox, that costs around £30. You will also need a keyboard, mouse, screen and power supply. Alternatively, you can buy everything you need, except the screen, as a kit from Maplin. Since the display output uses HDMI, you might be able to use your TV as a screen.
Some kits to allow you to control electronics from your Raspberry Pi are available from SK Pang. The Raspberry Pi can connect to the outside world using its GPIO pins, and you can control these pins with wiringPi.
We’ll be making mods to the Minecraft game using a Rasberry Pi computer.
At BSF in 2013 we did some Python programming using the pygame addon. Here are the original instructions for our Pong game, and here is the Python code plus worksheets for our extensions to the game.
PC Pro magazine has an article on making a Raspberry Pi game in Python.
Another fun Python project is Tux Crossing from Gordons Projects.
Arduino is another great system for getting started with programming and electronics. The Arduino software is free to download and there’s a good online reference.
You can get a great starter kit with really good documentation, or a cheaper option: the Arduino Nano. For other kits and components search for “Arduino” on Amazon, eBay or other.
Scratch is a fun programming environment for learning. Programs are made by dragging and dropping colourful elements of a computer program onto the screen.
Download Scratch version 2, or the older version 1.4. With Scratch 1.4, you can use Remote Connections.
Here’s a great set of video tutorials, or read about how to control hardware using Scratch. Discover how to connect Scratch to Arduino.
At BSF in 2013 we used some projects from the Raspberry Pi Education Manual (PDF).
Construct 2 is a great free program that lets you create fun games that run in a web browser, and on some mobile devices. We showed Construct 2 at Brighton Science Festival 2012.
Greenfoot is an interactive environment for learning the Java language.
Want to join up with others to have more fun with Scratch and other languages? Why not look for a Code Club – a national network of after-school coding clubs aimed at 9-11 year olds. See also this article from Wired magazine.
If you need more information, or would just like to tell us about your project or something you’ve discovered, email firstname.lastname@example.org.