Students’ applications to be incorporated into BBC micro:bit ecosystem

Published: 6 Jan 2017

A group of ambitious A-level students have developed applications and code that will be incorporated into the BBC micro:bit ecosystem.

Computer Science students on Villiers Park Educational Trust’s five-day Inspiring Excellence Programme, which is sponsored by ARM, were challenged to design and build an application using the micro:bit (the BBC’s handheld, fully programmable computer which uses ARM® technology). Their target audience was 11 and 12 year olds, all of whom have received a micro:bit through an initiative to inspire the next generation of digital pioneers.

All of the work produced will be shared with the wider micro:bit community, and two of the five competing groups of students, who are all in Years 12 and 13, were delighted to hear that their solutions and ideas will be incorporated into the micro:bit website. The first group built reusable code ‘packages’ that can be used in the block-based micro:bit editors, creating a timer and a music playing block. The second group successfully extended an online micro:bit editor to include collaborative features such as code sharing.

The three remaining groups’ challenges were to build a game that involved the micro:bit interacting in the real world environment, to build a website that could display and run Turing Machines and finally, to build a micro:bit-based mobile phone companion.
students-giving-demonstrations-of-projects

[Students giving demonstrations of their projects to ARM engineers]

During the course students had to work closely together to learn new skills and find solutions to difficult problems. Within each team, students took on roles best matched to their skillsets including coders, researchers and designers.

“The course was really challenging. I enjoyed having a project to focus on and being able to learn new code practically,” said one student participant. “I now have greater confidence in my ability and improved knowledge.”

Another student described the course as “an unforgettable experience.”

On the final day of their course, students pitched and gave demonstrations of their products to a panel of judges at ARM’s headquarters in Cambridge. The judges were impressed with the initiative and collaborative approach of the students and each of the teams successfully managed to produce functional applications and open-source code that the micro:bit community is free to use and adapt.

students-presenting-their-applications

[Students presenting their applications]

Having spent a week using the micro:bit, students also had the opportunity to feedback any problems or challenges that they had experienced to the micro:bit project’s technical experts at ARM.

”ARM is a long-term supporter of the valuable work carried out by Villiers Park Educational Trust. This challenge was a great opportunity to combine the brilliance of the students with the power of the BBC micro:bit,” said Simon Humphrey, Corporate Responsibility Manager, ARM. “The results from all the teams were highly impressive from both a creative and a technical perspective.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1) The BBC micro:bit enables children to get creative with technology. It is a handheld, fully programmable computer given to every Year 7 child across the UK – and now being used around the world. It’s 70 times smaller and 18 times faster than the original BBC Micro computers used in schools in the early 1980s. The micro:bit uses ARM mbed™ hardware, software development kits (HDK and SDK) and compiler services.

2) Villiers Park Educational Trust is a registered charity with more than 50 years of experience – Inspiring young people to fulfil their potential by helping them develop a passion for learning and raising their aspirations.  The charity is committed to fair access – enabling students from less advantaged backgrounds to gain places at leading universities and to thrive once there.

3) For further information or photos please contact Catherine Jones, Communications Assistant, Villiers Park Educational Trust, cj@villierspark.org.uk, 01223 872601