The Kitronik LAB:bit for the BBC microbit offers a super fun way for children to learn about coding in an engaging and hands-on way. It has been specifically designed for delivering computing to students aged 8+ and is backed by online MakeCode tutorials, simplified custom blocks, and a detailed getting started guide.
The LAB: bit is available in two versions; as a single unit, or as in a Lesson in a box classroom set. Let's take a look at each of the resources available and why they will help you in the classroom.
Custom MakeCode Editor Blocks:
Note: This is not required for completing the online tutorials. Each tutorial only adds the menu items and blocks that will be required to complete them.
The Microsoft MakeCode editor has been designed to help to introduce children to coding in a visual way. For the younger students it may still seem a little daunting at first. With this in mind, Kitronik has developed some custom blocks for LAB:bit that you can add to the editor easily (see the instructions below). We've done this for the two following reasons;
- 1. All of the key blocks needed for all of the LAB:bit features are available in one menu.
- 2. They further simplify coding for the LAB:bit for the younger learners.
No more wondering what blocks you might need or hunting through menus to find them.
Adding the Custom Blocks to the Menu:
- Go to the MakeCode Editor.
- Click on the New Project Button and name your project.
- Click on the cog icon in the top right of the editor.
- Type and enter Kitronik into the search bar.
- Scroll through our custom blocks until you find the tile for LAB:bit, click it to open.
- You will now see LAB:bit added to the menu.
If you click on LAB:bit in the menu, it will open out the submenus and you can see each area/feature of LAB:bit represented by a sub menu. In each sub menu are the blocks that allow the learner to take control of the feature with code. The LAB:bit menu is as follows;
- Inputs - Containing 6 blocks to control three features of the board.
- Traffic Light - Containing 3 Blocks for pedestrian crossing type projects.
- Dice - Containing 4 blocks for taking control of the dice feature.
- Colour Lights - Containing 10 blocks to allow you control over the ZIP LEDs.
- Motor - Containing 2 simple blocks for control of the onboard motor.
Once you/a student has worked through the online MakeCode tutorials, the user will gain a full understanding of how to use each of the blocks to take full control of all of the features of LAB:bit.
The Online MakeCode Tutorials:
Kitronik has produced 7 online MakeCode tutorials to work through that will give examples of all the different inputs and outputs and hardware usable on the LAB:bit. These tutorials can be followed by teachers and, with an appropriate level of guidance, pupils. The knowledge gained will fully unlock the 'secrets' of the board and give the young learners an invaluable head start in the next stages of their schooling.
Each tutorial only adds the menu items and blocks that will be required to complete them.
Lesson 1 - Make a Switch:
Learn how to create a home made switch and use it with the Kitronik LAB:bit. The tutorial will go through what switches are and how they are used, creating a simple program to show when the switch is working. This will be followed by testing different materials.
Lesson 2 - Make a Dice:
Learn how to create a digital dice on the Kitronik LAB:bit. The tutorial will go through what LEDs are and how to control them, and then different ways of activating the dice to give us a number.
Lesson 3 - Colouring a rainbow:
Learn how to use the ZIP LEDs with the Kitronik LAB:bit. The tutorial will go through how to set the ZIP LEDs up, how to pick the colours and other features.
Lesson 4 - Traffic lights.:
Learn how to control the Traffic Light sequence on the Kitronik LAB:bit. The tutorial will go through how to control the traffic light LEDs and the sequence/algorithm that is used.
Lesson 5 - Controlling motors:
Learn how to use an analog input and then use it to control the speed of a motor on the Kitronik LAB:bit. The tutorial will go through what an analog input is and how is can be used to control a motor.
Lesson 6 - Scare the micro:bit:
This tutorial will show how to detect sound levels with the microphone on the Kitronik LAB:bit. The tutorial will go through what an analog input is and how it can be used to create a fun mini game to scare the BBC micro:bit.
Lesson 7 - Parking sensor:
This tutorial will demonstrate the use of the ultrasonic sensor on the Kitronik LAB:bit. The tutorial will go through how an ultrasonic sensor works and creating a parking sensor.
The printed getting started guide that is supplied with the kit plus the above online resources and custom MakeCode blocks make teaching computing and basic coding to children aged 8+ as easy as is possible. The tutorials can be worked through at a pace that is appropriate for the situation and in such a way that it is easy for the teacher to provide support.
- Kitronik LAB:bit for BBC micro:bit.
- Kitronik Lesson in a Box - Primary Computing Pack for BBC micro:bit.
- LAB:bit tech talk- live stream playback.
- 7 online MakeCode experiments that teach you how to create code for each area of the board, they are.
- Lesson in a box introduction.
- Tech Talk with Caroline Keep - live replay.
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