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Views and feedback

Feedback from the sessions in December are very encouraging. When students were asked to grade out of 5 the sessions overall ( scores with 1 being poor and 5 excellent) of the twenty replies received 100% were rate at 4 (65%)or 5(35%). In all the questions asked, the feedback was in the majority rated three or above.

For this group of the students the creative aspects of the activities engaged them and this was reflected in their feedback. Quotes from some of the students:
“it was fun and creative, I learnt quite a bit”
“It let use be creative with our design.”
“it opened my eyes to engineering”
This last on is especially of note as the aim of the project is to encourage engagement with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.

The waste management activities seem to engage from the point of view of helping them to understand their own impact both positively and negatively.
“...it was cool to know what my carbon footprint is.”
“... made me think about all the waste in the world.”
“[I] now recycle”

An observation that needs to be unpacked a little more is the language the students used. Each reply was an individual reply, but in many cases ‘we’ and ‘us’ was used. This could be indicative that these students did see it as a group activity (which it was intended to be). A couple of quotes from one of the students on this point
“We liked this activity because it help us work as a team.”
“We really enjoyed ourselves over the last 4 days. We found it very useful.”

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Controlling a junkbot with a Micro:bit

A new direction has been developed for the junkbot project (http://junkbots.blogspot.co.uk/); previously Raspberry Pis have been used to control the junkbot’s movement (http://robotsandphysicalcomputing.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/python-junkbot.html) – but what about the recently released Micro:Bits; can it be used to control a junkbot?
Matthew Hole, a student from Wrenn Academy, Northamptonshire ; has been investigating this idea whilst on a Nuffield Research Placement (http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/nuffield-research-placements) working with Dr Scott Turner, University of Northampton. The project was to look into developing junkbots controlled using a Micro:bit and also to produce some materials for schools to use with or without outside assistance.





What is a Junkbot? For this project, it is a moving ‘bot’ made from waste materials, combined with an electric motor and a programmable device (in this case a Micro:Bit) to control (or try) it. An example is shown above. More details on junk…

Do it yourself: 'Radio' Controlled Micro:Bit Junkbot

I
In an earlier post, I showed how you could build a Micro:Bit controlled Junkbot. In this post I want to show a modification to it, to use one Micro:Bit to control the junkbot controlled by another Micro:Bit. A nice feature of the Micro:Bit using micropython, is it can send and receive simple messages via radio - so here is my take on it.

The first problem is the Python editor available on https://www.microbit.co.uk/ does not seem to work with the radio API. One solution to this is to change to the mu editor.


Two pieces of code are needed.

Sending Code for the 'remote' control:
Essentially it is set up to send two messages, via the built-in radio module, spinl or spinr depending on which button is pressed.

import radio
from microbit import button_a, button_b

radio.on()

while True:
   if button_a.is_pressed():
       radio.send('spinl')
   if button_b.is_pressed():

       radio.send('spinr')

Junkbot Code
This takes an adapted form of the previous Junkbot code to work by; on r…