Sponsoring parts is not enough, user education is as important

April 20, 2016 | 12:26
These children of East Killbride are now programming experts (source NXP)
These children of East Killbride are now programming experts (source NXP)
In an effort to show that programming and technology is not always difficult and can even be fun, last month the BBC has started to distribute about one million micro:bit microcontroller boards to eleven- and twelve-year old schoolchildren for free. Although simplicity is key, the young programmers will need some guidance to get started. But what to do if the teachers have as little programming experience as their pupils?

Providing parts for free is not enough, the technology providers must also educate the users. And their teachers...

This highly ambitious micro:bit project is also highly sponsored as technology providers try to secure their future supply of engineers. One of the main sponsors is NXP who donated the Kinetis KL26 microcontroller (mbed interface), the board’s two motion sensors (MMA8652 3-axis accelerometer and a MAG3110 3-axis magnetometer) and an PRTR5V0U2F electro-static protection device, four million devices in total. In the hope to turn some of this investment to good use, NXP’s “Smarter World Tour” truck made a stop at East Kilbride, near Glasgow, so that NXP engineers could explain the micro:bit basics to forty students from seven schools, and their teachers. The young participants were taught some basic programming tasks as well as more technically challenging tasks like generating a compass and auto pilot application.

Why East Kilbride, of all places? Because that is where NXP’s main UK office is located.
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