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6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions
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6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by mcoleyaae on Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:19 am

In the fall of 2019 I will be teaching a 14 week intro. to computer science course for the first time. I would like to have them use microbits and introduce them to Python. Any suggestions regarding curriculum/projects? Thanks

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Re: 6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by kcl1s on Thu Jan 24, 2019 12:17 pm

If you have not settled on hardware for this course you might want to consider the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express. https://www.adafruit.com/product/3333 They also come in an educators pack. https://www.adafruit.com/product/3399 While slightly more than the Microbit the CPx has a lot more going on, on the board. The Neopixels on them are a hit with the students and a great way to visually demonstrate how for or repeat loops work. In addition to the 2 physical buttons most of the alligator clip friendly I/O pads can act as touch switches which allows all the functionality of the Makey Makey board (Banana Piano, Playdough switches, etc.) The IR Tx/Rx allows interactive multiple CPx projects.

I teach a public library after school program for ages 10 - 14 and I chose the CPx as the hardware for the program. While my library program does not have a 'curriculum' This is how I structure the program. I find that young students learn the concepts faster starting with block code.

I begin with code.org Express course. https://code.org/educate/curriculum/express-course I pick and choose what to cover and usually spend about 10 hours in class on it. Since it is self paced I encourage students to work on it at home also.

Then I bring out the CPx's to introduce coding on hardware. We again start with the blocks using MakeCode. https://learn.adafruit.com/makecode Once they understand the basics of getting code onto the CPx we start exploring the many tutorial projects on the site. This can easily take 10 class hours or more.

With what time we have left I introduce the text based languages on hardware. I use Circuit Python https://learn.adafruit.com/welcome-to-circuitpython/overview which is Adafruit's version of Micro Python. The Mu Editor is simple enough to not overwhelm the students but still provide a good platform for learning. We usually spend 4 to 8 class hours on Python.

To be honest we usually start losing students when we switch to Python as this is an after school (not required) activity. We have to balance learning and fun to keep them interested. It will be different for a school program.

Hope this helps
Keith Lohmeyer
Volunteer tech teacher
Bridgeville Public Library
Delaware, USA

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Re: 6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by mcoleyaae on Sun Jan 27, 2019 4:28 pm

yes your post was extremely helpful. Thank you

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Re: 6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by kevinjwalters on Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:27 am

I run an after school session for 9-10 year olds (younger than US Grade 6) using Code Club material. We concentrate on Scatch. In the past after Scratch we have tried python and html (on desktop computers) and former is a bit of a leap for most. We have dabbled in micro:bit too, the things we tried in the past didn't really fill the 50 minutes.

I'd also be tempted to keep a high degree of fun and relevance to real world to avoid the risk of putting children off.

I like the CPX boards. I have only demo'ed things on them to children so far. I would advise testing anything you may use ASAP in your environment to ensure all aspects of it work. School computers are likely to have lots of restrictions on software and usb device support.

Kitronik have some fun and inexpensive micro:bit add-ons, many of these are targeted at educational market and they are developing the Kitronik University.

Note: Scratch 3 has just come out so ensure you have matching course/materials if you choose that, lots will still be V2.
Last edited by kevinjwalters on Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:41 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: 6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by kcl1s on Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:31 am

I second the test any hardware and software early. Get your IT department on board. I have run into some resistance from IT. If your program was conceived/mandated by someone higher up the school hierarchy leverage them with the IT people.

Keith

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Re: 6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by kevinjwalters on Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:27 pm

I just discovered micro:mag - an (unofficial) micro:bit community magazine. That might be worth a look for educational ideas and material.

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Re: 6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by bwoollcombe on Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:26 pm

Kcl1s uses essentially the same resources and gear as me, but I also have access to MicroBits. I agree with their recommendations.

If I couldn’t have both boards, I’d choose the CPX by a hair. The resources for Microbits are vast, but the CPX board is more appealing and Adafruit’s resources are quite good.
Scratch! and Makecode Arcade are great for play, but Code.org really gets to the concepts. If you want to break your assessment down by concepts, it’s easy to isolate Conditionals, Variables, Loops, Functions, etc.

The whole shebang, instruction and coding for either board, is online and requires no personally identifying information, so your privacy folks should be happy. Yes, USB has to accept external drives and the firewall needs to let Makecode and Code.org through. Bring Swedish Fish to your IT folks... it’ll happen. Test what you find essential, but when kids start to really inquire you’ll have to troubleshoot together. Embrace it.

A couple sheets of LED RGB sequins, some cheap servos, copper tape, test leads, and cardboard are in my ‘essentials’ pack, too.

And have huge amounts of fun.

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Re: 6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by kevinjwalters on Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:33 am

It looks like some exhibitors did a fair amount of work for the large, educational BETT show in London recently. I visited last year to see Robotical and have a look around. I was surprised how huge it was and that it had such an international draw. I've only just noticed there are more this year, dotted around the world: Kuala Lumpur, Abu Dhabi, Sao Paolo and Mexico City.

You might be able to pluck a few projects from these or just use these as inspiration. Kitronik built a city for their stand and have published the details on their blog including code. They have a nice MakeCode/micro:bit powered "Big Ben" tower.

If you have budget then it could also be worth investing some time in checking out the exhibitors. I just stumbled across one that's offering a commercial product for curriculum material in the education space. You have to search for the plural to find them!

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Re: 6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by kevinjwalters on Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:25 am

This isn't Python but...

Kitronik and Lorraine Underwood have just produced some lesson plans for 6 sessions aimed at 11-14 year olds ("KS3") using BBC micro:bit, MakeCode and a 24 NeoPixel micro:bit-specific ring made by Kitronik but you could substitute that for anything similar you already have or that's convenient to source (e.g. NeoPixel Ring - 24 x 5050) :


  • Lesson 1 - Getting Started With The Halo
  • Lesson 2 - Creating a compass
  • Lesson 3 - Coding A Spirit Level
  • Lesson 4 - Coding A Temperature Sensor
  • Lesson 5 - Coding A Game
  • Lesson 6 - Coding A Game (Part 2)

It looks like a lot of effort has gone into that material. I think it could be used with younger children too, depending on the student:teacher ratio.

If someone wanted to convert them to MicroPython I'm sure they'd welcome the contribution.

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Re: 6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by kevinjwalters on Thu May 16, 2019 3:12 pm

I was discussing a summer programme with a friend the other day and I realised the Scouts (UK) must have some badges/material for computing. Scouts: Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge has various things including some micro:bit based activities. Might be worth rummaging through that.

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Re: 6th Grade Coding Course Suggestions

by bhmv on Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:00 pm

Hello Adafruit,
I have used a wide variety of Adafruit's products with the Arduino Uno and Mega, and with you having Canadian suppliers of your products, it has been some time since I have ordered directly from the United States.
Over the past year I have become involved in various aspects of volunteer work at a local K-6 elementary school. On my last visit to the school I questioned some of the academic staff, as to the products being used for computer science literacy courses, and reaffirmed my belief that Chromebooks have become quite popular. The school is using the Makey Makey as well. I did mention of the Adafruit CPX which I consider an excellent product for K-12 courses. Now I say K-12 courses as I have done a fair amount of programming with the CPX and Scratch 3, and with the CPX having the ability to send characters 1-9 as well as a-z to the Scratch program, I believe you can construct software in both MakeCode and Scratch that can range from very simple to fairly complex. I have not used the CPX with the Arduino IDE, but would certainly do so for senior high courses, as then you have the ability to perform high powered tasks, such as very fast data acquisition and storage. Obviously there is great appeal to both the CPX and Scratch 3, as both these products can be run on a Chromebook.
Now, the communication from the CPX to the Scratch program is one way only. I have searched the internet intensely, Youtube and Github as well, looking for an extension to Scratch, or some way that it might be possible to transmit characters 1-9 and/or a-z from Scratch to the Makecode CPX program. This capability would then give a person the ability to create what could be fantastic user interfaces, again ranging from simple to complex, with Chromebooks. Any info I may have missed or any ideas would be welcome. Thanks.

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