- Activity at a Glance
- Supply Kit
- Scratch Coding Cards
- Workshop Prompts
- Making Example Projects
- Facilitation Tips
- Scratch+micro:bit in Action
- About PLIX Scratch+micro:bit
Welcome to PLIX Scratch+micro:bit! This activity combines storytelling, coding, and making to engage patrons in physical tinkering while helping to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds. It's an excellent starting point for patrons to begin tinkering with hardware and software, and you can explore almost any topic using these two tools together.
Activity at a Glance
This activity works well as either a structured workshop or a drop-in activity.
- Age Range: 8+ years old
- Group Size: 5–8 participants
- Number of Facilitators: 1–2
- Activity Length: 1.5 hours for a structured workshop
- Cost: $49–$57 for 8 patrons (initial cost; micro:bits are reusable workshop to workshop)
- Prep Time: 1-1.5 hours to fold zines, configure micro:bits, make examples and setup supplies
The Sensing with Scratch+micro:bit zine provides an overview of the Scratch programming language and the programmable micro:bit computer. It includes inspiration for how you might use these tools to create projects that bridge the physical and digital worlds!
Download here →
A note about zines: Our PLIX zines are designed to be supplementary resources for patrons and librarians to refer to during workshops. They're a quick and easy way for people to learn some fundamentals. You can print them on 8.5x11" paper, and they're easy to assemble. Here’s a resource that shows you step-by-step how to cut and fold them after printing!
Scratch Coding Cards
Scratch Coding Cards are designed to give learners a tangible way to get started creating projects with Scratch. You can download a free PDF of these cards or purchase a set from No Starch Press. You can also learn more about using these cards in your programs.
In addition, the Scratch Team has created a new set of Micro:bit Scratch Coding Cards specifically for use with micro:bits. You can download a free PDF of these cards from the Scratch website. Be sure to check out the Scratch Team's additional learning resources for use with micro:bits > scratch.mit.edu/microbit.
If you do print your own cards, we recommend printing two cards per page horizontally (landscape). See below for sample print settings →
The Scratch+micro:bit activity supplies can be used with a wide variety of workshop prompts. Below you'll find a few that we love 💕— and we encourage you to come up with your own!
Finish the Story — As a group, read the beginning of a book to set up the character and story. Then, work in small teams to create an ending to the story with Scratch and micro:bit! Examples: Have the character tell a secret message on the micro:bit display; tell different endings depending on which way the micro:bit tilts; end The Very Hungry Caterpillar when the butterfly flies away.
What's Your Superpower? — Make something with Scratch+micro:bit that shows off your personal superpower. Examples: A wristband that grows a Scratch plant when you shake it (good at growing plants!); a hat that controls a Scratch memory game (good at remembering things!)
Enchanted Garden — Create an interactive garden with Scratch+micro:bit. Examples: A flower that blooms when you press the "A" or "B" button; a bee that buzzes when you shake the micro:bit.
Invent a New Musical Instrument — Supplement this activity with materials like cardboard, aluminum foil, rubber bands, boxes, and cans to invent new musical instruments and create your own sounds.
Making Example Projects
When preparing to facilitate a creative learning activity, we always recommend populating your space with diverse example projects. A good example project is thoughtfully designed to inspire your patrons, spark their curiosity, and be easy enough to understand to support them in getting started with the activity.
Check out the guide below for step-by-step instructions for making your own Scratch+micro:bit kit examples!
Learn more about the art of the example in our PLIX Guide to Making Activity Examples.
This activity is designed to invite learners of all backgrounds into tinkering with coding and electronics. By combining Scratch with micro:bit, participants are encouraged to tinker both on-screen and off-screen, while inventing new ways for these two worlds to interact. When facilitating this activity, we encourage you to support this tinkering mindset!
Facilitation Techniques to try with Scratch+micro:bit →
👯 Encourage peer learning—both on-site and online
Ask patrons to turn and share their code and micro:bit setup with their neighbors before you get involved. Point patrons to the online Scratch project gallery for ideas, where they can do a search on "microbit". Afterwards, be sure they share their creations with others online!
🎨 Encourage those new to Scratch to remix the code on the example projects you curate
Have at least one good example projects with easy-to-understand code that offers many ways to riff off a theme.
🥳 Recognize the victories in big ideas and small troubleshooting
Bridging the physical and digital is a messy proposition with many opportunities for mistakes. Celebrate the small victories in resilient troubleshooting, and that sometimes an idea is bigger than can happen in the time you have to work together.
🍱 If ideas are too big, find ways to make them smaller, yet still satisfying
We’re all used to pretty sophisticated games that have really complicated interactions with users. While Scratch has high ceilings, it does have its limitations. Often new programmers will start out with an ambitious plan, but many are just as happy to make something that contains some element of their vision.
🐭 Hands off the mouse and the micro:bit!
Let patrons figure out the tools. It’s really tempting to grab the mouse and drag the right blocks into place to accomplish a patron’s vision. However, the Scratch environment was designed to be accessible to novice users. Ask questions that will help your patrons find the right answers, without directly giving them the code. One reason to avoid sharing your own ideas is that there are many ways to get at the same result, and your way may not match their mental model. If the issue seems to be happening in the physical world with the micro:bit, guide patrons in troubleshooting their own technical issues.
🤖 Keep it simple, but open the door to more
Both Scratch and micro:bit were painstakingly designed to make more accessible whole domains of making that had much higher barriers to entry before these platforms came along. They have low floors, high ceilings, and wide walls. Nonetheless, you may have patrons who want to dive deeper into programming and microprocessors / sensors, and you'll want to open the metaphorical door in this big room. Have books on hand related to next steps: we recommend the No Starch Press books for different programming languages, and Getting Started with Arduino for those wanting a more extensible / powerful microprocessor.
Be sure to also check out our PLIX Facilitation Techniques Guide for additional techniques from the PLIX team to help you cultivate your own creative learning facilitation practice.
Scratch+micro:bit in Action
Check out these Scratch+micro:bit shares and remixes from PLIX community members, and add your own on the PLIX Discussion forum!
Making Musical Instruments with contributions by Melissa Sprenne (Richland Library Ballentine), Dave Fink (Michigan City Public Library), and the PLIX Team!
About PLIX Scratch+micro:bit
The PLIX Scratch+micro:bit activity was inspired by the work of one of our PLIX residency exchange teams. In 2018, Media Lab graduate student Kreg Hanning worked with Jordan Morris and Cecil Decker—two librarians from Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina—to create activities that introduced physical electronics as a medium for creative expression.
Other ways to engage with PLIX Scratch+micro:bit →
- Read more about how the PLIX team thinks about designing creative learning activities ✨
- Share your experience running programs with this kit on the PLIX Discussion Forum or on social media using #PLIXScratchMicrobit 😎
The Public Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX) is a project of the MIT Media Lab Digital Learning & Collaboration Studio. Except where otherwise noted, all materials on this site are licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license. Accessibility.