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Scratch+micro:bit

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Welcome to PLIX Scratch+micro:bit! Combine storytelling, coding, and making and bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds.

🥰 Ages 8+ 🕐 1.5–2 Hours 👩‍👧‍👦 up to 8 Participants 🍎 1–2 Facilitators 🎨 Craft Materials 📟 Micro:bit 🐱 Scratch Coding 💻 Computer

This activity is 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.

Workshop Prompts & Gallery

A simple cardboard instrument in action. This project uses the micro:bit pins and the Scratch “When pin connected” block. (This project has sound too!)
Tapping the succulent makes the on-screen bug move!
Tapping the succulent makes the on-screen bug move!
Fight evil with mustard! (Superhero: Captain Condiment!)
Fight evil with mustard! (Superhero: Captain Condiment!)

Prompts from PLIX

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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.
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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!)
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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.
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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.

PLIX Community Remixes

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Scratch Sensing remix without a micro:bit: When micro:bits are in short supply, you have a few other options for connecting the physical and digital worlds!
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Making Musical Instruments with contributions by Melissa Sprenne (Richland Library Ballentine), Dave Fink (Michigan City Public Library), and the PLIX Team!
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Check out more examples and experiences from other librarians on the PLIX Forum Scratch+micro:bit space

Materials

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Supply Kit

Printed & assembed Sensing with Scratch+micro:bit zines (one per participant)
Scratch Coding Cards at least one set printed for the group to share (or buy a set)
Alligator test leads 2–3 per small group
Laptops/Chromebooks with Bluetooth
Scratch account 1 per participant, and/or one shared one for newbies to be able to use without setting one up
A collection of dollar store objects or anything you have lying around!
Tape, rubber bands, and/or pipe cleaners (for attaching Micro:bits to objects)
Several creative project examples

Zine

Download ↓

PLIX-Scratch+microbit-Zine_v1.0.pdf1824.6KB
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PLIX zines are a supplementary resource for patrons and librarians to refer to. Use this guide to cut and assemble them on 8.5x11" paper.

Facilitation

Playtest and Plan

Remember: There’s no one right way to prepare for a workshop. Use these steps as a loose guideline for planning to run this activity.

  1. Choose one of our prompts, or come up with a prompt that suits your library community. Our activity guides are for getting you started—feel free to change or create new design elements to suit your local community! All PLIX activity guides are designed for a minimum of 1–2 facilitators
  2. Gather materials and print out the zine.
  3. Make an example project. Try it out with friends and colleagues. Thoughtfully incomplete, good examples feature a variety of approaches and starting points. Use them to inspire learners to make something uniquely their own.
  4. 💡
    How-To: Make Examples for Scratch+micro:bit 👾
  5. Try the activity with your patrons. Set a date and time. Easily promote your workshop with our ready-made graphics → COMING SOON!
  6. Populate your workshop space with diverse example projects. Create and play together!
  7. Reflect on what you’ve done and consider doing a remix!
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Share the love—Did you come up with your own prompt? We’d love to hear from you! Share your ideas on the PLIX Forum or via our PLIX Remix report form.
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Learn more about the art of the example in our PLIX Guide to Making Activity Examples

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. 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.

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Facilitation Tips

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! In addition, check out our general PLIX Facilitation Techniques

👯 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.

What We ❤️ About This activity

🌐 Bridging the physical and digital worlds By combining Scratch with micro:bits, participants are encouraged to tinker both on-screen and off-screen, while inventing new ways for these two worlds to interact.

⚡ Offers a playful approach to learning about electronics With workshop prompts that encourage storytelling and invention, this activity is designed to invite learners of all backgrounds into tinkering with coding and electronics.

👨‍👧‍👦 Collaborative opportunities This activity works great for small groups of 2–3 participants working together to make a project!

♾️ Endless possibilities The materials for this activity can be used over and over again to support creative workshops that explore storytelling, enchanted objects, motion, sensing, and more!

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Dive deeper into creative learning facilitation with our Self-Guided Mini Course. It’ll also help you get started running your first PLIX workshop.

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

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