Micro:bit Watches with Linkhorne MS

This Fall myself and Adam Hughes lead two projects with students from Linkhorne Middle School. Each group met at Vector Space for two hours once per week, for the entirety of the semester. On Wednesday our students turned to computer programming and microcontrollers to make their daily lives easier and more efficient.

Using the BBC Micro:bit, each student programmed a watch (or other object) to their liking. The micro:bit is a microcontroller half the size of a credit card, with a 16 pixel LED grid, accelerometer, light sensor, compass, wifi, and blutooth capabilities. Each is powered by two AAA batteries or via USB cable. The programming is done quickly and easily with Blocks, a browser- and app-based JavaScript drag and drop coding tool. An extensive project library and thurough documentation make this an excellent tool for education and beginning programmers. 

While the initial focus of the project was making smart watches, a few students discovered other uses for the micro:bit and went different routes. One student created a guitar, which used the built in light sensor to control musical notes played. Sound was played through headphones or computer speakers, which were connected to one of the micro:bit's four digital/analog input/output rings. Students that did make watches added unique functions like games (rock, paper, scissors was popular), a compass, and personalization with scrolling text. 

In addition to programming, students used hand tools, sewing machines, leather punches, and more to create watch bands. They chose leather and fabric pieces that they again personalized; each student determined how to attach their micro:bit and battery holder to the band, and used snaps or other attachments to close the band. Check out the slideshow below for images of the students working on thier projects.