Engineering Solutions – Bringing design and coding to life

Published 2nd August 2019

Teachers and Year 5 and 6 pupils from 10 primary schools and 5 secondary schools within the Stoke on Trent area have been working on a 5-week design and technology project learning how to program a micro:bit and then develop their own designs incorporating micro:bit technology.

Pupils designed micro:pets, pedometers, watches and micro:bots and then programmed them using MakeCode to carry out different tasks from smiling, to blinking or displaying words.

The project concluded with a showcase event held at the Co-operative Academy that was attended by 40 pupils, 5 teachers and 35 parents. This event involved pupils presenting their ideas, designs and prototypes to other schools. Each school presented confidently and clearly, and parents were really impressed not only by what their children had achieved but at the levels of enthusiasm shown.

The project was funded by the Engineering Education Grant Scheme EEGS and supported by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Feedback from pupils and teachers was extremely positive with 77% of pupils stating that they would like to be involved in another programming project in the future. Pupils said that the project was fun, and it taught them to “keep trying hard no matter what, and never give up.”

Mr Rowley from St Nathaniel’s said that “since we have been doing the micro:bit project the pupils have definitely been more creative, they have been more logical in their thinking and clearly enjoyed the project, it’s really hands on and they have enjoyed problem solving. They have liked the teamwork aspect of the work, which has been really good as they’ve all been communicating. It’s been brill.”

Drew Wicken from Co-operative Academy Stoke on Trent commented that “the key thing for me was building links with the primary school’s that weren’t necessarily there to start with. We had links with some schools, but with others we had very little connection. To be able to take that link and build it to a point where they can ask us for support with D&T curriculum is huge, and they now know that they can come to us to ask for support and guidance.”

 “When going out to the primary schools, it’s interesting to see what their current set up is and where they need support and that is the real benefit for me. When the pupils come to us in Year 7 we can work with the primaries to make sure that they actually have a good solid foundation of what D&T is and hopefully going forward with these links then we should be able to have a much stronger cohort of pupils coming through.”

One of the parents shared their views at our showcase event “our daughter a pupil at St Wilfrids Catholic Academy, has been really excited about the event. She has been coming home daily telling us about working with micro:bits. When she came home with her project, I was amazed at what she had learnt and how well she had done it.

She coded her micro:bit to have a smiley and sad face and made a goldfish out of coloured paper.

When we were young, we didn’t learn these things in primary school so it’s really good to see their imagination stretched so early on.

We felt very proud to see our daughter presenting her project at the event with her classmates and hope to attend many more events like this.”

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