20 girls from four primary schools across Cornwall learned to code the brand-new micro:bit v2 devices - with more workshops to come in January.
TECgirls has held a three-day series of virtual coding workshops for primary-age girls and teachers across Cornwall – with huge success!
We’re planning to hold more workshops starting in January, so if you’re a primary teacher with an interest in STEAM and would like to take part, you can find out how at the end of this post.
Learning to code the fun way
These cool miniature devices are packed with sensors and LEDs and can be used for all kinds of creative digital projects – including sensing and responding to sounds, creating light displays, and even controlling robots.
They’re designed for educational settings and are a really fun and exciting way for young kids to learn to code.
About the workshops
The idea behind the workshops is to work with schools across Cornwall to provide additional computing education support while also helping girls to grow their confidence in computing.
Our workshops consisted of three 1-hour sessions conducted over Zoom:
Session 1 – Meet your micro:bit/Decision maker: Learn how to use the micro:bit and send it your first bits of code. The lesson focuses around creating a decision-maker on the micro:bit, and using its LED lights to send messages. Session 2 – Extend your knowledge/Light reader: A slightly more advanced project looking at how the micro:bit can be used to gather data. Perfect for joined-up STEM lessons. The lesson shows how to set up the micro:bit to read the light levels in the room and get the data back to the computer. Perfect for building your own eco light use monitor.
Session 3 – Using the micro:bit v2/Holiday lights: Looking at the new features available on the micro:bit v2, and using them to create a holiday light display. The girls programmed the micro:bits to play Jingle Bells and display an LED snowflake animation. The most fun part was trying to write the song in code – a bit like playing musical notes!
Schools from across Cornwall take part
Our first series of workshops saw 20 girls and teachers from Years 4-6 taking part, from four schools:
Archbishop Benson CofE Primary (Truro)
Lanivet Community Primary
St Stephens Community Primary (Saltash)
Alongside TECgirls founder Caitlin Gould, the workshops were hosted by Robert Wiltshire from Software Cornwall, and Mark Williams from the Micro:bit Educational Foundation. We’re really grateful to Robert and Mark for being so generous with their time.
Positive feedback from girls and parents
Eight-year old Dorothy, a Year 4 pupil at Lanivet Primary, said:
“I was excited to use a micro:bit for the first time but nervous about whether it would be good or bad. It was good. I enjoyed trying something new at every session and being allowed to experiment.”
“I was excited to use a micro:bit for the first time but nervous about whether it would be good or bad. It was good." - Dorothy (8), Lanivet School
Dorothy's mum Kirstie added:
"I was very pleased that Dorothy was asked to take part. I’m keen that my daughter has the opportunity to embrace as many positive STEM experiences as possible. It’s fantastic that coding is introduced to children as an integral part of primary education, they learn early doors that technology is fun and not something to be intimidated by."
"We had not used micro:bits before, but they were very simple to set up and there’s lots of resources parents can use at home on the website."
TECgirls founder Caitlin Gould said:
“It was wonderful to see the girls and the teachers get stuck in with the projects from day 1. They all got to learn how to code and program the hardware together. You could tell the girls were having a great time when they got their micro:bits working and they were dancing along to the music they had programmed in.”
“The workshops showed both the girls and their teachers how much fun coding can be, with lots of project ideas that really captured their imagination. My favourite part was when they used their learning and then started to create their own ideas and projects. That’s when you can tell you’ve really engaged them and helped them see what is possible.”
Inspiring girls to learn important skills for future careers
TECgirls was founded to inspire more girls in Cornwall to explore tech, engineering and digital creativity, and these workshops are just one way we’re doing that.
We know from 2019 data that far fewer girls in Cornwall take computing at GCSE and A level than the national average. With more and more jobs requiring tech skills, that’s putting them at a disadvantage.
The workshops help girls to become micro:bit and coding mentors, enabling them to show themselves and their peers that girls are great at computing. That confidence will hopefully make a positive and lasting impact on their belief in their own STEM abilities and their aspirations for future jobs.
Just 2 places left for our January workshops – sign up quick!
We’re now busy planning our next workshops, to be held from 26-28 January via Zoom from 4pm-5pm. Each school can pick 3-8 girls to join the session, and girls can join from home or from school with their teachers.
We already have two schools signed up, so there’s only space for two more – so email us asap at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re a primary teacher in Cornwall and you’d like to take part.
There will be further sessions throughout 2021, so get in touch even if you aren’t able to make the January one, and we’ll add you to the waiting list. You can contact us on email@example.com.
Notes for interested teachers
You don’t need to have micro:bits already, as we’re working with Cornwall Council and Software Cornwall to provide them. We’ll also help you set everything up and will guide you through using the micro:bit and the micro:bit editor.
The coding part is actually very similar to Scratch, with block-based coding. So, if the girls have done a bit of Scratch before they should pick it up very quickly. The girls and teachers will need access to a computer with a USB port. A webcam is nice but isn’t necessary.