Our classroom glows with activity. One kid drafts a how-to article in which he explains the steps involved in wiring a cardboard Minecraft controller. Another writes a branching-path, choose-your-own-adventure story in Twine, a free, downloadable interactive fiction app. A student who’s claimed throughout his middle-school career that he isn’t a writer leans close to his laptop screen, finding and fixing coding errors. He composes, compiles, and debugs more than 100 lines of code to light up a three-by-three-light LED display plugged into his laptop.
A pair of especially curious students sits huddled around our newest computer, an exposed-faced circuit board smaller than a paperback book. It’s called a Raspberry Pi. They’re watching how the code they write in one window changes the course of a game in another. They may not know it yet, but these kids are playing with an open-source computing platform that just might change the way we teach young people how to interact with computers.
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.