This past summer at ISTE, I was able to get my hands on a few Circuit Playground Express base kits through Microsoft’s MakeCode initiative. The circuit playground express, a microcontroller created by Adafruit, serves as a pretty solid introduction to electronics and programming that can be coded with Microsoft’s makecode, CircuitPython or the Arduino IDE.
I knew that this fall we would have an opportunity to introduce physical computing and programming through a dedicated program in elementary (3–5) that my department teaches with a focus on technology but I wasn’t quite sold yet on the CPX being the tool of choice especially when we could have easily introduced physical computing through our Raspberry Pis.
After spending quite a bit of time immersing myself into research by tinkering with the support of Adafruit’s extensive learning library, it occurred to me that if the end goal is not just our small group of (120) kids tinkering but entire grade levels, we needed to model an entry point that was purposefully aligned to our learning standards as well as accessible to any level learner, including teachers.
We also needed to make it visible.
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.