Winning an award for creating a digital dictionary while he was still in school has inspired Prabhath Mannapperuma to foster a legion of budding young programmers in remote corners of Sri Lanka.
Mannapperuma, 24, heads a team of volunteers who fan out all over the country – firing up students with the Micro:bit, a tiny programmable device, and the message that writing computer code is no arcane art but within the reach of inquisitive fingers and curious minds.
“Kids come up with new solutions for their day-to-day problems. Having the required computational thinking is vital for their future,” says Mannapperuma, an IT professional and self-styled tech-evangelist.
Microbit’s appealing block-based programming designed to familiarise youngsters with coding and interconnectivity spurred Mannapperuma to introduce it in his country.
He approached the UK-based Micro:bit Education Foundation a year ago with his idea of encouraging schoolchildren outside the more privileged urban areas to learn coding skills.
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, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, 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.