Happy new year everyone!
First post for me to this group... here's hoping it's a good one. ;-)
We're getting close to a version 1.0 of MicroPython for the BBC's micro:bit device (a small programmable device that'll be given out to the UK's 11 year olds later this year - that's around 1 million devices). You can learn more about the project here:
Damien George (the creator of MicroPython) has really delivered on this and demonstrated what a gifted developer he is. We've also been lucky to have help from a small band of talented developers who have contributed some really great work.
But that's not all!
Over the autumn I visited lots of UK based Python user groups and teacher led events (mainly CAS related) to show people the work that has been done so far and so we can get feedback from teachers.
The bottom line is that we need a *simple* and easy to set-up editor that exposes MicroPython in the best possible way (while the official web-based "TouchDevelop" is great, it doesn't allow you to automatically flash the device, doesn't include a REPL connection for live coding and requires that you're always connected to the internet). Since December I've been working on an alternative solution, called "Mu". It's almost feature complete while still being a work in progress. Check out this video for the current state of affairs:
We need testers for this! If you're a teacher, programmer or developer I'd love to hear from you for help, feedback and bug reporting. You'll get to use the editor and I'll "loan" you a micro:bit (although there will be some caveats that apply because of BBC bureaucracy). If you're interested drop me a line. It's definitely a work in progress, but progress is fast.
My autumnal research demonstrated that we also needed resources. To this end I've been running the micro-world-tour ~ an international community of Python developers have been building and sharing cool stuff that uses MicroPython on the micro:bit. Have a read here, I especially love the robots: http://microworldtour.github.io/
We also realised that teachers, developers and kids will need some easy way to share micro:bit output. With the help of the amazingly talented designer, Steve Hawkes I've done two things:
- A very Wallace and Grommit "micro:bit-o-matic" hosted here:
- We also had a batshit crazy idea to create a fun user-generated
PyComic that can be included in educational resources.
We want our resources to appeal to the 11yo target age group. So those with more of an affinity with visual rather than verbal instructions are catered for, we've decided to create some of our resources as comics.
Our comics will feature "Yellow" and "Blue", the Python snakes..! (Yes, we've had approval from the PSF's trademark committee to use the modified snakes).
Check out a proof of concept here (apologies to Guido - but it's such a lovely photograph):
Notice how the comic is specified in the URL (it's a static website so there's no backend and state is stored in the query string). You're probably asking, "that's a bit of a long URL isn't it?" to which I'd reply http://bit.ly/ have an API I'm going to use. Again, another work in progress... ;-)
I'm waiting on some design work from Steve before releasing the "editor" that'll allow you to create your own comics in a simple and easy to share way. It's important to note that these comics are not micro:bit specific - they could be used for any Python related resource and for comedic effect.
Finally, we need teacher and student focussed resources (i.e. lesson plans and kid friendly how-tos). We already have developer documentation as a work in progress here: http://microbit-micropython.readthedocs.org/en/latest/ If anyone is interested in helping create these resources I'd love to hear from you. We have plans afoot to help you generate such things in, once again, an easy to create and share manner.
As always, comments, constructive critique and ideas are most welcome!