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First look at the Microbit

By Zan posted Tuesday 24th May 2016

Now that most schools have their microbits, its a good time to take a look at the microbit software and see if its been worth the wait.

We’re starting with the Code Kingdoms drag and drop editor, and as we’re new to this let's start with a tutorial.

So here’s the first screen we get, there is no explanation or indication as to what the first tutorial is, unless I missed something…

First screen after selecting tutorial…what are we making?

Ok, a closer look and I see the script is called Curious Script (What??). The first instruction is: Add an onShake event and the explanation: add a new onShake event.

(If anyone reading this is at all familiar with code and useful vs pointless comments, maybe you find this as funny as I do.)

So looking at this from the average 12 year old’s point of view, most likely has some experience of scratch, what on earth is an onShake event? We can deduce that it is something to do with the microbit being shaken, but the point is anyone new to programming doesn’t use words like onShake and event. These terms should be introduced later on.

So how do we add an onShake event?

If you look closely you realise that the orange box is actually pulsating and not just part of the colour scheme - clearly an arrow was too much effort.

So, lets click…

Methods and functions are the same thing. But in Object Oriented programming usually just called methods...

And we get ‘Name your method’. Not entirely sure how many year 7s will know what a method is but the word method should have been used consistently here instead of interchangeably with function.

After a bit of random clicking and searching I’ve found the microbit.say for the next part, I won’t bore you with too many details but wanted to point out that after clicking the instruction box for tips I can’t actually see the random function that I’m meant to edit!

So on entering 1 and 6 for the random function, I get this screen:

Wohoo... we now have a phenonemal script after adding one function/method!

Oh, that’s what it is…and the script is now called phenomenal script…seriously? adding one predefined method makes this script phenomenal? 


Summary:

One of the weirdest tutorials I’ve ever done

Good points: 

Well it works


Bad points: 

Confusing interface and symbols

Not great for newbies or the average 12 year old


This is of course a first look, we will be digging deeper, but not a great start. 


We will shortly take a look at the microsoft block editor which looks a bit more promising.


Update: I did find that clicking the bottom icon on the left handside, the one that looks like a checklist, lists all the steps in the tutorial and it is called Roll the Dice - why not have that as the script name??

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