What would you say if I told you that the BBC made a computer? Well, that’s exactly what they did with the BBC Micro:bit. It’s a single board microcontroller, which can be used to teach anyone, especially children, to code and create their own devices. These devices allow a variety of tasks to be carried out, and teaching people the use of these devices is what the STEMUP Educational Foundation does.
STEMUP Educational Foundation is a non-profit organisation that offers a bounty of educational resources, especially related to Micro:bit and other devices, free of charge.
The primary initiative of STEMUP is to encourage students to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) educational programs (such as degrees) and from there, to STEM-based careers.
What ties both the Micro:bit and STEMUP Education Foundation is the Micro:bit SLUG. Born in 2016, the Micro:bit Sri Lanka User Group, is the brainchild of Prabhath Mannapperuma.
When the Micro:bit was initially unveiled, Prabhath immediately knew that this device would be the catalyst needed to bring about a revolutionary new method of teaching kids to code and build their own devices.
He then contacted the Micro:bit Foundation and through unrelenting determination secured support from the Micro:bit foundation for both devices and learning materials.
Together with Indika Dalugama and Avishka Laknath, Prabhath carried out the first Micro:bit session to the children of Nisala Nenasala in Udubaddawa. Since then the SLUG team has carried out over 100 sessions and introduced over 20,000 students to STEM-based educational programs. Today, the Micro:bit SLUG has grown into its own community where members can learn, share and grow so that anyone can use a Micro:bit to create anything.
The new Micro:bit still retains most of the original hardware from its predecessor, but also brings a number of new features to the table. For example, you still get 25 programmable LEDs in a 5x5 grid, but you can now communicate with your Micro:bit via Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The new Micro:bit also adds an on/off switch. Simply press the button to power on the devices and press and hold to switch it off. Additionally, the device packs a MEMS microphone and LED indicator, an onboard speaker, an LED Power indicator as well as a touch-sensitive logo pin. This allows you to use the logo as an input.
The Micro:bit V2 was officially launched in Sri Lanka on 18 October. Taking place during a special virtual event titled ‘Micro:bit in Sri Lanka – Past and Future’, the Micro:bit V2, and all its new features were unveiled so that users could see exactly how the new features could benefit their devices and apps. At the launch, STEMUP Educational Foundation Founder/Director Prabhath Mannapperuma shared that “Micro:bit is the most famous microcontroller, which is inspiring millions of kids around the globe.
This is the first major update it has received since its launch in 2016. STEMUP Educational Foundation will continue to empower Sri Lankan kids to achieve more with this amazing pocket size computer”.