From Zero Code to Python Code

by Nicole Parrot

community and culture fun education micropython 10 minutes

Teaching computational thinking in the classroom is a challenge as there's a wide range of skills, including the teacher's. The Gigglebot is a microbit rover that covers the steps from no coding to Python coding through a variety of approaches so that no one in the classroom gets left behind.

Teaching kids to code can be challenging, especially in a classroom environment. Some are good typists because they come from tech savvy families, and some have only ever swiped their iPhone screens, while others have no tech at home. Competitive robotics can be scary for some, while non-competitive robotics usually get their interest. Bringing non-competitive robotics into the classroom opens up coding to all, but textual code can be daunting.

The Gigglebot is a Micro:Bit based rover that covers the transition from zero code to Python code, by offering first a block based interface with MakeCode, then a Python-based interface Edublocks, then an editor with hand-holding tutorials Firia Labs, and finally a beginner friendly Python editor Mu editor when the kids are ready to handle Python.

This approach allows for the greatest flexibility in the classroom where kids can be found with different levels of tech expertise. Projects can be done in any and all of those tools, thus leveling the playing field, and letting everyone develop their computational thinking and problem solving skills.

About the Author

Nicole has a varied background, with over a decade of C/C++ development, 15 years of homeschooling and teaching kids in school and after school programs, and now a Raspberry Pi specialist working with Dexter Industries and using Python to develop products for school robotics. My main goal is to integrate programming and robotics inside the normal curriculum and not as a competition-oriented afterschool program. Every child should have a chance to see if she likes this field and the best way to reach everyone is to make it a part of the normal curriculum. With that in mind, I have been the main developer of Bloxter, a simple drag and drop language based on Blockly, that allows kids to get started quickly with the GoPiGo3 and teachers to integrate robotics in their regular classes.

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