Written by volunteer writer Amy Freeman
Sometimes, technology can be straight-up fun! That’s what the girls who attended the “Make an Animated Bracelet with Micro:bit” TechShop in North Carolina learned.
Emily Hardin, a product manager with a startup SaaS company, was a TA during the TechShop. The focus of the workshop was on micro:bits, tiny computers that are powered by an ARM microcontroller. The computers have LED outputs on a printed circuit board. The TechShop introduced the girls to the micro:bit and showed them how to program the computer.
It was Emily’s first time assisting for the TechShop topic and her first time working with micro:bit.
Luckily, she was able to get plenty of practice in before the day of the program. She bought micro:bits for herself and her two daughters, ages 6 and 9. Her daughters got to serve as “guinea pigs” for the course: The three of them worked together to learn how to program the computers.
They made their own necklaces, which attach to the micro:bit. Emily’s micro:bit necklace spelled out her name in flashing LEDs. To give the girls at the workshop an idea of what they could do with the platform, she wore her personalized necklace to the TechShop.
She recommends that anyone else who’s interested in teaching the micro:bit TechShop purchase a few of the devices in advance and play around with them at home. That way, future instructors can “focus on creating an environment [during the workshop] where girls can push the limits of what’s possible.”
One of the things Emily liked most about volunteering at the TechShop was watching the girls learn how to troubleshoot and solve problems when things didn’t go as planned, as that’s a “daily occurrence in the tech world.”
The workshop wrapped up with the girls learning how to program the computers to send messages back and forth. Emily thought it was fun to watch the girls come up with messages to share with each other using their micro:bits and to watch them work together to make their micro:bits communicate.
Reflecting on the program, Emily says: “I think that I got as much from the workshop as the girls did, as it’s so easy to set up limits, and the girls got so much farther than I thought was possible in such a short amount of time!
For anyone who’s thinking about volunteering with TechGirlz, she encourages you to jump in and get started! You can sign up to be a volunteer here.