Recent research showing that almost 90% of BBC micro:bit recipients believe the devices prove “coding isn’t as difficult as they thought it was” will have deservedly cheered BBC bosses.
The BBC and its partners have put a lot of effort into opening up the world of programming, not only by funding a free device for every year 7 pupil but also by getting the devices into retailers at a wallet friendly £12.99, providing free access to coding resources and by offering easy add-on experiment and project kits such as the inventors kit and a choice of micro:bit controlled buggies.
The newest of these is the £27 :MOVE mini buggy kit from Kitronik which I’ve been having fun with for the past week or so.
Inside the box are the parts you’ll need to turn your micro:bit (not included) into a fully functioning rover. As mine came pre-assembled I took it apart and put it back together again so that I can honestly promise you building it is a doddle.
A few screws are all that’s needed to connect the parts together and add a battery pack and an LED light strip to the micro:bit.
To complete its transformation into a vehicle you’ll need some code which Kitronik helpfully makes available, alongside some guides and tutorials, on its website.
Depending on your coding choices it’s possible to make the device fully autonomous or control it via Bluetooth with an Android smartphone or iPhone app, or a second micro:bit which you can programme to work as a remote control.
The LED strip and the micro:bit’s own LED display can also be independently coded, for example you could use the strip to indicate when the :MOVE is reversing and the display to show the direction of travel with an arrow.
I found the completed :MOVE mini buggy a lot of fun to play with and for those building and coding it from scratch it’s going to be very rewarding to see it zoom across a floor or table top.
If you’ve read my earlier pieces on the micro:bit you’ll know the project genuinely excites me and this is also true of Kitronik’s growing range of add-ons which ensure learning how to code is fun.
And here the firm has delivered another winner at a family friendly price.
A standard, pre-programmed remote controlled car will cost you around £15 from Amazon or Argos, for not much more cash you can buy a toy which is just as enjoyable but also teaches how and why it works and can be developed and enhanced as the owner’s coding skills develop.
Even if you don’t already own a micro:bit, the cost of adding one to your order still brings the whole basket in at just £40 and provides far more satisfaction than a standard off the shelf toy.
If you’re looking for a worthy Birthday or Christmas present – to give or receive! – this could well be it.