Bringing maker education and computational thinking to the classroom.
Illustrating Life Cycles with the micro:bit
It is targeted for grade 7, but could work for grades 5 to 8.
300 minutes (5 class periods of 60 minutes each)
Crafting materials - paper, glue, tape
Using the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit for micro:bit, students create a model of a plant or animal that demonstrates, through interactive electronic elements, how environmental or genetic factors can influence the growth of the organism. Students collect evidence to inform how their interactive elements will work.
Life cycle, micro:bit, biology, STEM, genetics, environmental science
Prerequisite Knowledge: [(optional) What do students need to know to be successful in this activity]
Students will be able to...
Introduction / Motivation:
Depending on your students experience level with programming and use of the micro:bit you may want to spend a class period or two exploring the micro:bit and MakeCode in an “Hour of Code” format. It is highly recommended to do this in a series of steps leading up to the project.
Today we’re going to explore how environmental factors affect the life cycle of a plant or animal. There are many things in a plant or animal’s environment that can affect it’s life, so for this project, I just want you to identify and focus on 2-3 factors that you can demonstrate.
Once you have selected your plant or animal, you will do research into what environmental changes (positive or negative) impact its life cycle..
To get you started, here is an example I created:
I focused on the life cycle of the monarch butterfly for this example. There are many environmental factors that can influence the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. In my example, I show how the maturity of the milkweed plant that monarch caterpillars eat influences the size of the adult monarch butterfly by pressing images of young and mature milkweed that I’ve added to the buttons on the micro:bit. When the young milkweed is pressed, a servo motor with images of a large and small butterfly rotates. The smaller butterfly should be on top because monarch larvae that eat younger milkweed plants are often smaller than larvae that eat more mature milkweed plants. When the mature milkweed button is pressed, the larger butterfly rotates to the top.
I show how temperature influences the development of the monarch butterfly by using the temperature sensor on the micro:bit to change the color of a tricolor LED. When the temperature is in a good range the light is green, if it’s too hot for the monarch butterfly to complete its life cycle the light turns red, if it’s too cold the light turns blue.
In this video I’m using touch to warm up the micro:bit in order to get it to change colors.
Before the Activity
With the StudentsStep 1
Have students brainstorm creative ways to communicate the information learned about the growth and development of an organism.
Ask students to create a plan for their model in the form of a sketch as well as a program flow chart.
Give students time to assemble the project.
Consider having students share their final project with peers, gather feedback, and iterate!
Arrange a gallery walk so that students can interact with and learn from other student’s projects. Encourage students to reflect on the projects and to give each other constructive feedback. Challenge students to incorporate one suggestion from their feedback into their models.
Servo doesn’t work correctly…
The servo is slightly under-powered when used with the micro:bit. Try attaching your battery pack to the micro:bit, but the best way to use the servo is to use it with the Gator:bit
Program doesn’t work as planned…
Make sure that you have your most current program downloaded to your micro:bit
You may have a short circuit somewhere in your project! Systematically disconnect wires from the micro:bit until everything turns back on. You may need to use a different USB port on your computer until the computer is restarted.
Could you challenge students to create devices to counteract the environmental impacts they have illustrated?
Could you challenge your students to use the micro:bit and their hardware available to go and measure the environmental impact they have illustrated somewhere on the school grounds?