Farnell element14, the Development Distributor, is helping to create the next generation of digital engineers by providing kits and support to help youngsters to learn the fundamental skills of coding.
The company offers one of the widest range of educational aids targeted at tomorrow’s coders and application developers including products such as Codebug, BBC micro:bit, Raspberry PI and the newly launched Arduino CTC101 classroom kit.
“Digitally based industries across the globe face an ongoing skills shortage in coding. This has led to an increase in the development of educational programmes that provide children with access to coding skills through hands-on learning, helping tackle these challenges for the future”, says Peter Wenzel, Global Head of Software and Single Board Computing for Premier Farnell and Farnell element14: “At Farnell element14, the combination of our exclusively manufactured boards such as the BBC micro:bit and Codebug, and successful manufacturing partnerships with other suppliers including Raspberry Pi and BeagleBoard, mean that we can offer one of the most comprehensive ranges of educational boards on the market.”
“Physical computing provides real solutions for engaging the younger generation in technology, giving them the opportunity to design and create physical devices that they can use in their day to day lives, whilst learning important skills”, adds Jonathan Smith, Head of Education at Premier Farnell: “Problem solving and computational thinking are key skills that our children will need when they leave education. This is where physical computing, including learning to code with devices such as CodeBug and the BBC micro:bit, can help in the teaching process.”
Key products suitable for coding education at different ages are:
• Codebug is a small coding device for students age 7+. Shaped like a ladybird, CodeBug provides a fun and engaging way to build interactive devices. The device incorporates 25 LED lights, 2 control buttons, and 6 ‘legs’ which can be used to connect croc-clips, banana plugs or even sewn to. Ideas to get started with the Codebug can be found on the element14 community at https://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-78413/l/10-codebug-projects-in-10-days
• The BBC micro:bit was developed to teach students from age 11+. Measuring 4cm by 5cm, it is available in a range of colours and designed to be fun and easy to use. Similar to the Codebug, it can be coded with no prior knowledge of computing although has more extensive functionality such as motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth technology to test young coders as they develop their skills, exposing them to technology which existing in the world around them. Ideas to get started with the BBC micro:bit can be found on the element14 community at https://www.element14.com/community/community/stem-academy/microbit/blog/2016/05/26/10-bbc-microbit-projects-in-ten-days.
• Farnell element14 has also recently launched several add-ons for the BBC micro:bit that help to build fun and support into learning to code. These include the mi:node, which is designed to teach youngsters the basics of IoT mechanics as interconnectivity becomes part of their everyday lives, and the MBIT-WEARIT- Development Kit, a versatile micro:bit enclosure specially designed to build mobile applications that can be used with a wrist strap, keyring or lanyard.
• Within Arduino’s wide range of education products stocked by Farnell element14 is the Arduino CTC101 classroom kit: a modular program aimed at teaching students, aged 13 to 17 years, the foundations of programming, electronics, and mechanics through a series of playful, well-documented projects and easy-to-assemble experiments.
“At Farnell element14 we’re passionate about supporting engineering and electronics in education”, continues Peter Wenzel: ”We’re not alone though – the world’s leading technology companies such as Microsoft, Google and Samsung are also working to address an industry-wide challenge to develop more electronics engineers by creating content, courses and platforms built around the products we manufacture and supply. The range of boards and ancillary products available from Farnell element14 is backed up by guidance and support through online resources available from the STEM Academy and the widely used element14 Community which has over 500,000 members and is the largest forum of its kind in the engineering, student and maker community.”