"DoIT secondary school" #86

The DoIT workshops at the secondary school were centered around the theme of cycling. The students were asked to think about their bikes and how they would like to improve them in whatever way was important to them, be it safety, aesthetics, …

Independently of each other, two groups got the idea of making turn signals, so cars and other road users would more easily see their intentions and anticipate their maneuvers. The fact that two groups had the same idea initially caused some friction, as if they felt that in order for it to be worth working on something, the idea had to be unique and never been done before. It took a little while to convince them that the process of developing something you want to do, isn’t worth less just because someone else is going through the same development process - on the contrary! It only creates more opportunities to exchange experiences and learn from each other. 

Because they’d already had an introduction to micro:bit, both groups quickly saw the possibilities of using a micro:bit as the heart of their invention. Both prototypes were based on a cardboard tube to simulate a handlebar, with a battery-powered micro:bit fitted in the center and an LED-light on either end. Figuring out the code took some trial-and-error. The initial idea of using the internal accelerometer to “sense” the direction of the handlebar, unfortunately proved to be unworkable. Their alternative to work with the A- and B-buttons, however, worked very well. Then, while one group worked to make their design entirely waterproof (a very important feature in a rainy country such as Belgium!), the other group fine tuned the code so the LED-lights would blink a set number of times instead of having to push the button again to turn the lights off. Thus, although both groups started off with the same idea, each group took their own approach and ended up with a prototype that was uniquely their own!