by Simona Dwass
Simona Dwass is the Makerspace Education Specialist at Fluxspace. She has a background in product design and is passionate about the benefits of hands-on learning and physical creation in the classroom.
March 24, 2022
We are so excited about Phidget’s new integration with MakeCode! MakeCode is Microsoft’s learn-to-code software, making it easy to introduce programming to beginners. MakeCode is block-based, so students can drag and drop colored blocks onto their workspace to program anything they want!
Phidgets are electronic blocks that allow you to easily sense and control your projects. You can buy Phidget blocks that sense light, sound, or humidity, and ones that control motors and LEDs. The most interesting thing about Phidgets is that while they are an incredible learning tool for electronics and circuitry, they are also used by industry leaders in robotics, engineering, and research. Their cheap cost and compatibility with multiple programming languages make them a great tool both in and out of the classroom.
I started off with the Build Your Kit tutorial. The instructions were super clear and easy to follow, and I thought it was especially cool that the whole kit got built into the box it came in. This introductory kit comes with two buttons, two LEDs, a humidity sensor, a VINT Hub Phidget block, and a USB cable which connects your Phidget assembly to your computer.
After building my kit I got started with block-coding. In the first lesson, I followed five simple steps to program my red LED to blink on and off. The tutorial navigation along the top of the screen includes instructions and hints, so that I could check my work every step of the way. As a very visual learner, I appreciate that each block is color coded – it made it super easy to follow the lesson and find all the blocks I needed. After learning to control the LEDs, I moved onto the next lesson, where I learned how to use buttons as my inputs. Each Phidget lesson introduces new code-blocks; as you go through the Getting Started lesson sequence you get to build your confidence using each block.
My favorite part of the Phidget integration with MakeCode is the two tutorials for games that they included. Both of the games have step-by-step programming tutorials, but they also include extra coding practice, in case you want to further explore and develop your skills.