The 2023 High School Tech Immersion Program proved to be highly successful, attracting 350 applicants for the limited 40 internship positions available with local tech companies. Recognizing the immense interest among students, techNL devised a subsidiary initiative called the Micro:bit Program for those who were unable to secure a work placement. Students in this program were provided with a free BBC Micro:bit V2 Kit (a $30 value) and offered free virtual training on coding skills. The program intended to provide youth with access to hands-on learning and skill development in an area of technology that is applicable to a wide variety of career pathways. We know that students across the province do not generally have access to devices like Micro:bits, unless their school owns the devices, in which case their access is limited to class time. By providing devices to students independently, they can use them and learn at their own pace.
Throughout the fall techNL connected with 125 students in nine regions of the province and provided them with the free device. The first cohort included students who applied to the High School Tech Immersion Program but had not received a work placement. Later in December techNL added five new schools/clubs to its micro bit cohort: Se’t A’newey Kina’matino’kuom – Saint Anne’s School in Conne River, The Boys and Girls club in St. Anthony, Valmont Academy in King’s Point, St. Mary’s All Grade School in Mary’s Harbour, Labrador, E.G Lambert School in Churchill Falls, and Sheshatshiu Innu School in Sheshatshiu. Within these communities 75 students received a micro:bit along with a training session on how to begin their coding education.
What is a micro:bit?
A micro:bit is much more than just a device, it’s a gateway to a world of endless possibilities in coding and experimentation for young coding enthusiasts. A micro:bit is a small, programmable computer designed to make learning and teaching coding accessible and fun. It is about the size of your palm and was developed by the BBC in the United Kingdom as part of the BBC’s Make It Digital campaign to encourage young people to get involved in coding and digital technologies. The Micro:bit has been heralded as a learning device that is accessible for beginner coders and has the capability to teach advanced coding to more experienced students. More about the device can be found here.
Collaboration with Brilliant Labs
techNL partnered with Brilliant Labs to organize virtual training sessions designed to educate students about the applications of the Micro:bit and their uses in the student’s coding education. Brilliant Labs is an Atlantic Canadian-based charity. They are a hands-on, experiential learning platform providing youth with opportunities to develop coding and digital skills. Learn more about Brilliant Labs here.
To date, we have facilitated six one-hour sessions offered during class and during the evenings to accommodate various schedules. Wylie Butler from Brilliant Labs has served as the lead instructor, guiding the training sessions with a balance of independent work and synchronous coding lessons to maintain a well-rounded learning experience. Three of the sessions in October were offered sequentially so that students could join as beginner, intermediate, and experienced, while the other three were best suited for beginners.
Wylie Butler from Brilliant Labs instructing students to code a thermostat project.
The program was pleased to welcome Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of local tech company Mysa, Zachary Green to one of our virtual sessions. Zachary shared the story of how Mysa came to be, sharing that the prototype for their first thermostat was coded on a Raspberry Pi, a device like a Micro:bit. Students learned about the tech featured on Mysa’s thermostats and asked questions about day-to-day life as a tech entrepreneur. Students were inspired by the company’s story and their commitment to saving energy and reducing carbon emissions. Thanks to Zachary for attending the session!
“I have learned how to code a microbit to effectively follow the sequence of code written, and how to sort through it and debug it. Specifically, I learned how to use the motion sensors on the microbit to react to light and temperature. I also learned to code it to display words and images according to how long I want it to display. Moreover, I learned the importance of saving energy from keynote speakers! I learned how to replicate a smart thermostat in a microbit, by coding it to react to light.” – Participant
Overall, the Micro:bit Program has developed into a project that we are proud to have facilitated. The program proved to be a useful tool in making a positive impact on communities across the province, while raising awareness about techNL and the tech industry of Newfoundland and Labrador. The program impacted young students who are curious about technology and want to spend time learning new skills by providing access to resources and training. We can inspire the youth of today to start creating and innovating with tech so they can become our future tech workforce. We hope to induce more passion towards the tech industry among youth and help young talents realize their tech dream!