Morse code with Micro:bit in the Public City Library Nova Gradiška, Croatia
Publication date: December 27, 2022
Kristina Slišurić, leading teacher, Croatia
This year’s initiative-related activities were organised during Code Week, together with numerous activities that were taking place all across Europe at the same time, reason why the public city library, located in a small town in Croatia, Nova Gradiška, decided to add theirs Code Week Activities Map. This article will describe one of them: “The Morse code with Micro:bit“.
The activities were announced with prepared posters, also on social networks.
Participants learned about Morse code and how it was used in World War II. They created and sent secret messages using Morse code and Micro:bit. During the activity, pupils wrote down their names and sent messages to friends who, in order to understand it, needed to decode the message. The main goal of the activity was developing computational thinking skills as well as getting a better understanding of coding and encryption.
The activity started interestingly and unexpectedly: the teacher turned off the lights and left the class completely in the dark.
The teacher gave light signals with a lamp and asked the pupils if they knew what she was trying to tell them. They all agreed that she was sending them some kind of message, but they didn’t know what kind. They also remembered the call for help, SOS, which can be sent with light signals if you are lost in the dark and have a flashlight. This was the starting point for the teacher to explain them the concept of encryption using this simple example of the Morse code.
She introduced the participants to a brief history of Morse code and showed them an online Morse code translator. After that, pupils, guided by the teacher, went to the code writing page and entered the code (makecode.com) for a micro bit device, which would play a short sound (a dot in Morse code) by pressing the A key, and a longer sound (a dash in the Morse code) by pressing the B key. After testing the program on the simulator, they transferred the code to the device, connected the alligator clips to the headphones and micro:bit and tested the program again. Pupils chose a secret message, chose their own word to code it, and coded it with Morse code that they played on the micro:bit device, while the other participants had to try to decode that word.
As this activity took place during the Croatian book month, several books were recommended to the children in which encryption was used to hide secret messages, such as: Tom Gates – Genius ideas.
At the end of the workshop, the participants received their participation certificates.
On the prepared board (on the web, Padlet, https://bit.ly/morse2022), participants were also able to draw and write messages about how they felt at the end of the workshop.
In order to prepare the pupils for the technologically advanced world it is thus of great importance to introduce them to coding, and help them to become open-minded, curious and always following the path of innovation, progress to grant them a better future.
They could keep expanding their knowledge on topics such as exposure to new technologies – programming, robotics, IOT; and acquire skills of thinking outside the box, logical reasoning, problem solving, practicing patience and perseverance.
It’s amazing to see how pupils approach such workshops, and the great deal of excitement, joy and curiosity, which is the most important and sometimes the most difficult goal for teachers to achieve nowadays.
Joining the initiative of the EU Code Week brings us a lot of new valuable knowledge and inspiring ideas every year, making us all excited and already looking forward to the challenges Code Week will bring in 2023!