Hey CS Discoveries Community,
The CSD team has been feverishly working for the past few months on finalizing Unit 6, and I’m ecstatic to announce we’re launching the revised unit today, Feb 12. This unit underwent a significant overhaul, both due to feedback we got from the pilot and changes that have been made to the tools. The most significant changes are as follows:
The Maker App: When we first set off on incorporating physical computing into our existing programming tools, the goal was to make setup as painless and seamless as possible. Our first approach to this was to use a feature in the Chrome browser that allowed us to communicate with the boards over USB. While that process worked great through the pilot, Google unfortunately announced that they were doing away the technology at some point in 2018 (we still don’t have an official date). With no other browser-based options available, we had to switch course and build a standalone Maker App. This app is basically a customized browser that lets us keep connecting to the board over USB, even once Google officially ends support for Chrome apps. You can learn more about the Maker App at studio.code.org/maker/setup.
Dropping Timed Loops: The beta version of this course included a few lessons on using timed loops (known as
Adding Functions with Parameters: With timed loops gone, we had some room to bring in a new concept that we previously didn’t have time for. Students first learn functions towards the end of Unit 3 as a way to better organize their code. We added parameters to functions in Unit 6, making them much more powerful, as they can solve for more general programming patterns.
The Accelerometer and Wiring: In the first draft of this unit we didn’t make it to a few parts of the board. We’ve added a lesson about using the accelerometer (which is super fun) and a lesson where students learn to use the wires and LEDs provided in the Circuit Playground class kit. While we unfortunately had to remove support for the touch sensors due to some performance bugs we haven’t yet solved, we were able to regain similar functionality by teaching students to create buttons wired to those pins.
I’m really excited by how great this unit turned out, and I can’t wait to see what your students make with it!
Josh and the CSD team