Updated Unit 6 Released

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 setInterval() in JavaScript) in order to write code that repeats indefinitely. In piloting we found that these loops were a bit difficult to understand, but more importantly that the timed loop became almost unnecessary once students learned about “change” and “data” events (events get called repeatedly as data comes in from the board). Given that students weren’t really using the timed loop later in the unit, we decided to drop it entirely.

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


Had fun with unit 6 during first semester. Excited for these changes. Congrats on a job well done!

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Thank you. Have my kits and can’t wait to get started on this unit. My plan is to have kids’ projects ready for our district Tech Night. It’ll be awesome! Thanks for all the work you put into this unit.

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@josh Can you post some ideas for additional supplies that we might want to have readily available for the end of unit project? In addition to the optional supplies in the lesson.

I posted some ideas for additional supplies in this thread http://forum.code.org/t/optional-materials-for-building-prototypes/14600

Will there be example solutions for the levels? I was fine until I hit lesson 6 but now I am having difficulty with figuring out the solutions. I looked ahead to lesson 7 and 8 and I do not see example solutions… YIKES!

We’re working on adding solutions to these puzzles as we go - if there are particularly confusing levels please let us know so we can prioritize them.

Are there also solutions to Unit 3…I haven’t been able to find them…Lesson 6. Thanks

Unit 3 should have exemplars on most levels. If you’re not seeing the blue teacher panel on the right side make sure that your account has been verified.

I am considering using this Unit for my class. Can I use the Circuit Playground express or only the Classic for this? I thought I read the Classic only, then I saw that I can download Firma? onto the Circuit Playground Express and use code.org curriculum, Unit #6. Thanks in advance for your reply!

We’re finishing up support for the Express and hope to have it fully available in the coming weeks.

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I am in the mist of ordering the circuit boards for the beginning of next year but I am not sure as to exactly how many I should order? Can I get some feed back from someone who has been using the kit to give me some guidance.
Thank you.
Harriet Foster
McDowell County

Hi @harriet.foster!

I know the curriculum was written for each Circuit Playground to be used by two students.

Here is some more info about it, towards the bottom of the page “Getting Circuit Playgrounds for your Classroom”: https://code.org/circuitplayground

hope that helps!

Thank you. That is Very helpful. :+1:

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If/when support for the chrome browser goes away, how will Circuit Playgrounds work with Chromebooks?

We have lots of bugs using the Circuit Playgrounds while programming in the browser-based AppLab (uses Chrome serial connector app, not the standalone Maker app). That is, they seem to work inconsistently and incorrectly. When executing the same code many times in a row, it will yield different results. This seems especially true with using the LEDs.

It seems like a potential solution is reducing the execution speed (to about 75% or less).

See video showing issue and potential solution at: https://youtu.be/KsaJxQPOLVM

Do you know the cause or other solutions for addressing this issue? @josh

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@btwarek - Are you on a Chromebook or some other kind of computer?

I was using a MacBook, though most of our students use Chromebooks and experienced the same issues. We are interested in addressing Chromebook use, since many of our schools do not have other devices available. Thanks for your help, @dani!

@btwarek - The Chrome Serial Connector App is no longer supported for MacBook. Everyone who is not using a Chromebook should move over to the Maker App as that is the supported version.

That however does not solve the issue if you are experiencing some issue on Chromebooks. In general if you are seeing a tool problem its best to right into support@code.org so our engineers can look into it. Could you write into support@code.org with the details of what you have seen on Chromebooks?

Got it. Thanks.

And, will do. Thanks for clarifying!