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How to build a micro:bit weather station - and find unexpected joy on the way

Zahraa, Web Developer at KCJ, shares her story about building a micro:bit weather station, and building bonds with her dad.

Zahraa Horeibi
March 10, 2020

As a programmer, I find myself getting creative and planning most of my projects through digital files. To build these projects, they must be programmed and processed by a computer. The work I do is stored on a computer drive, which can only be accessed digitally. In this type of workflow, my work becomes easily accessible and shareable with little physical interaction.

The micro:bit, however, lets me get handy with my projects and extend the capabilities of my creativity - which gave me a new perspective on my work.

The project was completely new to me and it was my first time crafting a project that wasn’t for myself, so I felt pretty nervous and worried that I wouldn’t be able to bring it all together.

I had the guidance and support of my manager (KCJ’s rockstar Web Services Manager and micro:bit experimenter-in-chief) Phil, who originally designed the weather station - and that made me feel relieved.

Zahraa’s completed micro:bit weather station

Zahraa’s completed micro:bit weather station

Creating the conditions for micro:bit craft project success

I wanted to make sure that I had as much time as possible to build this project, with extra in case of a mistake, so I started by getting all the required material together on a Friday, so I could work on it over the weekend.

I went to the dollar store near KCJ’s offices, but they did not have all the material I needed. This was when I realized that it would require some skills to shape the wooden plank that would support my weather station, and to drill the right sized hole into the popsicle sticks, which made the project seem more challenging than I had initially expected it to be.

At that moment, I became aware of the differences between building a digital project and a physical one, where one requires less material planning than the other. Luckily, my dad enjoys crafting so he has many useful tools that helped me with the more demanding parts of my project.

Zahraa Horeibi in a KCJ workshop

Zahraa speaking about her work in STEM during a Code in the Classroom workshop.

Building strong foundations for projects and for parents

On Saturday morning, I told my dad about the project and explained to him what I needed. He was so excited to tackle this project that the first thing he asked me was if he could build the entire project himself... to which I obviously responded “no” - because I was just as excited to build my first ever crafted micro:bit project!

My dad ended up showing me how he cuts wooden pieces, which I was not ready to do by myself yet, and then he showed me how to safely use a drill to make a hole in the popsicle sticks, which, after breaking 5 popsicle sticks, I was finally able to achieve.

I really enjoyed that morning with my dad. We shared many laughs and discussed different project ideas that could be useful in our everyday lives. I never thought I would be able to collaborate with my dad through my work, but the micro:bit project gave me a perfect opportunity to do so.

This micro:bit project allowed me to expand the way I see my work by giving me a chance to interact with it physically as opposed to digitally only. Not only that, but it also helped me to explain to my dad the type of work I do more clearly.

Constructing the micro:bit weather station

The next day, I went to the dollar store near my house to buy the remaining materials so I could finally start building the weather station. On Sunday evening, I was ready to build - or so I thought.

I gathered all the materials that I needed and began planning the steps to build the project. At that moment, I realized I forgot to add duct tape on the list of required material, so I hadn’t bought any. The dollar store had closed by that time, and we didn’t have any at home. I was a bit bothered, since I was really hoping to have most of the project ready for Monday, and my dad was really looking forward to seeing my completed work that weekend. I put together the base, and set it up so that I’d only need to tape the craft board with the dowel.

I couldn’t find the time to buy duct tape during the following week so I searched KCJ’s office - and found some! It was orange and super flashy, which made my project look even cooler.

On Wednesday night, I was finally able to complete the entire project. I felt happy and proud of how it turned out and I was excited to show off my first micro:bit project. My dad was thrilled to see this project come into existence, since he’s usually the one crafting things in the house.

I brought the completed project to work on Friday and showed it to Phil for the first time in our morning meeting. It was fun to show him a copy of the project that he had originally made, and it also made him happy to see it. The rest of the KCJ team was so excited to see it, and they were glad to be able to have a version of the weather station in their hands. They showered me with positive feedback - and immediately put it to work!

Want to learn how to build your own micro:bit weather station? Our latest video shows you how - and it even stars the weather station Zahraa made with her Dad!

For more exciting coding activities for kids and parents to create together, why not join your local Code Club? If there isn’t one in your area, you could even start your own with a local community centre or library. Coding experience isn’t necessary - we provide the projects, all you need is an openness to learn!

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