Students help DR with Ultra:bit

IT Product Development Students Ninna Hoffmann and Marie-Louise Stisen Sørensen work with Danmarks Radio, (DR) on the new project ultra:bit which hope to spark an interest for IT and coding in Danish kids.

Photo: Ninna Hoffmann & Marie-Louise Stisen Sørensen

From lighting stars in the sealing to a microcomputer that can light up your room these are some of the things Ninna Hoffmann and Marie-Louise Stisen Sørensen work with at DR. “It’s been so fun to be a part of ultra:bit. They are really happy when we can make something happen with just a little bit of code,” says Marie-Louise.  “Also, it is nice that we have an influence on the project with our work, and that they listen to us when we bring up ideas,” Ninna adds.  

Ninna and Marie-Louise study IT Product Development at Aarhus University and are about to finish their studies. “It’s really nice that we can use our skills and knowledge from our degree in IT Product Development in real-life projects that affects so many”, says Marie-Louise. 

Ultra:bit is the Danish version of BBC’s micro:bit. The goal of the ultra:bit project is that kids should be inspired to write their own code and program the minicomputer into for instance a game or an alarm clock. Schools from all over Denmark are taking part in the ultra:bit project, and 10.000 4th graders have received a microcomputer to use their own code on. The schools and teachers have received materials with inspiration on how ultra:bit can be used as part of e.g. Danish or math classes.

Inspiring the young
Ninna and Marie-Louise are happy with that they get to inspire kids with their work.  “I really hope that the kids will be inspired of this project, and that they can use it in school or in their spare time,” says Ninna.

However, the most important thing for them is to give the kids sense of coding both what is it and what they can do with it. They compare the new ultra:bit microcomputer with the little chemist playset, which many children have tried and been inspired by.  In a world that becomes increasingly digital, it seems more important than ever to give children a strong digital foundation for when they grow up, and possibly inspire them to a future in IT at the same time.  “If we introduce kids to coding when they are young and they like it, that might make them consider studying IT when they grow up,” says Marie Louise Stisen.

*** ABOUT ultra:bit***

Ultra:bit originates from BBC in United Kingdom where it’s known as micro:bit. Micro:bit is a handheld, programmable micro-computer that can be used for all sorts of creations, from robots to musical instruments. It can be coded from any web browser in blocks, Javascript, Python and more. Micro:bit is used in schools from Denmark and Iceland to Singapore and Sri Lanka.