The Calliope mini is a tinkering tool built to help with STEM education in german schools (in the beginning – in the meantime there are user-groups all over the world) – some call it the german microbit, which is not totally wrong. Find a nice comparison of the two boards here. Or listen to this podcast episode where i gave a bit more background on the project.
The reason why i am writing this post is a brand-new version of the Calliope mini that just came out a few days ago. It only has one big feature upgrade, but i think it is a very significant one – especially when it comes to using the board as a day-to-day tool in a real classroom situation.
The version 2.0 comes with a built in flash-memory chip that can hold up to 20 programs for the board. These programs can be flashed onto the board without a computer, just by using the onboard controls.
A quick explanation by a german teacher can be found here:
So why is this important for a class-room situation? In my experience one big hurdle for using a microcontroller for teachers is the fact, that you need lots of computers, too. And a working internet connection. Getting all this up and running for 30 students can consume 50% of the available time, easily. But maybe you just wanted to use the board to measure humidity of the soil of a plant. Or you want to measure conductivity of some material. Or use it as a math-trainer. Or explain the concept of randomness to your students by using a built in oracle program. In all these cases it’s not so much about programming, it’s rather using the board as an educational tool. And maybe raising kids interests in coding on the fly, too.
For all these situations the Calliope 2.0 is the right tool – and way better than any other classroom-STEM-tools on the market. Because you can either use one of the pre-installed programs (overview here) and perform a nice lesson around that (no computers needed). Or you have your own little selection of programs that you want to use here and there – and upload them to the used minis in you classroom beforehand.
In my opinion (and from my classroom-experience so far) this can really be a game-changer for the everyday use of a tool like that in a real classroom situation.