do your :bit challenge
Children and teens combine creativity and technology in solutions to the Global Goals
do your :bit is a global challenge focusing on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which aim to unite governments, businesses, civil society and the general public in action to end poverty, fight injustice and tackle climate change. Using creativity and technology, children and teens are tasked with devising creative solutions using the micro:bit.
Following the success of an initial pilot in 2018, the Microbit Educational Foundation in partnership with World’s Largest Lesson, Arm & British Council launched do your :bit in 2019. The challenge encouraged children to learn about some of the problems facing our oceans and natural world and have a go at developing ideas and solutions using technology.
The challenge ran from September 2019 to February 2020 and attracted over 1,000 entries from all over the world, with the help and support of over 50 community partner organisations. The entries culminated in a wide range of innovative prototypes and concepts, from solutions to protect sharks in Costa Rica, raise awareness of deforestation in the USA and reduce oil spillages in Nigeria.
They take ownership of the challenges ahead of them and learn to be responsible global citizens.
The do your :bit challenge focused on the Global Goal 14 Life below Water & Goal 15 Life on Land. Through these topics, children could explore issues which affect their local communities, from climate change and deforestation, to water pollution and animal welfare. Connie Chen, who supported the challenge in Hong Kong, said “We would like children to think that they are a part of a larger global community, and through the process of understanding and help solving problems from the Global Goals, they take ownership of the challenges ahead of them and learn to be a responsible global citizen.”
This allows them to gain confidence and feel part of a global movement.
One of the highlights for the children and teens who participated in the challenge was working together on solutions to help their local community and environment, while also being part of something truly global. A teacher in Uruguay said “The [do your :bit] workshop was a good experience for students from many different contexts to have access to an international level competition. This allows them to gain confidence and feel part of a global movement, and to understand what they do is not far from what other young people like them do in the rest of the world.”
In Malawi, hackathon workshops and training for do your :bit were supported by Arm and delivered by British Council, mHub and Institute of Imagination, with 15 local teachers and 33 students from Mtandire village in Lilongwe taking part. Through these activities, they explored the Global Goals using the micro:bit, with many children using a computer for the first time. After learning new digital skills and the basics of programming, they then discussed problems in their village such as access to water, home security and road safety, before using cardboard, foil and other craft materials to make prototypes of their solutions. After presenting their unique ideas to their fellow students, many of these innovations were then entered into the do your :bit challenge.
Access for all
One of the aims of do your :bit is to broaden participation and reach among underrepresented groups, while encouraging a focus on solutions for local issues. A project in Brazil brought together children from Venezuela from the indigenous tribe Warao, meaning People from Water. The children, aged 8-14, took part in an activity using the micro:bit as part of an alarm to protect trees. "Those kids had never used a computer before and have never learnt to read. But now they can code, with the micro:bit.” said Tiago, who ran the volunteer project.
Inspiring girls to create
I hope it gives her the confidence to keep going.
Lynn Lewis, a secondary school student in the US, had never really seen herself as someone who is good with technology. But she decided to take part in the do your :bit challenge along with her classmates, and through hard work and persistence, she developed a winning solution using the micro:bit, a camera and Raspberry Pi to raise awareness of deforestation.
Her teacher saw how hard Lynn and her classmates worked to come up with solutions, and to keep trying even when things did not always work as expected. “All of my students worked very hard on their projects and are very passionate about helping to make the world a better place. Lynn has never really seen herself as someone who is good with technology and I saw first hand the hard work and positivity she displayed when things didn't work out. I couldn't be happier that she was the one to win it and I hope it gives her the confidence to keep going.”
Thousands of girls around the world took part in the do your :bit challenge, demonstrating a passionate interest in solving environmental challenges through teamwork and collaboration. One third of entries to the challenge were all-female teams, and over a quarter of entries were mixed group of both girls and boys.
Solutions to local issues
Young participants in Mauritius took their micro:bits to the beach where they learned about the environmental challenges facing their island. This helped to engage and inspire them to come up with creative ways to protect their habitat.
One girl held a micro:bit for the first time at 8am on the beach... by 3pm she'd programmed the device as part of an invention.
Once they explored the functions of micro:bit in the classroom, each child created a protoype from cardboard as a solution to some of the environmental issues they had been exploring on the beach that day. An 11 year old girl invented an alarm with the micro:bit which would sound if temperatures above 60c were recorded; this could then help to alert emergency services to potential forest fires. "She held a micro:bit for the first time at 8am on the beach... by 3pm she had programmed the device..." said Tasneem Abbasakoor, a British Council Teacher in Mauritius.
The do your :bit challenge reached every continent with thousands of children and teens taking part all over the globe. By coming together in teams and as individuals to create innovative and inspiring solutions, they have all played a vital role in working towards the Global Goals while also becoming active in their communities.