While FabNewport has branched into many programmatic activities, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) is still at the core of our work. Director of Instruction Josie Michaud is leading the STEAM charge by running programs in Newport, Providence, and zooming across the state. Michaud’s passion for tech, combined with the accessibility of the tools she teaches with, has flowered great success.

Fab’s afterschool programs are taught with MicroBit. The BBC Micro:Bit is a pocket-sized computer that introduces students to how software and hardware work together. It has an LED light display, buttons, sensors, and many input/output features that, when programmed, let it interact with you and your world. Costing only $20 a kit, BBC Micro:Bit has proven to be an inexpensive way to give students a one-on-one experience with coding and robotics.

“There’s a low barrier of entry. Right away kids can start making something happen on it. They can begin to understand the code in a very concrete way. The roof on it is really high. The ceiling is really high and the walls are wide… so you can make some really sophisticated things happen.” – Michaud

The coding that Josie teaches now is the precursing knowledge for these students to become engineers and computer scientists. The Micro:Bit class explores on a basic level how sensors work in things like stuffed animals with recorded voices or door alarms. Using Micro:Bit allows Josie to simulate these events on a controlled level, giving the class the ability to break them down and understand each mechanism and how it works. Micro:Bit creates a bridge of knowledge between beginner coding and advanced computer science. By learning Micro:Bit, students learn all the major concepts of coding machinery.