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Coding with purpose

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

GLAM girls coding their micro:bits
GLAM girls coding their micro:bits

At GLAM London 2019, one of our founding partners, global technology company Arm, stepped up to deliver a coding session for our girls. But it wasn’t any old coding session!

The challenge

The girls where grouped in teams to design, code, build and present a “micro:pet” to help combat loneliness. The design brief centred around how technology can be used for good, by coding a micro:bit to respond to stimuli. Yes, without a doubt they had mountains of fun, they were also taken out of their comfort zone while enhancing their programming skills and learning about ‘purpose’ and #TechForGood.

The kit we gave them!

  • Micro:bit - Each girl received a micro:bit (thanks Arm!) – A micro:bit is a pocket-sized, easy-to-use programmable device that introduces children to coding.

  • Mentors and laptops – Cisco was our host for the weekend, and they were able to give girls access to laptops for the session (thank you, Cisco!) and in addition we were supported in the room by volunteer mentors (thanks, mentors!).

  • Design brief – We shared with the girls some key statistics about loneliness and its impact, we then asked the girls to think about different scenarios that could be isolating. We asked them to think about what features of their micro pet could help with loneliness. Lastly, we gave them an overview of the micro:bit – just the highlights because we wanted the girls to use their exploration and discovery skills to learn, rather than be taught.

  • Materials for the outer shell – we had lots cardboard, pens, sticky-tape and scissors. We’d also given the girls a template to help build the shell of their pet, also known as a "net."

The girls got to making and coding!

The formal part of the presentation had hardly finished when the girls started erupting with excitement and the desire to create and code their pets! The girls were pretty much on it from the get-go – and while we’d kept the programming requirements simple, many of the girls experimented with more complex functions.


After just 90 minutes, the teams presented their micro:pets in all their glory. Some of the girls had used the motion detector to code reactions, or the control buttons to provide food and comfort. Each pet was different, not just from the design and name but also on their capability to help battle loneliness. One team had coded their pet to tell a joke using the micro:bits LED panel and others had programmed them to say greetings and share their name! Each pet was wondrously unique!

Feedback from the girls

Never heard of the micro:bit?

Back in 2016 this handheld, fully programmable computer was given to every 11-year-old in the UK, for free! The micro:bit is a tiny programmable device for teaching coding, with motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth technology. The micro:bit measures 4cm x 5cm and has a 25-bulb LED grid; children can program these lights to come on in sequence, making designs such as smiley faces or scrolling messages. With two buttons, it can be used as a game controller, or to skip through songs on a playlist.

Arm Schools Programme – Want to have a go at creating your very own micro:pet? You’ll find the micro pet resources and other fun courses by following the links below:

Help us empower more girls

Our mission at GLAM is a simple one: To equip girls across the globe with the skills and confidence to seek leadership roles, feel the power within their voice, and create positive change in the world. In this 'new world' we find that we have to pivot to succeed, and let’s be honest, it's not easy to do. We're 100% focused on taking our award-winning program virtual, as well as increasing our online presence and content offering for girls.

It's a critical time for us here at GLAM, and you can help us.

  • Donations – we’re always grateful for funding as we are committed to offering GLAM for free. Giving feels good! Donate here.

  • Partner – we love collaborating and have some great partnership opportunities, so contact GLAM Squad.

  • Get social - by following, liking, and engaging with GLAM on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.



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