The Space To Learn Woodland Coding for Autistic Children event took place on 18th November 2023.

It was held in Mourne Park, Kilkeel.

Following on from the St Louis Grammar School Woodland Coding event, held in October, with support from Meet and Code – this was the second Flickernet Space To Learn day.

There were 5 pupils, each with at least one carer / family member for this first ASC Space To Learn event.

The Space To Learn Approach:

  • Everyone is welcomed into the calm woodland setting.
  • An outdoor projector, seating area and refreshments are in place throughout. The introduction tells them about the woodland; explains what physical computing is (with demonstrations); then outlines the children’s  mission for the day.
  • Once ready each child – supported by their carer – has the opportunity to explore part of the woods. The sensory experience is encouraged: what can they see, hear and feel?
  • Having reflected together on what they thought, felt and experienced when walking through the woodland, we begin to find ways to express this to the best of their ability.
  • A collection of icons and faces are presented as an efficient way to share certain emotions.
  • Having coded their own happy (positive) icon and sad (negative) icon into the computers, which is then downloaded onto the connected Micro:Bit devices, they are ready to go back to exploring in the woods.
  • This time they are ready to display on their screen, and to transmit a signal indication to others, about how positive or negative they are feeling along the way.

There is an abundance of sensory stimulation in woodland – Sweet Chestnuts, for example: we felt the prickly outsides, followed by the velvety insides

Each child used a small circuit board called a Micro:Bit:

Once programmed together, the Micro:Bits function as communicators

This programmable device is popular in schools throughout the UK, and globally. It features the ability to interact through a range of input sensors and controls; to process those inputs according to the code that is downloaded to it and to output sounds, pictures, words and radio signals.

Button A: pressing Button A displays the happy (positive) icon drawn by the child and (optionally) makes a happy noise.

Button B: pressing Button A displays the sad (negative) icon drawn by the child and (optionally) makes a sad noise.


Button A: also sends communication to a nearby paired device using the radio transmitter. It shows a smile icon on the Micro:Bit that they have. They can then reply.

Button B: also sends communication to a nearby paired device using the radio transmitter. It shows a frown icon on the Micro:Bit that they have. They can then reply.

Button C (logo button): pressing this button clears the previous communication

In other words each unit both expresses their own feeling and shows them what others are feeling around them.

The children can connect their Micro:Bit device to their carer’s Micro:Bit – or to any of their friend’s. There are different channels that can be switched on or off in the code. As they will be keeping the device afterwards, children can look forward to connecting devices again in the future.

video showing two Micro:Bits communicating by sending the positive and negative communication signals between them

The presentation materials

Each of those helped in this project will end up owning their own Micro:Bit device which has been coded and configured to achieve the best outcome for their individual needs.

Micro:Bits cost from £15 each. They are available widely, including on Amazon

Every Primary School in the UK is being offered 30 Micro:Bits for free as part of a Nominet funded push to boost coding and physical computing in schools. Take-up of this offer has been exceptional: with 75% of UK Primary Schools now registered.

Our thanks to Meet and Code: A European support body for non-profits to provide access to coding and digital skills.