Start of main content
Age Range: 11-14
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • Computing
  • D&T

Create a flood warning system

Alert homeowners to the risk of flooding with your prototype

As global climate change continues to be a pressing issue, it is important for kids to understand the engineering behind flood warning systems.

Flooding is becoming increasingly common in parts of the United Kingdom and causes a lot of damage to peoples’ homes. The sooner a potential flood can be detected, the more time homeowners have to prepare and save their property.

In this free resource, learners will identify the design problems presented by flooding. They will then develop a working flood warning system using the BBC micro:bit.

By engaging in this activity, students will gain valuable knowledge about computing and design principles while having fun at the same time.

Activity: Create a flood warning system

In this activity, students will develop their programmable system using the BBC micro:bit.

This could be used as a main lesson activity. It is an ideal exercise for learners to improve their understanding of basic electronics, develop programming skills, make use of programmable components, and embed intelligence into a product design.

Students will develop their system that can detect rising water levels according to the following criteria: it must be programmable using the BBC micro:bit, it must use a suitable input device, such as a moisture sensor, to detect the level of the water around the house and it must use suitable output device, such as a flashing LED, to warn the homeowner that water levels are rising to flood levels.

Tools/resources required           

  • Projector/Whiteboard
  • BBC micro:bit system and online programming software
  • Internet (to access programming software)
  • PCB development software
  • Moisture sensors and LEDs
  • Crocodile clips or other wiring options (to attach input and output devices)
  • PCB or strip board to create homemade moisture sensors and/or potential divider circuits
  • PCB production facilities (etch tank or CAM router)

What is the BBC micro:bit?

The BBC micro:bit is a great way to get kids interested in computing. It is a small, programmable computer that can be used to create a wide variety of activities and projects. It is a powerful teaching and learning tool that helps learners develop their own systems and learn the basics of coding. It is an ideal tool for introducing children to programming concepts in a fun and engaging way.

The engineering context

This is an ideal topic for teaching about programmable components and embedded intelligence in products. These are key parts of the 2014 programme of study for Design and Technology at KS3.

It is also an ideal vehicle for using the BBC micro:bit in the classroom and developing the programming skills of learners.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

By the end of this activity students will understand a block systems diagram of the flood warning system and they will understand the use of a moisture sensor as an input sensor. They will also be able to design a moisture sensor and/or potential divider circuit. Lastly, they will be able to successfully program the BBC micro:bit so that the system meets the design criteria.

Download the free activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.


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