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

Develop a travel information system

Develop a programmable information system for users of the London Underground

The London Underground is one of the busiest public transport systems in the world. It is used for over 1.2 billion journeys a year. Passengers need up to date information when using it so that they can plan their journeys well.

This could be used as a main lesson activity with ‘Transport displays designed for users’ as the starter. It is an ideal exercise for learners to develop programming skills, make use of programmable components and embed intelligence into a product design.

Activity: Develop a travel information system?

In this engaging activity students will use the BBC micro:bit to create a prototype for a travel information system that could be used by passengers on the underground. The system must provide both service (how well the network is running) and timetable information when different buttons are pressed.

When writing the program those who have not done programming before may benefit from writing, experimenting with and downloading the example program shown on the Teacher PowerPoint (also provided as a PDF handout). They can use this as a base for their own program. This is provided as JavaScript Blocks Editor Powered by Microsoft MakeCode (microbit-transport-jsb.hex) and Python Editor ( code. Teachers will need to decide which programming editor is the most suitable for their learners. Code Kingdom can also be used.

The program will display a message about the service running well or poorly when Button A is pressed. It will display information about the arrival times of trains for the day when Button B is pressed.

How long will this activity take?

This activity will take approximately 60-120 minutes depending on the ability and prior experience of learners.

Tools/resources required

  • Projector/Whiteboard
  • BBC micro:bit system and online programming software
  • Internet (to access programming software)
  • Suitable sensor inputs and sound outputs

The engineering context

Transport 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 an information system, they will be able to successfully program the BBC micro:bit so that the system meets the design criteria and they will be able to understand and apply the use of a moving text on an LED display.

Download the free the activity sheets below!

All activity sheets, worksheets 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.


Transport displays

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