ICD 2024 logo - Inclusive Digital Maker Futures for Children via Physical Computing
June 16, 2024

Inclusive Digital Maker
Futures for Children via
Physical Computing

Central European Summer Time (UTC +1)

Location: Delft, Netherlands

About the workshop

Host conference: 23rd ACM Interaction Design and Children Conference (opens in new tab) June 17-20, 2024

This workshop will bring together researchers and educators to imagine a future of low-cost, widely available digital making for children, both within the STEAM classroom and beyond. The main focus will be on expanding the reach of digital making with programmable microcontrollers (such as Arduino, the BBC micro:bit, etc.) to underrepresented children in the STEAM fields, which includes historically excluded or marginalized children as well as those lacking access to computers and/or the Internet. Participants will report on their experience helping children learn about digital technology while creating physical computing systems, including wearables, robotics, environmental sensors and more. Participants who submit a position paper or work-in-progress report will have an opportunity to present their work and ideas. From these presentations, we will select emerging themes to discuss.

Key dates

  • Program available now!
  • Workshop and Conference registration deadline: June 1, 2024
  • Workshop: Monday June 17, 2024

Goals and outcomes

The goals of the workshop are to:

  • to facilitate discussions about inclusive digital making for children using programmable micro-controllers;
  • to explore the benefits and challenges of inclusive digital making;
  • to discuss open questions and future directions for the field

The workshop outcome will be a vision statement about the future of digital maker technologies, with particular consideration given to the needs of a diverse set of children. We will also document a collection of inclusive educational resources for widely available programmable micro-controllers such as the BBC micro:bit and Arduino. We hope these will inspire a new population of educators and students from around the globe to engage with STEAM subjects. Workshop participants will come away with new knowledge and experience to drive their own efforts in inclusive digital making.


This is full day workshop that include hands-on activities with the BBC micro:bit (opens in new tab) and MicroCode (opens in new tab), lightning talks on experiences teaching with programmable micro-controllers and new research directions, as well as group discussions on ways to address the digital divide in STEAM. We will make all accepted papers available via the web before the workshop and use them to organize presentations and discussions.

The workshop will provide opportunities for participants to work hands-on with MicroCode, an experience that combines the micro:bit V2 with a display accessory to enable live and portable programming without the need for a separate computer. The MicroCode project is open source (opens in new tab). Hardware will be made available during the workshop. Familiarity with programmable micro-controllers is not required.


Participation in this workshop does not require the submission of a paper; however, participants are encouraged to submit a brief statement describing their interest and motivation in joining the workshop. Everyone who wishes to participate should submit one of the following:

Those who wish to present must submit either a position paper or work-in-progress report. At least one author of an accepted workshop paper needs to be registered (in addition to attending) the workshop.

Paper submissions for Lightning Talks

We welcome paper submissions of position papers, work-in-progress reports for a lightning talk, related to inclusive digital making for children:

  • position papers including but not limited to discussing research questions, methodology, opportunities, benefits, challenges, or implications of inclusive digital making for children;
  • work-in progress reports including but not limited to preliminary results, demonstrations, case studies, or surveys that highlight current research in inclusive digital making for children.

Paper length is limited to 4 pages maximum, including references. The selection will be based on the relevance and quality of the papers submitted. Accepted papers will be invited to present their submission in a dedicated lightning talk session. At least one author of each accepted paper must register and attend the workshop and main conference. Submissions should be in single column PDF format, following ACM SIGCHI Paper Format (opens in new tab). Templates are available for Word (opens in new tab) and Overleaf (opens in new tab). Submissions should not be anonymized.

Submit your paper via EasyChair (opens in new tab) by April 15, 2024. Notifications will go out May 1, 2024.

Workshop organizers

Tom Ball

Thomas Ball, Partner Researcher, Microsoft. Tom led the team that developed the MakeCode programming environment for the BBC micro:bit, and was a founding member of the original BBC micro:bit deployment in the UK in 2015. His expertise is in software engineering, programming languages, and platforms for CS education.

Jayne Everson

Jayne Everson (opens in new tab), PhD student, University of Washington. Jayne studies implicit power structures in CS classrooms. Her work is informed by her experience as a classroom teacher in math, science, engineering, as well as with robotics and makerspaces.

Joe Finney

Joe Finney (opens in new tab), Professor, Lancaster University. As a founding member of the original BBC micro:bit deployment, Joe architected and continues to maintain the C++ CODAL runtime and firmware that forms the foundation of the micro:bit software stack. His research focuses on democratizing access to embedded tools and technologies to empower others to create new applications and devices that bring positive impacts on society.

Steve Hodges

Steve Hodges (opens in new tab), Professor, Lancaster University. Steve guided hardware development and manufacturing during the original BBC micro:bit deployment, and continues to advise the Micro:bit Educational Foundation in parallel with pursuing research into physical computing and interactive devices. Steve’s career goal is to identify, develop and deliver hardware-plus-software experiences that provide lasting value to users and society.

Elisa Rubegni

Elisa Rubegni (opens in new tab), Associate Professor, Lancaster University. Elisa’s research focuses on designing and evaluating children’s experience in interacting with mobile and distributed technologies, and the social agency this creates in educational contexts. Her projects aimed at investigating research questions around the impact of technology-based experiences for supporting children’s narrative thinking, emotional and cognitive skills development.

R. Benjamin Shapiro

R. Benjamin Shapiro (opens in new tab), Associate Professor, University of Washington. Ben is a learning scientist and a champion of the BBC micro:bit since its early days. He designs new learning technologies and experiences that enable people, especially youth, to make new computational systems that help them to understand the world around themselves, express themselves creatively, and care for human and non-human others.

Colby Tofel-Grehl

Colby Tofel-Grehl (opens in new tab), Associate Professor, Utah State University. Colby designs teacher professional development and curricular materials within frameworks of rightful presence and critical theories to facilitate minoritized rural youth’s success within STEM spaces. Her scholarship interrogates the structures, systems, and practices that foster inequities across STEM learning environments.

Lorraine Underwood

Lorraine Underwood (opens in new tab), Senior Teaching Associate and PhD student, Lancaster University. Lorraine’s research is around using physical computing to teach data science to primary aged children of ages 5 to 11. She has developed both hardware and software tools around the micro:bit to achieve this goal. Lorraine has very recently run classroom studies with the micro:bit and MicroCode.

Rojin Vishkaie

Rojin Vishkaie (opens in new tab), Senior User Experience Researcher at Amazon. Rojin is an expert in contextual and participatory design, user-experience and user-centered design; she performs research via ethnographic methods and usability testing. Her work focuses on design and evaluation of technology, with recent use cases in devices, mixed-reality education, museums, and children’s gaming and toys.

a woman smiling and posing for the camera

Kimberly Ying (opens in new tab), Software Engineer on MakeCode team, Microsoft. Kim is a front-end developer for MakeCode, working full time on the team for about two years. She holds a Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing from the University of Florida. Her passions lie at the intersection of computer science education and equity for all.