BBC micro:bit
The BBC micro:bit

The BBC Micro:Bit

The BBC micro:bit landed in schools in Summer 2016, and received a rapturous reception from teachers and students alike. Created during a ground-breaking collaboration between BBC, ARM, Lancaster University, Bluetooth and many others, it is a game-changer in terms of ease-of-use, versatility and capability.

The BBC micro:bit has been put through its paces by programming novices and experts alike. Using the “block” coding environment allows students to progress seamlessly from Scratch, making exciting things happen in minutes. They might go on to TouchDevelop, a half-way house between visual and text-based programming; JavaScript, using the friendly Code Kingdoms editor; and then on to Python using a purpose-made, age-appropriate text editor created by the Python Software Foundation. If that’s not enough they can unleash the full power of the device using C/C++.

Many of the 29 project partners have been hard at work creating fun and interesting activities with supporting resources. Making use of the on-board accelerometer, compass, 25-LED array, Bluetooth Smart and both analogue and digital inputs and outputs, the micro:bit projects can be battery powered leading to wearables, games, science experiments, robotics and much, much more.

The 11-12 year old cohort of 2016 were fortunate enough to be given a BBC micro:bit for free - something that a newly formed, not-for-profit foundation hopes to repeat in future years. In the meantime there are BBC micro:bits available commercially from many outlets and project partners will continue to support teachers and develop resources. As a tool for engaging students with the early learning of computer programming it is unique. As a device that they can grow and experiment with it provides a great progression route to more complex tech such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

The BBC micro:bit helps young people to create, not just consume – an idea that lies at the very heart of the new computing curriculum.

Have you had your hands on a BBC micro:bit? Have your students? Please comment below and share your favourite micro:bit moments

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Computing

National STEM Learning Centre