Why I’m a fan of the BBC Microbit!

We were lucky enough to get hold of a few Microbits last week (thanks Lancaster Uni!!) for our Primary pupils to play with.

If you’re unsure of what they are check out this info here. A credit card sized computer inclusive of various input methods such as buttons and accelerometer, output via LED and a micro usb slot.

I love the innovative use of the tech – it’s all in the detail. The way the ‘bits’ of the computer are labelled on the back – the a, b buttons, the micro usb. There is lots on there to keep the pupils busy. Perfect for an introduction to computing and coding.

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Their website is also high quality and very useful, easy to navigate with several options for teachers to get involved. Lots of videos – including great ones for the children to watch and links to ‘live’ lessons that the BBC has carried out.

In a coding section – the virtual Microbit gives a chance to test something before you save it to the microbit encourages risk (and allows the teacher the chance to put restrictions on it).

Here’s why I think they should be in every school:

Recognisable input:
There are a few ways to input code onto the Microbit, text based as well as block based. For Primary children the block based input is very similar to Scratch and therefore easy to pick up. Explaining the language used is super simple, and great for teachers to play about with as well.

We were quickly able to create names and pictures upon different button presses and movement – it was a great opportunity for us to learn alongside the children!

Immediate feedback:
The LEDs are incredibly motivating for the pupils – and it is so creative – within the first few minutes they children could be responsible for their picture or their name on the LEDs.

How far do you want to go…
For primary you can immediately introduce the idea of logic, variables and repetition. However it can get as inventive as you like, offering obvious progress with block based coding and text input leading to Python and Javascript.

A community

I would like to see these brilliant machines in every school – the community built up around them offers many, many options for the development of resources!

We have a fantastic resource here – let’s make the most of it!!

3 comments

  1. The packaging of the Microbit is brilliant, but I worry that it doesn’t cover all the educational opportunities there are for harnessing ‘maker culture’ to get kids into STEM. At @ShrimpingIt we hope for the very oldest primary kids to be able to follow guides like this…
    http://start.shrimping.it/project/blink/build.html
    …and start using electronics prototyping materials for real – really useful for building their own inventions, (and not just relying on what’s built-in to somebody else’s circuit board design). Both Codebug and Microbit are brilliant too, though, they just serve slightly different needs. Our work is about unlocking the Arduino community for educators and learners, cheaply and with confidence.

  2. Thanks both! I will check them out. The chance to code with something that moves also adds great motivation and possibilities!

    I should add that these will also work with a chromebook.

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