Today we're going to give you a micro:bit introduction, because it's a great way to get your child engaged in STEM projects. Would you like your child to learn about electronics and how to program them? Do you desire to have this electronic device be compact and easy to use and understand?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ve come to the right place! You can enroll your child in our Lights & Beats with micro:bit course. But first, let’s learn about the BBC micro:bit.

Enjoy a micro:bit introduction

Here we'll walk you through what the micro:bit is, why it's helpful for children to learn to code with a micro:bit, and much more. So let's get started.

What is a micro:bit?

The BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that introduces you to how software and hardware work together. It has an LED light display, buttons, sensors and many input/output features that you can program and physically interact with. The latest micro:bit adds sound sensing and playback capabilities.

The front of BBC micro:bit has 25 programmable LEDs arranged in a 5 x 5 grid, two programmable buttons (really three because you can program A & B together), a programmable touch logo and microphone indicator. The back of the BBC micro:bit  has the microphone, processor, speaker, radio/bluetooth antenna, accelerometer, compass.

There is also a built in light sensor and temperature sensor on the micro:bit as well as pins along the bottom that can be used to connect accessories. The BBC micro:bit can be plugged into a computer with a USB connector or accessed through their app on a tablet.  The battery pack can be connected to the BBC micro:bit to provide portable power on the go.

Why should kids learn to code with the micro:bit?

Coding with the micro:bit encourages kids to gain basic skills preparing them for today’s modern digital world. The BBC micro:bit integrates the code kids write with the embedded hardware to create interesting projects, while teaching them how to control hardware through programming. This promotes an understanding within kids by demonstrating they have to program the hardware to respond to their code and input.

Plus it’s easy to get started and fun! You don’t even have to own a micro:bit to start a project. The MakeCode website allows kids to start coding the micro:bit and see the results right in the simulator.

It also has tutorials to help get kids started creating their own. To help your child start their first project with micro:bit, without even purchasing the device, check out our latest blog post on how to code your first micro:bit animation.

What can kids make with the micro:bit?

There are so many project to choose from, including Flashing Heart, Digital Die (code shown below), a Marco Polo Game using the radio, a Mind Reader Game and Rock, Paper, Scissors. Kids are only limited by their imagination.

Microbit for kids

As shown in the Digital Die example above, kids code using blocks that are familiar to them if they have coded using Scratch before.

The Flashing Heart project allows kids to code the LEDs on the front of the to blink on and off in a heart shape. The Digital Die displays a random number from 1 to 6on the LEDs when they shake the micro;bit. Marco Polo sends messages between two micro:bits using the radio feature and sending/receiving strings. Lastly the Rock, Paper, Scissors game displays an image representing Rock, Paper or Scissors on the LEDs of the micro:bit.

Our favorite project is the Mind Reader project. The micro:bit chooses a random number from 1 to 10 and then the user must try to guess it. This project involves programming the buttons on the micro:bit, the LEDs, and high engagement with the user since the number they must guess changes every game!

Where can I find resources and classes to get started using micro:bit?

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation contains information about how to get started with the BBC micro:bit including projects, lessons, the coding interface,  where to purchase the device based on the country you reside. Kids can start by getting an overview of the BBC micro:bit and continue on to explore projects that can be created using the BBC micro:bit. Finally this website provides links coding interface with either the MakeCode interface or Python Editor.

How to use MakeCode for micro:bit?

If your children do not have an actual BBC micro:bit device, but would still like to start coding with the micro:bit, the MakeCode website is a great place to start. It provides tutorials, with step-by-step instructions that are easily followed by kids. It also saves all your projects, and you can also download projects to save directly to your computer.

Discover micro:bit introduction projects

Explore the top micro:bit projects for 2021 to find a fun activity today. For kids who have a BBC micro:bit, in this blog post by Seeed Studio, you will find 28 projects kids can do with their micro:bit. It also lists the supplies needed to complete the project, with links to purchase the components. Some of the interesting projects include:  

1. Take a Selfie with a Micro:bit Remote (Project #5)

This project is cool because kids join their micro:bit to their phone and program the micro:bit to take a picture by pressing a button on the micro:bit. Kids can even place their phone in one room and take pictures from another room. Pretty clever!

2. Gesture Recognition (Project #9)

Ever wonder how people control their drones or robots with their hands? This project will teach kids how to code their micro:bit to recognize different gestures and have the ability to display the gestures on the micro:bit. This is a great first step to promote understanding with sensors and control.

3. Automated Plant Watering System (Project #26)

Interested in how an automatic sprinkler system works? Would you like to have a system like that for your houseplants? Check out this project to build and program your micro:bit to water your plants.

Micro:bit introduction lessons for beginners

We love teaching Lights & Beats with Micro:Bit. In this class, your child will code lights, sensors, and even radio with this powerful little device. Is your child interested in smart devices, or does they want to build robots or rockets one day? This little device packs very powerful capabilities: LED lights, speaker, temperature sensor, microphone, and even an accelerometer.

Coding is done in a simulator that works just like the physical BBC micro:bit. So, your child won’t need the physical device to take the class. But if you do decide to purchase  one, all the code will work perfectly on the device without any changes.

Join us to learn about all the possibilities that the BBC micro:bit has to offer!

Brought to you by Adrienne Unertl, Instructor at Create & Learn