The BBC micro:bit is a small, pocket-sized computer designed to inspire creative thinking in children and help them learn about programming and digital skills. Developed by the BBC, this versatile device provides an engaging platform for primary school students to explore technology while developing crucial problem-solving and computational thinking abilities.
The micro:bit can be utilised effectively in primary school through various hands-on projects and lesson plans. With a wealth of online resources and supporting materials available, educators can quickly bring the micro:bit into their classrooms and engage students in a fun, interactive way. Teachers can integrate the device into different subject areas, such as art, science, and geography, allowing students to see the real-world impact of their digital creations. This fosters a deeper understanding of computer science concepts and promotes cross-curricular learning experiences.
Through coding activities and project-based learning, primary school students can effectively develop digital skills, curiosity, and confidence in using technology for problem-solving and creative expression. One of the critical aspects of the micro:bit is its accessibility, making it an ideal tool for students with no prior coding experience. The device features a simple interface, built-in sensors, and various input/output options to encourage exploration and experimentation.
The micro:bit boasts an array of features, including:
- LED Light Display: A 5×5 matrix of programmable LED lights, allowing users to create images, text, and shapes.
- Buttons: Two programmable buttons for interaction and input.
- Sensors: Various built-in sensors such as an accelerometer and compass.
- Input/Output Features: A range of connections, including pins for attaching external devices and Bluetooth for wireless connectivity.
The latest micro:bit version also includes sound sensing and playback capabilities.
These features provide an interactive platform for primary school students to learn basic coding concepts and develop foundational programming skills.
Micro:bit Educational Foundation
The micro:bit Educational Foundation is an organisation dedicated to promoting the use of the BBC micro:bit in schools across the globe. The foundation aims to inspire the next generation of digital creators through resources, training, and support.
Their website offers a wealth of educational resources designed for use in the classroom, covering various topics and skill levels. Teachers and students can choose from diverse activities and projects, allowing them to explore the core potential of the micro:bit and its features.
Using micro:bit in Primary Schools
Incorporating micro:bit into the curriculum
Integrating the micro:bit into the classroom is a seamless process. Students can write and test codes to operate the micro:bit by connecting the device to a tablet or computer. The device’s small size makes it an ideal learning tool, as it can be easily stored and shared among students. Having multiple devices in the classroom allows for collaborative learning and peer-to-peer interaction, fostering an environment where students can share ideas and challenge each other to develop unique solutions.
The micro:bit Educational Foundation provides numerous resources for teachers and primary schools to implement micro:bits effectively. These resources include posters, display materials, and certificates that can be utilised in the classroom. Additionally, teachers can access free webinars covering a range of topics to help them get started on their micro:bit journey. The BBC has also collaborated with the micro:bit Educational Foundation to offer free micro:bits for primary schools, further demonstrating their commitment to expanding digital creativity in education. By taking advantage of these resources, primary teachers can confidently incorporate micro:bits into their curriculum and classroom, enhancing their students’ learning experience.
Creative projects encourage primary school children to explore their imagination in designing various interactive objects using the micro:bit. One popular beginner-friendly platform is Microsoft Makecode, which offers a graphical block-based system for programming the micro:bit.
Some example creative projects include:
- LED animations: Children can learn to create simple animations on the micro:bit’s LED display, such as displaying shapes or messages, which can help develop their understanding of loops and programming logic.
- Interactive games: The micro:bit offers opportunities for children to design and create interactive games, such as a reaction timer or a digital dice. This can enhance their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
- Music makers: With the addition of a built-in microphone and speaker in the new micro:bit with sound, children can explore coding music and sounds in their projects.
Do Your:Bit Challenge
The Do Your:Bit Challenge is a partnership between micro:bit and the United Nations’ Global Goals that provides inspiring activities for classrooms and clubs. The challenge encourages students to combine their creativity and problem-solving skills to address real-world issues like climate change, poverty, and inequality.
By participating in the Do Your:Bit Challenge, primary school children can:
- Gain a deeper understanding of global challenges and their potential solutions.
- Develop essential skills in programming, innovation, and problem-solving.
- Apply their new skill sets in creating projects that contribute to achieving the UN’s Global Goals.
Programming and coding with micro:bit
The micro:bit is a versatile and engaging tool in computing and programming, especially for primary schools. Students can build their skills in coding and problem-solving by using this compact device in various creative ways.
Coding with MakeCode
MakeCode is a popular block-based programming platform provided by Microsoft, designed specifically for the micro:bit. It features a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for young learners to build and customise programs. The Microsoft MakeCode editor offers an accessible environment where children can experiment with drag-and-drop coding techniques, making it an ideal choice for introducing programming concepts to students in primary schools.
Coding with Python
Python integration extends the range of programming opportunities with the micro:bit. This versatile language is famous for its readability and ease of use, making it highly suitable for teaching programming concepts in primary school settings.
Students can work with Python code using dedicated micro:bit resources like the Python editor. Within this environment, learners can write, test, and debug their Python scripts while interacting with various micro:bit hardware features. The micro:bit runtime offers support for C/C++ as well, providing additional flexibility for more advanced programming projects.
The micro:bit serves as a valuable instrument for primary school education, aiding in developing essential coding and programming skills. Through user-friendly environments like MakeCode and Python, students can explore the world of computing in an engaging and accessible way.
Micro:Bit Sensors and Inputs
The micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer designed to inspire creative thinking in children. It offers a variety of sensors and inputs that can be used in primary school projects.
Buttons and Touch Inputs
A vital feature of the micro:bit is its buttons and touch inputs. It has buttons which can be programmed to trigger specific functions or actions. Additionally, the touch logo on the device can be used as a capacitive touch sensor. These inputs make it easy for young students to interact with the micro:bit and build simple, engaging projects.
Accelerometer and Compass
Another set of built-in sensors on the micro:bit is the accelerometer and compass. The accelerometer can be utilised to detect the micro:bit’s movement, orientation, and even the force of the motion. Examples of projects that use the accelerometer include movement-activated alarms and interactive games.
The micro:bit also features a magnetometer chip, which functions as a compass. This can be used to teach students about navigation or even create projects that rely on the Earth’s magnetic field.
The micro:bit offers a range of sensors and input options for primary school projects, providing an accessible and engaging way for children to learn about technology and coding.
Micro:Bit Outputs and Connectivity
The micro:bit has an LED light display, one of its primary outputs. This display consists of a 5×5 grid of LEDs, which can be programmed to show various patterns, messages, and images. Teachers can use this feature to engage primary school students in understanding how software and hardware interact.
Another significant output feature of the micro:bit is its onboard speaker. The speaker is programmable, enabling pupils to create different sounds, music, and audio effects, adding an extra layer of interaction to the learning experience. This addition to the latest micro:bit allows students to experiment with sound sensing and playback capabilities.
Radio and Bluetooth
In addition to its visual and audio outputs, the micro:bit offers Radio and Bluetooth connectivity. The Radio functionality allows for easy communication between multiple micro:bits, enabling students to work together and collaborate on projects. In primary schools, this can help foster team-building and problem-solving skills among pupils.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology allows the micro:bit to connect wirelessly to various devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. This feature opens up many possibilities for primary school learners, allowing them to control and interact with other devices through the micro:bit, unleashing their creativity and enhancing their understanding of software and hardware integration.
Support and Training for Educators
Lesson Plan Resources
Educators can access various teaching resources to integrate micro:bit into their primary school curriculum. These resources, such as workbooks, activity plans, posters, and learner activity sheets, are available on the official micro:bit website. These materials serve as valuable aids for teachers, allowing them to create engaging, interactive lessons focused on computing and using micro:bits in their classrooms.
Webinars are available to help teachers effectively implement micro:bit in their teaching. These webinars usually cover computing essentials, classroom applications, and coding. The Computing At School Forums offers UK teachers and educators a community platform. To become a member, one must provide verifiable proof of being a teacher or educator. Membership grants access to various webinars and resources tailored for teaching with micro:bits.
For primary school educators looking to deepen their understanding of micro:bit technology and its classroom applications, micro:bit Professional Development courses have been recently launched. These courses are designed to take the stress out of computing responsibilities and cater to teachers supporting primary and elementary students. Using short and friendly videos, the courses cover various topics related to computing and the micro:bit. These professional development opportunities are ideal for educators seeking to enhance their skills and contribute to a more dynamic learning environment centred on technology and innovation.
Micro:Bit in the United Kingdom
BBC Education and the Micro:Bit Initiative
The impact of the micro:bit has been felt across the United Kingdom, including England, Wales, and Scotland. In 2016, Computing at School, an organisation supporting computing education initiatives, delivered micro:bits to students at over 5,000 schools and hundreds of homeschools.
In England, the micro:bit is often used in Year 7, the first year of secondary education. The device assists students in developing fundamental programming skills while encouraging them to explore their creativity in a hands-on, engaging manner.
Wales and Scotland have also benefitted from the micro:bit to enhance digital education. In both countries, the micro:bit is used in primary schools to offer a fun and accessible way to introduce coding concepts to young learners.
The British Council supports implementing and using the micro:bit in its 21st Century Schools Programme, which is based on the UK’s successful experience with the device. This programme aims to improve critical thinking, problem-solving, and digital skills for millions of primary school-age children across South-East Europe and Turkey.
The micro:bit has become a valuable addition to the curriculum of primary schools in the United Kingdom. Its versatility and ease of use significantly promote and advance digital education for children in England, Wales, and Scotland.