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Introduction to BBC Micro:bit

The BBC micro:bit is a very simple computer. It is programmed by using another device (smart phone, tablet, PC, IPad for example) to write the program, which is then compiled and downloaded onto the BBC micro:bit. The newly programmed BBC micro:bit can be disconnected and will run the program, just like other embedded devices, such as a digital watch, a GPS device or a pocket calculator.

We will be using the online programming environment which you can find here (this will open in a new window). Until the BBC micro:bit devices arrive in school (should be this term) we will be using the online simulator which is just like the real thing (well, almost!)

The device has a display made up of 25 LEDs and some simple input controls that can be used in a number of ways. It is small enough to slip into a pocket or even wear.

The BBC micro:bit offers an introduction to programming and making: switch on, program it to do something fun, wear it, customise it, and put new ideas into action. It can be programmed to show words or shapes, tell the time or play games.

It is designed to be a starting point to get you interested in coding so you can move on to other, more sophisticated devices in future. The BBC micro:bit has an accelerometer, which can detect movement, and it can connect and communicate with other devices, including Arduino, Galileo and Raspberry Pi.

It offers a natural progression from screen-based programming using visual languages such as Scratch (which some of you might have already done), and can lead on to more complex, text-based programming (such as Microsoft Small Basic which you will do in Year 8).

The BBC micro:bit also has Bluetooth Low Energy, allowing it to be part of the ‘Internet of Things’ – the extension of the internet beyond computers and smartphones to include other embedded systems, from fridges to cars, and even home central heating systems!