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micro:bit

What is the micro:bit?

The BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that can be coded, customised and controlled to bring digital ideas, games and apps to life. Measuring 4cm by 5cm, and designed to be fun and easy to use, the micro:bit can create anything from games and animations to scrolling stories at school, at home and on the go - all that is needed is imagination and creativity!

It’s incredibly versatile with several different coding platforms; Bluetooth connectivity and hard connections that enable a wide range of accessories to be used with it; a 25 LED display screen; and, an on-board accelerometer and compass that allows it to respond to movement.

Because the device is suitable for use by across the curriculum, across the age spectrum and for the hobbyist community, the micro:bit is available to purchase from various educational suppliers. There is a complete package of technical and educational support being provided by the Micro:bit Foundation.

Introducing the BBC micro:bit: an IET perspective

The micro:bit ecosystem

Several suppliers are offering project kits, accessories and sensors for science experiments. The Micro:bit Foundation and its partners is providing a comprehensive range of curriculum-linked teaching resources to support the use of micro:bit in the classroom including Schemes of Work, lesson activities, project ideas, tutorials, quick start guides and teacher training.

Where did it come from?

With the UK facing a significant skills shortage, and an extra 1.4m digital professionals needed over the next five years, in 2015 the BBC started 'Make it Digital' - a national campaign to inspire a new generation of coders and programmers.

As part of the initiative, the BBC partnered with 29 organisations including the IET to create a small programmable hardware device – the micro:bit. A million of these devices were created and given away to every Year 7/S1 child in the UK, their educators and the informal learning community.

IET Chief Executive Nigel Fine said: “The digital world is evolving all the time - and with it, the demand for more young people with coding and digital skills. It’s great to be supporting BBC Make it Digital to promote the world of digital creativity and inspire the next generation to get involved with what is fast becoming one of our most exciting and creative industries.”

micro:bit case studies

We asked three engineers to design a program for their micro:bit that would help them to carry out a task within their working environment or everyday life. The result is a case study booklet and associated video content for each highlighting:

  • the problem that the engineers were faced with;
  • how the micro:bit could provide the solution;
  • the code listing;
  • a link to the real code on the micro:bit website;
  • a quiz to ensure your students have understood the code and whether they would have done anything differently to overcome the same issue.

Download the booklets and videos below, and why not consider a problem that you face on a daily basis that your micro:bit could tackle. Then head to the micro:bit website and get coding!

Acceleration test

Abbie Hutty, Spacecraft Structures Engineer at Airbus Defence and Space, uses her micro:bit to test the parachute design which one day may be used to help the ExoMars Rover reach the surface of Mars as safely and efficiently as possible.

Fatigue test

Mechanical Project Engineer Andrew Ellwood explains how Laing O’Rourke employees could use the micro:bit in a real-life application in order to manage the onset of fatigue whilst on construction sites and operating heavy machinery.

Electronic scoreboard and game timer

The BBC micro:bit can be used in a number of real-life applications. In this video Rob Edmunds explains how he programmed his micro:bit to become an electronic scoreboard and game timer to be used during a canoe polo match. Coding the programmable device in this way allows the players to find out the score and remaining game time whilst out on the water.