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Why micro:bit is an essential tool for teaching computer science

Why micro:bit is an essential tool for teaching computer science

With back-to-school season. Educators everywhere are finding ways to. get caught up quickly, use the right tools to engage students, and streamline instructional time. Cue the lights… prepare to meet your new coding & robotics sidekick: the micro:bit. This tool will quickly become indispensable in helping you teach computer science better than ever before.

What is the micro:bit?

A micro:bit is a small programmable mini-computer specifically designed for education and embedded systems development. It was created by the BBC and various partners and in 2015 launched as part of their Make It Digital Campaign that encourages young people to get involved in coding and robotics.

The Micro: bit is smaller than a credit card, with an LED display with 25 LED lights, 2 buttons that can be programmed to change things on your micro:bit, and more. The V2 of the micro:bit now includes a speaker and microphone, which enhances its capabilities and coding potential. With micro: bit the possibilities are endless.

How is the microbit used?

Micro:bit is an educational tool that lets kids learn how to code and program and how software and hardware work. You can code a micro:bit in three languages, JavaScript, Python, and block coding directly in the coding language platforms or through third-party applications such as Microsoft Makecode. The benefit of using a third-party application is that it is beginner-friendly with a variety of tutorials that can help a first-time coder get comfortable with coding in no time. Regardless of how you make your code, you simply just need to download it to the micro:bit to see that feedback.

What can the micro:bit do?

The micro:bit includes an assortment of features from a radio and Bluetooth antenna which can communicate with other micro:bits, a temperature sensor that can tell how cold or warm the environment is, and an accelerometer that can tell when a micro:bit is moving (even when shook).

Here is a list of some of what you can do with just a micro:bit:

  • Make it play music
  • You can track your steps
  • Play games- like snake, rock paper scissors, and heads up
  • Program it to translate braille
  • Turn it into a digital watch
  • Make a coin toss
  • Measure temperature

Added benefits of using the micro:bit

Aside from the great hardware and compatibility with 3 coding languages, the micro:bit, paired with accessories and turnkey lessons, prepares students with the skills they need to tackle life’s bigger challenges. Some additional benefits of using the micro:bit include:

  1. Developing Computational thinking skills - micro:bit allows students to use their critical thinking by breaking down problems into smaller manageable parts and using algorithms, patterns, and logical reasoning to find creative solutions. This helps develop their critical thinking skills and prepares them for real-world problems.
  2. Low Floor, high ceiling - micro:bit’s ease of use makes it capable of having students start small and advance to complex projects, making all advancements milestone moments
  3. Immediate Feedback – Students will quickly see the results of their code on the micro:bit’s LED display. This lets students see if their code is working with real-time feedback.
  4. Can be used across various subjects - From science and math to art and music, micro:bit allows students to apply computational thinking across a range of different subjects.
  5. Foster Collaboration – Students can work together in groups to collaborate on their projects helping promote teamwork and strengthen their communication skills as they work towards solving challenging problems.
  6. Keeps students engaged - micro:bit keeps students engaged through features like LED display, buttons, and audio capabilities, which offers them the opportunity to take their imagination to new heights with their projects.
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