Today marks the launch of the BBC micro:bit as a million of the pocket-sized, codeable computers designed to introduce young people to coding will be given to every single Year 7 pupil in the UK.
It was last May that the BBC unveiled plans to give a million schoolchildren the device designed to inspire them to get coding.
A number of teachers who have been exploring the BBC micro:bit over the last few months have put together some top tips to help others get the most out of the device:
1. Start by working through activities in the Quick Start Guide for Teachers, it’s a really great hands-on introduction to the BBC micro:bit – Steve Richards, ICT Teacher and Curriculum Team Leader at Eastlea Community School
2. Explore the projects and resources on the BBC micro:bit website. There are some really effective lesson plans for the Touch Develop code editor, targeted at all skill levels – Nic Hughes, Head of Computing at Latymer Prep School
3. Kick off with the Block Editor. It’s a great graphical coding environment to use as you introduce students to the BBC micro:bit, before you start using the text-based programming language – Jane Waite, Computing at School London Regional Coordinator (CAS London)
4. After students have learnt some basic concepts and skills, give them time to experiment. Our best results, and some really creative projects, have come when we’ve given pupils the independence to explore the new skills they’ve learnt – Clifford French, ICT Strategy Manager at Camden School for Girls
5. Look for ways to incorporate the BBC micro:bit into a wider project. Some of our kids used them as a brain for a self-driving car, a controller for a robotic arm and as part of a fitness strap. – Steve Richards, ICT Teacher and Curriculum Team Leader at Eastlea Community School
Tech giant Microsoft has developed a wealth of resources for teachers to help them get the most of the device in the classroom. The Quick Start Guide for Teachers takes them through from unboxing to set up and on to programming. It gives teachers step-by-step lesson plans and walkthroughs to get them started when the devices arrive. Microsoft also worked with teachers to produce dozens of rich lesson plans for Touch Develop and for the Block Editor. These are designed for all levels of experience, and show kids how to turn their BBC micro:bit into a Pac Man game, a Magic 8 fortune teller and much more besides. Teachers and students can also take advantage of the projects on this OneNote Notebook which show you how to use your BBC micro:bit to play music with fruit, make a watch and a number of other engaging creations.
Hugh Milward, Director of Corporate Affairs at Microsoft UK, said: “As soon as we saw the ambition and the scale involved, we jumped at the chance to partner with the BBC on a project designed expressly to introduce young people to coding. The reality is that in the UK we haven’t done enough to nurture the next generation of tech talent. The BBC micro:bit is a huge step forward, because it shows young people the creative power of digital skills.”
Microsoft has provided the online programming environment for the BBC micro:bit. This environment, delivered in a web app so it is available across multiples browsers and devices, houses Microsoft’s two easy-to-use code editors which students use to code their devices. The graphical Block Editor and the text based Touch Develop Editor introduce users to the basics of coding before giving them the tools to create more ambitious projects.