There has been a lot of information and discussion over the past few days at Microsoft Future decoded about the BBC Micro:Bit.
So what is the BBC micro:bit
The BBC describe the micro:bit as a pocket-sized, codable computer that allows children to get creative with technology. Made possible through a major partnership with 28 organisations, up to 1 million micro:bits will be given away, one to every 11 or 12 year old child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK, for free.
The picture here is not the final micro:bit, its simply the prototype that all the partners are presently using.
From a education STEM perspective Microsoft is working with two project BloodhoundSSC to help them use the Micro:Bit within their Rocket Car Challenge and the Satellite Applications Catapult details of these project was shared at Microsoft Future Decoded event.
The BBC micro:bit is based on the mbed HDK. The target MCU is a Nordic nRF51822 with 16K RAM, 256K Flash. As well as the nRF51822 there's also an onboard accelerometer and magnetometer from Freescale.
- The Micro:Bit Can be programmed using the BBC's online interface with tools such as:
- Microsoft TouchDevelop IDE
- Microsoft Blocks
- mbed enabled
- Online IDE
- Easy to use C/C++ SDK
- Dedicated micro:bit runtime libraries for rapid development
- Nordic nRF51822 Multi-protocol Bluetooth® 4.0 low energy/2.4GHz RF SoC
- 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 processor (16MHz)
- 16kB RAM
- 256kB Flash
- Bluetooth Low Energy Master/Slave capable
- 25 LED Matrix
- Freescale MMA8652 3-axis Accelerometer
- Freescale MAG3110 3-axis Magnetometer (e-compass)
- Push Button x2
- USB and Edge connector Serial I/O
- 2/3 reconfigurable PWM outputs
- 5 x Banana/Croc-clip connectors
- Edge connector
- 6 x Analog In
- 6-17 GPIO (configuration dependent)
- USB Micro B connector
- JST power connector (3v)
The micro:bit runtime, developed by Lancaster University, abstracts all of the micro:bit hardware and provides an easy to use API that also includes a scheduler, managed types and eventing subsystems.
There are some other really nice features for school children including the Kodu support for the BBC Micro:Bit. Check out this Kodu/Micro:bit feature demo.
So how are children going to get Started with the Micro:Bit
The obvious first way is using the BBC Micro:Bit to control robots in the game built with Kodu
You can also create displays on the BBC Micro:Bit LED set as well.
But where we are really interested is with projects like Bloodhound SSC and the Space Catapult Accelerator where you can attached sensors and other devices to transmit information outside the micro:Bit.
So Its exciting times the BBC and partners have been and will be continuing to run events around the UK teaching teachers about the Micro:Bit. Some teachers from these events are posting things they are learning, seeing and doing across a number of channels from Computing at Schools to personal blogs:
- Two teachers video summary with some demos
- Teacher blog post - BBC micro:bits – a computer for every year 7
- Touch Develop in 208 Bits - https://www.touchdevelop.com/docs/touch-develop-in-208-bits