BBC micro:bit review

BBC micro:bit Go


The BBC micro:bit Go is a small microprocessor; it encompasses a Bluetooth, compass, accelerometer and general I/O. On the front of the micro there is a 5x5 LED grid as well as 2 push buttons and solder pads for GPIO.

There is a simple get started guide included with the kit from Little Bird which has very simple instructions to get the board up and running. The board is pre-programed with a simple piece of code which demonstrates some of the boards capabilities. To begin programming, head over to the BBC micro:bit website, there are list of ideas for projects, instructions to aid teachers as well as two very well setup coding interfaces. One which allows block type and JavaScript programming, similar to the scratch interface which is perfect for the beginner level programmers such as students in stage 3 / 4. BBC also include a python editor for the micro:bit which allows for some sophisticated code and also allows for a simple path to learn how to code in python. The python suite is better suited for students in stage 4 / 5.


I was able to easily get the micro up and running with a quick read of the guide. The examples included in the website aided me a lot in getting a grip on how to program the micro:bit. The style of block programming is very straight forward and self-explanatory and allows for some fairly complex code such as Conway’s game of life which is included in the examples. Through the block programming interface, I was able to create a simple calculator through using button A as a scroller and button B as a selector. This was a simple task on the block editor but when I moved to the python editor, I found it a lot easier to keep the script looking neat and tidy… Thus only use the block editor for simple programs or students / young kids might get overwhelmed with the amount of “blocks” there would be over the screen, there is also a lack of examples for python… But it seems that most python code can run on it (I have not stumbled upon any that has not) thus you would be able to use examples python provides. I was also able to use the micro:bit as a compass (this worked with surprising accuracy) and as a crude clock which scrolled the time… this could be used a simple wrist watch.

I have achieved a very small amount of what is possible on the micro:bit. This is an excellent little board which would be great at getting kids and students into programming. The blocks interface is very simple and easy to use with clear instructions on what to do. There is also the possibility to get kids and students into one of the most powerful programming language of python. The board can handle some pretty complex maths skills. I was able to make a program which crudely graphed some simple functions (e.g. f(x)=2x+10) through the python interface. Overall this board is great for beginners as well as the intermediate level who want to improve their coding skills. 


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