Today we have a new gadget to show you. It’s called the micro:bit. This is a device made by the BBC with the help of several top companies like Microsoft and Samsung. The micro:bit aims to enable kids aged 8 and above to get started with programming with the help of fun and exciting exercises. It has already been deployed in schools in several countries around the globe and has proven to be a very successful product. In addition to coding it also helps kids to learn about basic electronics by adding components to it like LEDs and resistors.
I want to show you how easy it is to make a program with micro:bit and get it running. But first let’s take a look at this device itself. It’s tiny, but it packs in a lot of options including a compass to know your direction, a temperature sensor to measure the temperature of the room and an accelerometer to check the orientation of the device.
Also, there are 25 LEDs on the front of the device which act as the screen. Take a look at these pins here on the bottom. These can be used to connect different electrical components like LEDs and resistors. Also, they can be used to connect several add-ons like game controllers and speakers. The micro:bit can connect to either a smartphone or tablet app through Bluetooth or a computer with the help of a USB cable.
Now let’s have a look at the software features. One of the main advantages of the micro:bit is that it can be used to help children learn how to program. For example, let’s look at a quick example of how the micro:bit can be used to create an animation of a beating heart with the help of a basic program.
It’s easy to code with Micro:Bit. Just head over to MakeCode.Microbit.org and you can start programming the device right away. To send the program to Micro:bit, just connect it to the USB port on your computer and it will show up as a storage drive. Once you’ve downloaded your program to your computer, simply copy the file over to Micro:bit.
Just open the programming interface and take out the forever block. Now add the icon of the heart in the same block. Now, we can add the smaller heart next so that the heart can be shown as beating when it switches back and forth between the two images. This is an example of a loop that will run forever. This program can now be downloaded to the computer and then uploaded simply by transferring it to the micro:bit, which shows up as a USB drive. Now, you may be able to see that the micro:bit’s display has the image of a beating heart on it (onscreen: video of beating heart animation shown on the micro:bit screen.
Even if you don’t have a micro:bit with you, you can still use the simulator on the left side of the website to see how the code would work. We’ve added a link below in the description for the website, go ahead and check it out!
One cool activity we can do with the Micro:bit is create music and then hook up the device to a speaker to play it out loud. So let’s jump in here and start making some music. First, grab an “on button A” block and drag it in the workspace. Attach a “play tone” block from the music drawer. Choose a note and a length, then duplicate that block and change that note and length. Repeat this process until you have a melody that you’re happy with. There are also premade melodies in this block where you can choose one to your liking. I put this inside the “on button B pressed” block. We can even make it more fun by putting “show LED’s” blocks inside a forever loop to make images flash on the screen while playing your music. I made a simple pattern that alternates to keep it interesting.
Now it’s time to hook up a speaker. First, you’ll need a speaker (or headphones) with an eighth-inch jack and a pair of crocodile clips. Take one crocodile clip and connect it onto the GND pin here. Connect the other end to the base of the jack. Now take the other crocodile clip and connect one side to the 0 pin and the other side to the tip of the jack.
Now when we press either button, we have music that can play! You can get as creative as you want with the music notes as well as the images you put on screen. Have a blast!
Now that you have an idea of what the micro:bit is, let’s look at some of the amazing possibilities that it presents as a learning platform. It can be used to create a combination lock that only unlocks a door if the correct pattern is entered, it can also be used to create a piano out of fruits! You can even use the integrated temperature sensor to turn the device into a digital thermometer! These are just a few of the amazing possibilities that this incredible device presents. The learning outcome of all of these exercises is that your child will learn how to code without having to go through any boring tutorials! Also, we at Coding Butterfly will be starting our Growth Path program to help children learn coding through a variety of fantastic tools.
Until next time. Keep in coding!