Getting Started with Micro:bit, Episode 1

The BBC micro:bit is being released in the United States! I'll show you how to get started with it using Microsoft's MakeCode block editor.

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Two weeks ago, we announced a pre-sale of the BBC micro:bit. In preparation for actually carrying and selling the cute board from across the pond, we're creating a few video tutorials for getting started with programming using the online Microsoft MakeCode block editor.

One of the coolest features of the micro:bit is its ability to be programmed with a number of languages:

  • Microsoft MakeCode block editor --- Similar to Scratch and Blockly, users can drag and drop blocks to create programs. Teachers, especially, have experienced success using block-based programming languages in schools and clubs, including elementary schools.
  • JavaScript --- As it turns out, the block editor in MakeCode is interpreted to JavaScript on the back end. If you click "JavaScript" at the top of the page in MakeCode, you can see and edit the JavaScript version of your program.
  • MicroPython --- MicroPython is a subset of the Python language and was developed specifically for microcontrollers. If you're not a fan of online editors, I've had success with the mu editor for creating MicroPython programs.
  • C++ --- The micro:bit is mbed-enabled, which means programs are compiled to a .hex file that you copy and paste into the root directory of the micro:bit, which enumerates as a mass storage device on your computer. It's a pretty seamless and slick process, and if you want to get your hands dirty with C++, you can use the mbed "Compiler" editor to write code for the micro:bit.

The micro:bit was built for the classroom, and teachers have seen some success using the board in their classes. However, that doesn't mean it's not fun for nonstudents. It's packed with sensors and features that make building projects engaging and straightforward.

If you're looking for a getting started guide in written form, we've got you covered:

Getting Started with the micro:bit

September 2, 2021

The BBC micro:bit is a compact, powerful programming tool that requires no software installation. Read on to learn how to use it YOUR way!

Have you seen success with block-based coding with younger students? Any tips and tricks for teaching it? Please share in the comments below.

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