The BBC Micro:bit

JB Gill with a BBC micro:bit

Meet the BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized programmable computer that's helping the nation's secondary school students get more involved in the world of coding.

A collaboration between 29 partners, the micro:bit is the BBC's most ambitious education initiative in 30 years, with an ambition to inspire digital creativity and develop a new generation of tech pioneers.

The UK currently faces a critical skills shortage in the technology sector and the BBC and partners aim to help change that.

In the 1980s, the BBC Micro introduced many children to computing for the first time and the BBC micro:bit, part of the BBC’s 2015 Make it Digital initiative, will build on the legacy of that project for the digital age.

It aims to inspire young people to get creative with digital and develop core skills in science, technology and engineering.

The current home of the micro:bit is now run by the non-profit organisation The micro:bit Foundation, taking the device to schools and maker spaces beyond the British Isles.

What we've been up to

Since the official launch of student micro:bits in March 2016, we've delivered micro:bits to students at over five thousand schools and hundreds of home schools, racked up a collective code editor use time of 8.3 years (and counting!) and we’ve been teaming up with some awesome BBC brands.

With collaborations with CBBC drama Wolfblood and Sunday night favourite Robot Wars under our belt, our latest partnership is with Doctor Who. The Live Lesson is a definite watch, and we hope you’ll follow along with our series of inventive ICT lesson plans. It’s learning ... with a storyline!

An ever-growing library of micro:bit activities

Not only does the micro:bit website offer over 250 activities, lesson plans and resources - you can find a list of all of our activities here- Computing At School is fostering its own growing collection of resources made by and for teachers.

Even for those who like to jump straight in with our coding editors, we recommend that you give these diverse resources a look through. You may find something that will kick-start your imagination!

Meet our code editors

We have two shiny new code editors available for use straight away. For those who don't need any extra instruction and just want to get stuck in, you can visit the Create Code page, choose your weapon and get to work.

  • PXT: Short for Personal eXperience Toolkit, it’s a Javascript editor that can switch between text-only and Blocks on the fly. It’s an excellent way to get started.

  • Python Editor 2.0: It may be text-only, but python can be fun and easy to learn. Astound people with speech synthesis, radio functions and more!

Don’t worry if you’re more familiar with our old code editors, they’re still around to use if you’d like.

  • Block Editor: Perfect for complete beginners to coding. Snap blocks of code together, in a similar manner to Scratch.

  • Touch Develop: The big sister to Block Editor, its on-screen keyboard system manages detail and customisation the Block Editor cannot.

  • Code Kingdoms: Jump into Java! Features both a drag-and-drop system and text-only coding, making it as advanced as you need it to.

  • Python Editor: Embrace a coding freedom that the other editors can't match! Completely text only, it’s a little trickier to master but still simple to learn.

Content for both teachers and students

For Teachers, there's a whole section of the website dedicated to teaching resources and other handy info about the world of the micro:bit. We recommend checking back on the Teach page regularly to find new lesson plans, micro:bit events and coding tools to give you the cutting edge in the classroom.

For Children, the front page of the website is their oyster. We're constantly updating the homepage with new activities, often themed around hit BBC shows and major events. For a more in-depth look at what’s on offer, the Ideas page is the best way of seeing projects to try in class, in code clubs or just at home.

What's in a micro:bit?

Key features of the BBC micro:bit include:

  • 25 red LEDs to light up, flash messages, create games and invent digital stories.

  • Two programmable buttons activated when pressed. Useful for anything and everything, from using the micro:bit as a games controller to pausing or skipping songs on a playlist.

  • On-board motion detector or “accelerometer” that can detect movement and tell other devices you’re on the go. Featured actions include shake, tilt and freefall. Turn the micro:bit into a spirit level, light it up when something is moved and use it for motion-activated games.

  • A built-in compass or "magnetometer" to sense which direction you’re facing, your movement in degrees, and where you are. Includes an in-built magnet, and can sense certain types of metal.

  • Bluetooth Smart Technology to connect to the internet and interact with the world around you. Connect the micro:bit to other micro:bits, devices, kits, phones, tablets, cameras and everyday objects all around. Share creations or join forces to create multi-micro:bit masterpieces. You can even take a selfie.

  • Five Input and Output (I/O) rings to connect the micro:bit to devices or sensors using crocodile clips or 4mm banana plugs. Use the micro:bit to send commands to and from the rings, to power devices like robots and motors.

First conceived by BBC Learning in 2012, and initially developed together with the BBC’s award-winning R&D department, the scale and scope of this unique initiative has only been made possible by anunprecedented collaboration between 29 international organisations, pioneering start-ups and transformative education organisations.