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The BBC micro:bit is a small embedded system that can be used to help teach programming. A micro:bit should have been provided to all year 7 students during summer 2016, but they are also available to buy for anyone that didn't get one free.
It is not possible to program directly on the micro:bit. Instead a program is created on another computer and then uploaded to the micro:bit using a USB cable or wirelessly using BlueTooth.
There are a number of different programming languages supported, including Microsoft Block Editor and MicroPython. Using either of these the user programs can be created in a web browser then downloaded as an executable ready to be transferred to the micro:bit.
Below is a presentation I gave to STEM Ambassadors explaining about the micro:bit
Here is a vieo on getting started with MicroPython on the Microbit
As well as programming the micro:bit is a good platform for physical computing. It includes 3 input/output terminals that can be connected with crocodile clips and more if using an add-on connector. In addition to the example in the above presentation I have used the micro:bit to control disco lights.
I have also used the built in accelerometer to control a Raspberry Pi based robot. The micro:bit robot controller source code is available on github, although there is no error checking included so it does sometimes get confused. You can see the Robot in action here.
There's now a new version 2 of the Micro:bit. It's still the same basic design, but now includes more memory, a touch sensor and a built in speaker along with some other changes.