The generally accepted definition of a computer is any machine that can be programmed to carry out a set of algorithms and arithmetic instructions.
Pretty simple, right?
Well, definitional simplicity aside, the computers we think of today are so much more than that. And right now, we are going to talk about on in particular.
The micro:bit board
The micro:bit is a small programmable computer more formally known as a microcontroller development board. This board allows kids to create awesome inventions in the classroom and on the go!
In addition to creating basic programs, though, kids can also use the handy device to develop games and solve real-world problems.
That's right, even though the micro:bit is only about half the size of a credit card, it comes jam-packed with cool features!
In addition to the traditional components of a computer, the micro:bit comes with a few unique tools that are not normally found in a typical motherboard.
The radio transceiver is a two-way radio that combines a radio transmitter and receiver, meaning it can send and receive messages. The micro:bit comes with an onboard 2.4GHz transceiver, which enables it to communicate with other micro:bits across 101 channels.
Bluetooth is a form of wireless communication that allows data to be transferred over relatively short distances. From phones and speakers, to shoes and toasters, many things have the possibility of being Bluetooth-enabled, and this includes the micro:bit. Its onboard antenna allows it to connect with smartphones and tablets so kids can code on the go with the micro:bit app.
A magnetometer determines which way the micro:bit is facing. So, by setting up a degrees variable, creating a compass heading, and more, kids can create a compass program that actually runs on the micro:bit.
An accelerometer is an instrument used to measure acceleration, which is a change in speed over a period of time. These devices are most commonly found in vehicles, but almost all smartphones come with a built in accelerometer as well, which allows players to control games just by rotating the device.
The accelerometer constantly tracks the micro:bit's rotation. The acceleration values can be used to control game mechanics such as a battle ship's movement.
Inputs and Outputs
Inputs and outputs are the tools that allow a user to interact with a program. These include keyboards and mice (inputs) as well as screens and speakers (outputs). The micro:bit comes with two tactile buttons as its main inputs and a 5x5 LED matrix as its main output.
Again, computers come in many different forms, from phones to the small units inside a television. Computers consist of numerous components, each with its own specific function. The micro:bit, though, comes with numerous on board extras, including an accelerometer, radio transceiver, and Bluetooth antenna—allowing for