Learning computer coding at an early age

08 May 2017

Credit: microbit.org, found on www.bbc.co.uk
Credit: microbit.org, found on www.bbc.co.uk

The pocket-sized codeable computer with motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth technology.

The BBC micro:bit was given free to every child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK in 2016.
A collaboration between 29 partners, the BBC 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 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.

Coding in seconds

“We happily give children paint brushes when they’re young, with no experience – it should be exactly the same with technology," Sinead Rocks, Head of BBC Learning said.

"The BBC micro:bit is all about young people learning to express themselves digitally, and it’s their device to own.

"It’s our most ambitious education initiative for 30 years. And as the micro:bit is able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots and Raspberry Pis, this could be for the internet-of-things what the BBC Micro was to the British gaming industry.”

It measures 4cm by 5cm, is available in a range of colours, and designed to be fun and easy to use. It can be coded with something simple in seconds – like lighting up its LEDs or displaying a pattern – with no prior knowledge of computing.

It also connects to other devices, sensors, kits and objects, and is a companion to Arduino, Galileo, Kano, littleBits and Raspberry Pi, acting as a spring board to more complex learning.
Each element is completely programmable via easy-to-use software on a dedicated website microbit.org, which can be accessed from a PC, tablet or mobile.

A personal area on the website allows users to save and test creations in a simulator before they are transferred to the micro:bit, and the available tools scale to be as complex as ideas, imagination and skills require.


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