Free technology for schools

It may not be long before you hear an addition to your child’s vocabulary. The word ‘micro:bit’ is soon to invade millions of households across the country. But fear not, we are not being taken over by a technologically advanced civilisation, in fact, the BBC is about to provide a pocket-sized codeable computer for free to every child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK.

In a hugely ambitious move, the BBC has collaborated with 29 partners to develop the Micro:bit to inspire digital creativity and encourage a new generation of tech pioneers amongst our children.

The key features of the micro:bit include:

  • 25 red LEDs to light up, flash messages, create games and invent digital stories.
  • Two programmable buttons so that the micro:bit can be used as a games controller or remote control device
  • On-board motion detector so the micro:bit knows you are on the move and can all be used as a spirit level or for motion activated games.
  • A built-in compass.
  • Bluetooth Smart Technology to connect to the internet or other micro:bits so that creations can be shared or joined to create multi-micro:bit programmes.

You can also connect your micro:bit to phones, tablets, cameras and other everyday objects.

The micro:bit aims to inspire young people to get creative with digital and develop core skills in science, technology and engineering.

Once distributed the 4cm by 5cm micro computer can be coded in seconds and act as a spring board to more complex programming outcomes.

With a dedicated website, teachers and school children will have instant access to ideas and tutorials about their micro:bit technology.

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

“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.”

So listen out for your children talking about their awesome micro:bit!


Emma Williams