The BBC has announced ambitious plans to give every year-seven child in the UK a free mini computer to help them learn more about coding.
Over a million 11- to 13-year-olds will receive a micro:bit (pictured) in October as part of the BBC’s 2015 Make it Digital initiative (www.bbc.co.uk/makeitdigital). The 4cm x 5cm board has 25 red LEDs which children can use to make games and display messages. Two programmable buttons allow the micro:bit to be used as a games controller, or to pause and play songs. Other features include Bluetooth and a built-in compass. The computer has been called the “spiritual successor” of the BBC Micro, the much-loved PC of the early 1980s. Partners on the project include Microsoft, Samsung, Barclays and British processor company ARM. BBC Director-General Tony Hall said the micro:bit will “inspire a new generation”.
To use it, he said, pupils just need “curiosity, creativity and imagination”. While the micro:bit may be 18 times more powerful than the BBC Micro, as well as 70 times smaller and 617 times lighter, it’s far less powerful than the Raspberry Pi 2, the world’s most popular mini PC. Indeed, it’s more of a controller for other devices, than a standalone PC, and could even be used as a companion for the Pi.
Later this summer the BBC will release software for the micro:bit via www. microbit.co.uk to let children program it using a PC, phone or tablet.