You may remember the BBC Micro from the 1980s. A computer, that for many children here in the UK, was their very first introduction to computing. Perhaps building on that legacy for the digital age is the BBC Microbit, the most ambitious education initiative for 30 years, which will hopefully inspire a new generation of tech pioneers.
As we currently see a critical skills shortage within the technology sector in the UK, then the BBC and partners response to this was in 2016, when it was decided that the BBC Microbit should be given free to every year 7 child or equivalent across the UK as part of the BBCs’ Make it Digital initiative.
The concept behind the Microbit is to inspire young people to get creative with digital, with the main focus being in them developing skills within the context of STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and to encourage them to express themselves digitally and take ownership of their own projects. The potential of what can be created with this device are endless, from robots to musical instruments, practically any cool creation that can be dreamt up is possible.
The whole emphasis and philosophy behind the Microbit is to be classroom friendly for both children and teachers, enabling them to achieve practical results while maintaining a fun element to learning and after all, we are happy to give children paint brushes from a young age, without any experience, so we should be doing the same thing with technology in today’s modern digital climate.
With versatility in mind from this tiny programmable computer, the Microbit also connects to other devices, objects, kits and sensors and can also be used as a companion to Arduino and Raspberry Pi to name just a few, which in turn acts as a stepping stone to more complex learning.