Thursday, 19 March 2015

BBC trying to get kids excited about computer programming.

Building on the Acorn legacy of the 1980s, the BBC is giving away thousands of microcomputers in an effort to get kids into coding, programming and engineering.

Prototype of the Micro Bit  (image from BBC Tech)

The Micro Bit is a stripped down computer consisting of a PCB with LEDs and a micro USB connector. Similar to the hugely popular Raspberry Pi, the device will allow children to develop coding skills and teach them the basics of computer programming.

The computers are to be given to every child starting secondary school this September as part of the Make It Digital initiative supported by the BBC, as well as Microsoft, Google and Code Club. Aiming to address the shortfall in the UK of digital professionals, Make It Digital wants to get kids excited about programming and it is hoped giving them access to their own fully programmable and customisable computer will so just that.

The Micro Bit will be compatible with 3 coding languages, Touch Develop, Python and C++, it is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand and even includes a safety pin on the back to make it wearable! It will also have a Bluetooth link so it can be linked with other devices such as the Raspberry Pi or Arduino.

Keen to avoid any controversies as were associated with the launch of the Acorn in the 80s, the BBC is working with The Raspberry Pi Foundation to create learning resources and allow the devices to work collaboratively together. It is hoped that the simple Micro Bit will act as an entry level to more complex devices and software. As digital technology continues to grow and grow, the more kids that can get excited about programming is definitely a good thing. 

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