From BBC Micro to Micro Bit mini-computer - teenagers test out new gadget

Sinead Rocks, head of BBC Learning, shows the Micro Bit to MJ and Joyce Image copyright BBC SCHOOL REPORT
Image caption Sinead Rocks, head of BBC Learning, shows the Micro Bit to MJ and Joyce

Normally on a Thursday morning we'd be in Computer Science; instead we were at the launch of BBC Make It Digital!

The boss of the BBC said that Make It Digital is for people who are interested in doing business in the digital world. The BBC is working with around 50 organisations like Google, Apps for Good and TeenTech.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall said: "We need the best talent to ensure the future of digital creativity... the BBC will be working with millions of young people."

There will be 30 education events helping to teach children to code all over the country.

We spoke to Sinead Rocks, the head of BBC Learning, and she showed us a prototype of the Micro Bit.

It was really exciting to see the Micro Bit. It's going to be given away to all schools.

Image copyright BBC School report
Image caption The Micro Bit will go out to every Year 7 pupil in the UK

When we were holding the Micro Bit it didn't really feel like it could do anything, it looked hopeless.

But when you really started to see what it could do. You realised that it was so small but it could do so many different things especially when the lady demonstrating it to us wrote 'School Report' and it started showing on the Micro Bit - and it was also easy to use by the looks of it.

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Coding 'crucial for future jobs'

It's really cool and we think a lot of young people will like that.

Sinead told us: "We are going to send a Micro Bit to every Year 7 pupil in every school across the UK. It enables people to begin to learn how to code.

"It's pulling a different face at me, you put your name in it, it can flash and you can do more and more things with it the more you learn to code.

"That gives you the chance to start understanding what coding is all about.

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'We taught whole generation to code' - David Allen

"I think that there are so many exciting things happening in technology and I think coding is at the very heart of that.

"Having an understanding of that can give you way more opportunities in life and the opportunity to just create things and invent things and be a part of the future.

"I think it's really important for people across the UK to be across that because otherwise people in other countries are going to get better at it and we are going to be left behind."

At the launch they showed some videos about all the different programmes that are part of Make It Digital including about how to report with Data Pic.

In one of the films, singer Will.i.am gave a great quote: "Coding unlocks any problem."

Image copyright BBC SCHOOL REPORT
Image caption The original BBC Computer was in schools years before Joyce and MJ were born

We also interviewed David Allen, who more than 30 years ago got the BBC Computer into schools. Our teacher remembers using one!

He told us: "We really sort of started a whole generation of people learning to code, which is why it's so important really today to see the whole thing really in a way being done again.

"Mrs Thatcher supported the project and put computers into every school, so 85% of primary schools had BBC Micros and 65%, I think, of secondary schools had them and colleges and so on and so forth. So it was a very important machine at the time and it's still going!

"It's terribly important for the economy of the country that people should really know deep down how to make computers do things. They can make a lot of money for the country."

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Radio 1's Gemma Cairney says coding is cool!

We also spoke to Ben Cooper, Controller of Radio One.

Gemma Cairney, who presents the early Breakfast show on Radio 1, was also there.

"I'm excited about what's going to happen with the digital world and the digital future," she told us.

"Coding is going to make you so powerful - it's as simple as that!

"I think it's so cool and I'm a bit jealous because that just wasn't an option when I was younger.

"I'm not that much older than you but things change every second.

We found all this really interesting and inspiring and we are now going to start planning to create a Data Pic about Make It Digital for News Day!

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