BBC Micro Bit: the future is in our hands

Young reporters from Plashet School looking at how the BBC Micro Bit can be used to programme toy cars Image copyright BBC School Report
Image caption Young reporters from Plashet School looking at how the BBC Micro Bit can be used to programme toy cars

The BBC has unveiled the new BBC Micro Bit at a launch in London - we were there to cover the event for BBC News School Report.

We joined lots of people in the historic Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House to hear more about it and why one is going to be given to every 11 or 12 year old child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK.

Tony Hall, the Director-General of the BBC, spoke to the visitors and said that the BBC had worked with a range of partners to help make the Micro Bit come to life.

Image copyright BBC School Report
Image caption The Micro Bit can be used to make lots of things - including a guitar!

He said it was a "collaborative adventure" and seemed excited for everyone to see what the Micro Bit could do.

In the 1980s, the BBC produced something called the BBC Micro and lots of people who attended the launch remembered it and said how it had inspired them to get into coding. Now they wanted to inspire the next generation with the BBC Micro Bit.

The Micro Bit is 18 times faster than the BBC Micro, 70 times smaller and 617 times lighter - which is amazing!

Another interesting thing is that it's one item that you can do so much with - you can be creative and use it to do all kinds of cool things. It's nice that it is educational but also fun.

Everyone at the launch watched a video of young people using the Micro Bit - some of us had been involved in the filming but we were so busy writing, we almost missed our appearance in the film! However, our teacher Ms English told us to look up so we could see our big moment!

Following the presentations all the journalists and visitors went into a special room where everyone could get their hands on the Micro Bit and see some of the things it can be coded to do- it was really crowded and buzzing with noise and excitement.

There was a great atmosphere as we were all learning and trying things out together.

Technology Will Save Us, an organisation that has been involved in the development of the Micro Bit, showed how you could make your Micro Bit into a score board for a game of flick football or basketball. It was a lot of fun trying it out.

Image copyright BBC School Report
Image caption The Micro Bit being used as a score board for a game of flick football

We also met James Devine from the University of Lancaster. James has only just graduated with a degree in computer science but he's working on the Micro Bit project. He showed us how we could use a mobile phone to make a toy truck move using the Micro Bit.

It was really interesting to hear that he got interested in coding when he was young like us. He loved computer games and wanted to discover how they work - now he's about to do a PhD, which is pretty impressive!

Image copyright BBC School Report
Image caption We were engrossed by the Micro Bit's possibilities as James Devine showed us how it connects with his mobile phone.

The Micro Bit itself will start to arrive in schools in the Autumn. There will be resources online so teachers can help their pupils work out how to use their Micro Bit.

It will be programmable by going onto a special website where every pupil will have their own area and there are five separate languages you can code it with.

We found it interesting to hear that the Micro Bit will belong to the children themselves not the schools but they also announced that there is going to be a not-for-profit company so they can be licensed and sold in the future so everyone can get one too!

One thing we really liked was how friendly everyone was and the adults kept asking us about what we thought of it, including Rory Cellan-Jones who recorded with some of us for World Service's Tech Tent programme and BBC Click.

We're a bit disappointed that we won't received Micro Bit in September as we're going to be in year 8 by then - but we will be reporting on when they arrive and how students in year 7 will be using as part of our School Report work next year!

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