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BBC micro:bit at Bett 2016

Sinead Rocks

Director of Education, BBC

Today education and technology companies and thinkers from across the globe are gathering in London for what many consider to be one of the world's leading education events - the Bett Show.

For those of us involved in the BBC micro:bit initiative, it's an important milestone - a chance for us and our partners to fully show the attending teachers what our now finalised device can do.

We’ve got a great line-up of activities and for those visiting the show, we’re based in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) Village alongside partners Samsung, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and Kitronik.

At Bett, Samsung will be unveiling the official BBC micro:bit Android app. We know from our work so far that this is the type of thing that really enables children to let their creativity run wild. With it, you can code and control your BBC micro:bit from a phone or tablet. Or you can use your micro:bit to control your phone - the choice is yours...

We've worked with hundreds of children through the process of developing the micro:bit and so far, we've seen them use these tiny devices to control the music on their mobiles, to create remote controls for selfies and even to make their own video games. Their creativity has been inspiring and a constant source of motivation throughout an initiative that has been as challenging as it is ambitious.

The IET is providing teachers with free BBC micro:bit teaching resources and is working with the National Science Learning Network and the Design and Technology Association to offer teachers free training on how to use the micro:bit in their lessons.

And Kitronik will be demonstrating how other products can be connected to the BBC micro:bit, enabling it to interact with external sensors and devices. This will allow students using the device to learn coding skills in an engaging, practical and fun way maximising the opportunities for them to become inspired by the potential of coding.

We will also be joined by other partners involved in the project including Barclays, Bluetooth SIG, Code Kingdoms, MyMiniFactory and others who’ll be putting the BBC micro:bit through its paces.

And the BBC micro:bit will also appear on a number of partner stands across Bett, including Microsoft, ScienceScope and Tech Will Save Us, so you’ll have an opportunity to see the different partners involved and find out more about the variety of ways you can use the micro:bit in lessons and beyond.

There’s a lot going on and there’s a real sense of excitement building as we get closer to launch. We’re on track to begin delivery of up to 1m free BBC micro:bits for all year 7 pupils across the UK as part of the current term, and we will be in contact with schools to confirm exact dates.

Teachers have already been getting hands-on via the website and a range of events, and they’ll receive their devices just after half-term, ahead of the pupils. There are lots of resources already available at www.microbit.co.uk and many teachers have told us they’re ready to start teaching as soon as the devices arrive.

We’re also sending some additional devices to teachers in the rollout to allow even more children to get creative with the micro:bit. That’s something we’re really excited about, as it means teachers can extend their micro:bit lessons to pupils in years 8 and beyond and that in turn gives the many organisations involved with the BBC micro:bit an even better chance of inspiring an entire generation.

Sinead Rocks is Head of BBC Learning

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