Make it Digital

BBC launches flagship UK-wide initiative to inspire a new generation with digital technology

The Micro Bit

Date: 12.03.2015     Last updated: 02.10.2015 at 17.15
Category: Make It Digital

**Note added July 2015**

A Media Pack about the BBC micro:bit, including technical specifications, partner info, teaching resources and legacy aims, is available here: bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/microbit

A major BBC project, developed in pioneering partnership with over 25 organisations, will give a personal coding device free to every child in year 7 across the country - 1 million devices in total.

Still in development and nicknamed the Micro Bit,* it aims to give children an exciting and engaging introduction to coding, help them realise their early potential and, ultimately, put a new generation back in control of technology. It will be distributed nationwide from autumn 2015. 

The Micro Bit project builds on the legacy of the seminal BBC Micro, which was put into the majority of schools in the 1980s and was instrumental in the careers of so many of today’s technology pioneers. Computing and digital technology has become ubiquitous since then, but for many, the emphasis has shifted from creation to consumption. The Micro Bit, and the wider BBC Make it Digital initiative, aims to help redress the balance.

The device

The Micro Bit will be a small, wearable device with an LED display that children can programme in a number of ways. It will be a standalone, entry-level coding device that allows children to pick it up, plug it into a computer and start creating with it immediately.

It is designed to be a starting point to get younger children interesting in coding so they can move onto other, more complex devices in future. And the Micro Bit can even connect and communicate with these other devices, including Arduino, Galileo, Kano and Raspberry Pi, as well as other Micro Bits. This helps a child’s natural learning progression and gives them even more ways of expressing their creativity.

Supporting the curriculum

BBC and its partners recognised that a hands-on learning experience could help children grasp the new Computing curriculum in ways that other software and traditional classroom learning couldn’t. In particular, the Micro Bit can help learners develop an intuitive understanding of physical concepts in technology and computing, which helps develop complex thinking, analytical and problem-solving strategies.

Early feedback from teachers has shown that it encourages independent learning, gives pupils a strong sense of achievement, and can inspire those who are not usually interested in computers to be creative with it.

Inspirational broadcast content on CBBC and elsewhere, live BBC Learning lessons and other educational online content from the BBC and partners will help support teachers, parents and children to get the most out of the device.

Partnerships

More than 25 partners are already involved in this pioneering partnership and their drive, expertise, financial support and passion to inspire young people’s digital creativity has made the project possible. In addition to the formal partners, the BBC anticipates working with a wider network of informal partners to magnify the educational impact of the project.

Formal product partners who are taking the lead on design manufacture and distribution include:

  • ARM
  • Barclays
  • element14
  • Freescale Semiconductor
  • Lancaster University
  • Microsoft
  • Nordic Semiconductor
  • Samsung
  • ScienceScope
  • Technology Will Save Us

Formal product champions involved in outreach and educational resources include:

  • Bright Future
  • CISCO
  • Code Club
  • CoderDojo
  • Code Kingdoms
  • Creative Digital Solutions
  • CultureTECH
  • Decoded
  • Institution of Engineering and Technology
  • Kitronik
  • London Connected Learning Centre
  • Open University
  • Python Software Foundation
  • STEMNET
  • TeenTech
  • Tinder Foundation

*The project is still in development and the final name, appearance and specification is likely to change