The BBC is planning on giving away specially designed mini computers to 11 year olds across the UK in its push to make the UK more digital.
BBC gives away Micro Bit mini computer
Around one million Micro Bits – a stripped down PC similar to the Raspberry Pi, will be given to all pupils who start secondary school in the autumn. The broadcaster will also launch a season of special coding programmes and activities, including a drama based on Grand Theft Auto and a documentary on Bletchley Park.
The BBC says the initiative is part of a push to increase digital skills amongst young people and help to fill the digital skills gap, as the UK faces significant skills shortages with 1.3 million digital professionals needed in the next five years.
The BBC is joined by Microsoft, BT, Google, Code Club, TeenTech and Young Rewired State to try and address the shortfall. The directory general of the BBC, Tony Hall, explained why the BBC is getting involved.
“This is exactly what the BBC is all about – bringing the industry together on an unprecedented scale and making a difference to millions,” he said.
“Just as we did with the BBC Micro in the 1980s, we want to inspire the digital visionaries of the future. Only the BBC can bring partners together to attempt something this ambitious, this important to Britain’s future on the world stage.”
Hopefully, the Micro Bit will encourage kids to get more involved in coding and programming. The BBC Micro computer, which was launched in the ’80s, had a huge role to play in making computing more mainstream.
The BBC apparently does not see the Micro Bit as a rival to the Raspberry Pi, but hopes it will become a springboard to those more powerful and complex machines. The new machine is in the prototype stage, and the BBC is working together with partners including ARM, Microsoft and Samsung, to finalise the end product. When it launches in the autumn, it will support three programming languages – Touch develop, Python, and C++.
Children will be able to create text via LED lights, and use it to create basic games, and it will also have a Bluetooth link so it can be connected to other devices, such as a Raspberry Pi.