micro:bot kit - The BBC mcro:bit robot add on pack

Read all about it: BBC micro:bit lands today!

Monday 21st March

We’ve been talking about it a lot, and it’s finally here! The BBC micro:bit will be in the hands of 11 & 12-year-olds across the UK starting from today.

WHAT IS IT?
The micro:bit is the most ambitious education project that BBC has embarked on in 30 years. The BBC micro:bit is a tech tool, like a Swiss Army knife, that can be applied to almost any problem or project you can imagine. It’s being distributed to 1 million young people in schools across the UK.

Don’t be fooled by its micro size. The BBC micro:bit is jam-packed with cool features. It is a small palm sized micro controller that has enough features to get any teenager into coding and making. 25 LED matrix screen, 2 buttons, compass, accelerometer and Bluetooth. As well as this, it has 3 PINs so that you can connect to external inputs and outputs like thermometers, lights and  buzzers. The LED matrix can even be programmed to act as a light sensor. This is a ‘My First Micro:controller” that neatly bridges the gap between screen based block coding, like Scratch, and programming physical projects. We have turned it into a pocket pet with the most voluminous Sugru hair.

HOW ARE TECH WILL SAVE US INVOLVED?

Our role in the project was to represent the 12-year-old child in the design and engineering process. We took the ambitions and interest of young people and placed them at the centre of the process of designing the micro:bit with the engineering partners. This allowed us to make difficult decisions around the functionality and the look of this little tool. We made the front of the device the “project” side to look and feel more friendly, while the back of the device is the “technology” side and is more didactic and descriptive. This meant that we designed the technology for the end user — not focusing on every possibility, but on the core elements that could become the building blocks of great learning experiences. So the micro:bit is a platform designed for young people and not a platform designed for engineers. 

Our focus was on making this little tool something not only for the classroom but something that kids would take home & hack and create with.

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WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Cathy Davidson, a scholar of learning technology, concluded that 65% of children entering grade school this year will end up working in careers that haven’t even been invented yet. The future for the next generation is not starting Facebook, it is inventing a job and having the digital and engineering skills do this. It is about finding their passions and interest so they have jobs with tech at the heart of them that they actually love.

We don’t know what every young person is going to become passionate about, but we believe if parents and kids can have more opportunities to make, explore, and have fun with technology, these creative experiences will give them the confidence to become lifelong learners and invent their futures. We think kids will invent future jobs based on playing with Minecraft, making thirsty plant detectors in their kitchens, and designing their own games controlled by their micro:bits. This is why Tech Will Save Us is focusing on sparking the creative imagination of young people using hands-on technology.

BBC microbit at home

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?
We have lots of fun activities over on our BBC micro:bit making platform make.techwillsaveus.com

You can find out more about this campaign over on the BBC Make It Digital site. bbc.co.uk/makeitdigital

If you’re not an 11 year old who goes to school in the UK, chances are you won’t be receiving a BBC micro:bit for a while. Still interested in the world of programmable electronics? Check out our Start Arduino Kit, it’s the perfect introduction to the world of Arduino.