The BBC unveiled their final design for the micro: bit computer, a tiny computer that is to help children to learn to program at an early age. The Micro: Bit computers hold a Raspberry Pi feel within them. BBC are planning to hand out these tiny computers to one million school children in October this year around UK. This will enable the children to train their programming sense at an early age.
Head of BBC Learning, Sinead Rocks said, “We happily give children paint brushes when they’re young, with no experience – it should be exactly the same with technology, it’s our most ambitious education initiative for 30 years. And as the micro: bit is able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots and Raspberry Pis, this could be for the internet-of-things what the BBC Micro was to the British gaming industry.”
The final design differs from the prototype that was unveiled in March, this final design holds an array of 25 red LED lights that are arranged in a 5 x 5 array and are programmable, a built-in motion sensor and two buttons to program with. Unlike the previous version, this version will use an add-on power pack instead of a watch battery. So that the micro: bit can function even without a power socket nearby. AA batteries will be installed in this add-on power pack, which makes the micro:bit devices simpler to power, but this also makes them a little hefty for a wearable device.
The device also features a built-in compass (magnetometer) so the device will be able to tell which direction the user is facing. It will also feature five I/O rings that will enable the user to connect the micro: bit to other devices using cables. Bluetooth connectivity will also be available to connect to other devices wirelessly.
Children that will be receiving the device will be able to implement simple codes provided at the micro: bit website, this will train them to virtually test drive their creations and hence get a better understanding of coding. Sample projects include usage of the LEDs to create different patterns and letters etc.
BBC are planning to hand out micro: bit computers in October to children age 11 and 12, currently enrolled in Year 7 in school for free. This has been possible due to the courtesy of a number of partners in the project, including Microsoft and Samsung. After this initial handouts, the computers will be available in the UK and elsewhere for purchase by the end of the year. Pricing for the micro: bit will be announced later.