Get Your Own Tiny Computer: UK Giving Away Thousands at Low Cost
The UK is set to give away nearly 700,000 BBC micro:bit computers to every primary school in the country for free, worth millions of dollars. This initiative is aimed at supporting the country’s ambitions to become a global tech superpower. The partnership behind this scheme is BBC Micro:bit – the next-gen, which comprises BBC Education, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, and Nominet, the company responsible for the.UK domain name registry. This builds on the original initiative that gave one million micro:bit computers to every year 7 student in the UK from October 2015 onwards.
From September 2023 to March 2024, teachers can register their schools on the BBC micro:bit website to get classroom sets of 30 micro:bit computers and accompanying teaching resources. Starting next year, children as young as eight will be able to learn coding on this platform in an effort to better prepare the next generation for the challenges ahead.
According to market research conducted in 2022, teachers responsible for teaching computing in the majority of UK primary schools feel overwhelmingly unprepared and lack confidence when it comes to teaching digital skills, with no proper background on the subject. The goals of this STEM campaign are to increase teacher knowledge and confidence and empower educators with a toolkit of quality, proven devices, lesson plans, and inspiring ideas.
The micro:bit, currently in version 2, is about half the size of a business card and is powered by an ARM Cortex-M4. Although it may be considered a rival to the Raspberry Pi, they focus on different audiences. It features accelerometer, temperature and magnetometer sensors, a microphone, a buzzer, three push buttons, a 25-LED display, and Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Anyone can purchase a BBC micro:bit kit for just under $35 from Amazon, which comes with a single-board computer, a USB cable, and a battery holder with two AAA batteries. The UK version is available from the same supplier for £22. Larger and more complete packs are also available. The original micro:bit was reviewed in 2016 and found to be an excellent way to get into coding. However, it looks nothing like the original BBC Micro but more like other single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi.