The IET and the micro:bit
What is the micro:bit?
The micro:bit is a powerful teaching and learning tool that helps younger children to start learning coding and programming, acting as a springboard for further learning and more advanced products such as Raspberry Pi, but is also a great resource for using in lessons across the curriculum including science, maths, D&T, art, music etc.
The BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that can be coded, customised and controlled to bring digital ideas, games and apps to life. Measuring 4cm by 5cm, and designed to be fun and easy to use, the micro:bit can create anything from games and animations to scrolling stories at school, at home and on the go - all that is needed is imagination and creativity! It’s incredibly versatile with several different coding platforms; Bluetooth connectivity and hard connections that enable a wide range of accessories to be used with it; a 25 LED display screen; and, an on-board accelerometer and compass that allows it to respond to movement.
Because the device is suitable for use by across the curriculum, across the age spectrum and for the hobbyist community, the micro:bit is available to purchase from various educational suppliers. There is a complete package of technical and educational support being provided by the Micro:bit Foundation www.microbit.org
The micro:bit ecosystem
Several suppliers are offering project kits, accessories and sensors for science experiments. The Micro:bit Foundation and its partners is providing a comprehensive range of curriculum-linked teaching resources to support the use of micro:bit in the classroom including Schemes of Work, lesson activities, project ideas, tutorials, quick start guides and teacher training.
Where did it come from?
With the UK facing a significant skills shortage, and an extra 1.4m digital professionals needed over the next five years, in 2015 the BBC started 'Make it Digital' - a national campaign to inspire a new generation of coders and programmers.
As part of the initiative, the BBC partnered with 29 organisations including the IET to create a small programmable hardware device – the micro:bit. A million of these devices were created and given away to every Year 7/S1 child in the UK, their educators and the informal learning community.
IET Chief Executive Nigel Fine said: “The digital world is evolving all the time - and with it, the demand for more young people with coding and digital skills. It’s great to be supporting BBC Make it Digital to promote the world of digital creativity and inspire the next generation to get involved with what is fast becoming one of our most exciting and creative industries.”
Introducing the BBC micro:bit: an IET perspective
The IET education team have created a number of resources and events to help you and your students get to grips with these new devices:
1. Teaching resources - production of a full suite of resources, each with accompanying video-related material from IET.tv. Find out more and download the resources.
2. Faraday Challenge Days - 140 events taking place between October 2016 and June 2017 aimed at Year 8 students and their equivalents throughout the whole of the UK. These off-timetable STEM activity days aim to encourage creativity, team working, problem solving and the application of the technology to real-life situations. See all host schools and league tables.