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Home >BBC to give all year 7 pupils free pocket-sized computer

BBC to give all year 7 pupils free pocket-sized computer

08 July 2015

Addressing the technology sector skills shortage, the BBC is to give a free pocket-sized codeable computer with motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth technology to every year 7 pupil across the UK.

Measuring 4 x 5cm, the BBC micro:bit is is available in a range of colours, and designed to be fun and easy to use. It can, says the BBC, be coded with something simple in seconds – like lighting up its LEDs or displaying a pattern – with no prior knowledge of computing.

Key features of the micro:bit include:

  • 25 red LEDs to light up, flash messages, create games and invent digital stories.
  • Two programmable buttons activated when pressed. Use the micro:bit as a games controller. Pause or skip songs on a playlist.
  • On-board motion detector or "accelerometer” that can detect movement and tell other devices you’re on the go. Featured actions include shake, tilt and freefall. Turn the micro:bit into a spirit level. Light it up when something is moved. Use it for motion-activated games.
  • A built-in compass or "magnetometer” to sense which direction you’re facing, your movement in degrees, and where you are. Includes an in-built magnet, and can sense certain types of metal.
  • Bluetooth Smart Technology to connect to the internet and interact with the world around you. Connect the micro:bit to other micro:bits, devices, kits, phones, tablets, cameras and everyday objects all around. Share creations or join forces to create multi-micro:bit masterpieces. Take a selfie. Pause a DVD or control your playlist.
  • Five Input and Output (I/O) rings to connect the micro:bit to devices or sensors using crocodile clips or 4mm banana plugs. Use the micro:bit to send commands to and from the rings, to power devices like robots and motors.

Arriving in schools in October, BBC micro:bit builds on the legacy of the BBC Micro which introduced many children to computing for the first time during the 1980s. It aims to inspire young people to get creative with digital and develop core skills in science, technology and engineering, and will also be made available commercially later in 2015.