Project Details


Free coding machines for schoolchildren


Project URL:
Project Twitter: @microbit_edu

  • Digital Engagement
  • Education
  • Internet
  • Physical Computing

According to the Digital Skills Committee, the UK faces a critical skills shortage in the technology sector. Chaired by Baroness Morgan, the Committee’s 2015 report called for action, showing that up to 20% of the British population have never used the internet and that more than half of the country’s IT teachers did not have a post-A-level qualification relevant to IT. 

A simple piece of coding hardware launched by the BBC and its partners called micro:bit promises to address the issue. Measuring just 5x4 cm with two programmable buttons and an array of 25 LEDs, the micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that lets anyone code, customise and control devices like smartphones, computers, Arduino and Raspberry Pi. 

The gadget also has a built-in compass, on-board motion detector, Bluetooth and five input and output rings, and can be programmed using a range of coding systems, from the simple Blocks, to more advanced languages like Java and C++. 

A spiritual successor to the BBC’s Micro computer launched in the 1980s to help schools teach coding, the micro:bit is 70 times smaller and 18 times faster, and has been given free to one million Year 7 pupils across the UK. The original Micro produced a generation of programs that work in computing today, and the BBC hopes that the micro:bit will inspire a new generation to code. 

The project is already reaping benefits. Katie, a Year 7 pupil from Rishworth, West Yorkshire, designed a script that enabled the micro:bit to be sent into the stratosphere, taking digital images to chart its journey. Sounds exciting? If you’re not a Year 7 student but would like to try your hand at coding, the BBC will soon make the micro:bit available to buy online for just £13. 

Image courtesy of micro:bit

Last updated: 13th of September, 2016

Cookies on the Social Tech Guide

Social Tech Guide uses cookies to provide you with an enhanced user experience. To remove this message, please click continue.

Continue Learn more