The Micro Bit is a small computer intended to help secondary school students learn programming, and it’s being given to students across the UK.
The device was first revealed by the BBC in May of 2015 and, after a few delays, the Micro Bit is rolling out into schools to get into the hands of schoolchildren. It can be plugged into a computer and programmed to do all sorts of stuff. Year Sevens in the UK, which is equal to about First Year in Ireland, have been given the device to take home.
Some managed to get their hands on it early and have showcased some of the really cool things that can be done with it. One school in Yorkshire sent theirs into the Stratosphere, the second level of the atmosphere, 32 kilometres above the ground.
A shot from the Micro Bits journey
One student wrote code that used a heat sensor to log changes in temperature and display it on the device’s LED screen. The class then attached a helium balloon to it and let it fly.
The Bloodhound project, a group with the goal of setting a new land speed record, also used the Micro Bit in an event. They’ve been inviting children to carve model cars out of foam and see them launched down a track, propelled by black powder rockets. One of the devices is fitted to each car and it records the top speed, average speed, and changes in thrust of the car. The children are then encouraged to improve upon their designs.
Lots of students were encouraged to participate
This isn’t the first time the BBC have launched a product with the aim of encouraging learning in tech. The Micro Bit is a kind of spiritual successor to the BBC Micro that was launched in the 1980’s. The Micro was a huge hit and introduced thousands of young people to programming. The BBC hope to achieve a similar success with the Micro Bit. There’s other similar devices too, like the Raspberry PI which can also do cool things, but the Micro Bit is friendlier to beginners.
At the moment the device is only available in UK schools, but there’s a lot of commercial interest in it so there’s a good chance it could be in retail stores both here and in Britain.