Students in UK to Get Free Arduino-Like Computers from BBC
The BBC recently unveiled the Micro Bit, a computer that the makers hope will inspire the next generation of programmers for the Internet of Things.
All kids in UK Year Seven, or around ages 11-12, will be given the chance to have one of the microcomputers at the beginning of the school year, in October. The computer has a web-based programming interface built by Microsoft. It is a collaboration of the BBC and 29 partners hoping to raise interest among young British kids in computers and programming.
The computer is more of a tiny little board than it is an actual computer since it doesn’t have interface with a video screen the way a Raspberry Pi or a Beagle Bone Black does. However, the computer does have various purposes. Early users of the device believe it could be modified into a gaming controller, a controller for a DVD player, or other things. It has a light panel on it which can be programmed. But the baseline use for it is to teach the basics of programming to students for a very low cost. Students can use standard programming languages to code light sequences or expand the capabilities of the device.
Its specifications are impressive given that it is only four by five centimeters in size. It has a mini Bluetooth antenna and input/output connectors for expansion. It can be powered by a small battery pack or by a USB connection that it also sports. Students who learn from a device such as this can easily move on to things like the Arduino.
The program harkens back to thirty years ago when the BBC had its BBC Micro computer for kids of a similar age. The computers were extremely popular, and some schools waited eagerly for months.