BBC micro:bit hits UK in July
The BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized programmable device that can be coded and controlled to bring ideas, games, and projects to life, is being made available to buy in the UK by element14, manufacturing partner for the BBC micro:bit project. The widespread availability follows the gifting of the BBC micro:bit to up to one million school children in Year 7 (or equivalent) across the UK, to inspire them toget creative with coding, programming and digital technology.
The BBC micro:bit can be pre-ordered from element14, the Microsoft Store,Technology Will Save Us, Kitronic and Sciencescope and other resellers. Prices range from £12.99 for a single BBC micro:bit; £14.99 for the starter kit ‘BBC micro:bit Go’, which includes a BBC micro:bit, mini USB, battery pack and four project ideas to get users started; and £140.00for a ‘BBC micro:bit Club’ pack, which includes 10 devices and everything needed to get a coding club started.
The BBC micro:bits will ship in July so children and parents can take advantage of the summer holidays to begin their journey into coding.
The BBC and partners launched the BBC micro:bit in March 2016, aiming to inspire a new generation of digital pioneers, and building on the ground-breaking role of the BBC Micro, which helped introduce the nation to computing in the 1980s.
Measuring only 4cm by 5cm, and available in four colours, the BBC micro:bit has been designed to be a fun and easy-to-use introduction to the world of technology and is packed with features that provide endless possibilities for creativity:
- 25 red LEDs – light them up, flash messages, create games, and invent digital stories
- Two programmable buttons – associate them with an action and interact with your projects
- On-board motion detector – just like a smartphone; the BBC micro:bit can react to shakes, tilts, and even drops
- A built-in compass – sense which direction you’re facing and your movement in degrees
- Bluetooth Smart Technology and Low Energy – connect to the internet and the world around you, whether that’s other BBC micro:bits, phones, cameras, or tablets to ‘code on the go’ or take selfies
- Five Input and Output rings – connect the BBC micro:bit directly to other devices using crocodile clips or 4mm banana plugs, and send commands back and forth
The device is supported by a website, www.microbit.co.uk, that features a range of resources and tutorials to help teachers, parents and students take advantage of the BBC micro:bit’s vast potential. The BBC micro:bit can also be coded direct from your smartphone, with apps available for Android and iOS designed by Samsung and ScienceScope respectively.
Richard Curtin, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances for element14, said: “The BBC micro:bit is a great way to begin your journey with coding - but it’s not just for children. We believe that the BBC micro:bit will also be in demand amongst adults who want to have a go at coding and makers looking to complement their existing projects. As we make the BBC micro:bit available to buy we challenge the UK to have some fun with coding.”
The BBC micro:bit can be used in conjunction with other single board computers to increase potential applications and expand opportunities, for example utilising the bluetooth technology within the BBC micro:bit to create a tiny, handheld remote control for games or vehicles built on your Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone Black or Arduino board.
Richard continued:“The UK is facing a very real issue with a skills shortage in the areas of coding, digital technology and engineering. We want to encourage children to learn about technology, get creative and truly appreciate the possibilities it offers them. We live in a world already dominated by computers, but our next generation will see this even more, as the Internet of Things is established in our homes and an ever-increasing amount of what we do is monitored, tracked or managed by technology.”
Michel Van der Bel, managing director of Microsoft UK and vice president of Microsoft International, said: “We believe that the BBC micro:bit is a foundational programme that will support a new generation of digital makers. This is why we are helping to extend the project by making it available through the Microsoft store.
“We want everyone beyond Year 7 to have the opportunity to own a BBC micro:bit and we are proud to be providing the programming capabilities for all the friends, families, clubs and schools who choose to buy one.”
The element14 community provides additional support, including projects for the BBC micro:bit, in a community forum where you can ask questions and seek advice from its 400,000 engineer members.