Inspiring young innovators with the new Micro:bit Educational Foundation
- The BBC micro:bit successfully deployed in UK schools will continue to be supported and rolled out to Europe and beyond
- New features including peer-to-peer radio communications to be introduced
- The Foundation will also make extensive multilingual project and teaching resources available to encourage creativity and invention with technology at school, in clubs and at home
- Schematics and a complete reference design will be released to enable makers to innovate further
The BBC micro:bit minicomputer given free to up to 1 million UK school children in 2016 is being continued in the UK and rolled out internationally by the new Micro:bit Educational Foundation launched today in London. The Foundation is a not-for-profit company that builds on the huge success of the BBC micro:bit and aims to lower barriers to technology invention for young people, makers and developers globally. Focusing first on the UK and Europe, the organization will enable teachers, governments and educational organisations to fulfil their digital educational goals and help improve digital skills across the globe.
"We’ve seen the BBC micro:bit grow from an exciting idea, made real through an ambitious and unprecedented partnership, into an educational tool that’s already making a real difference to children’s lives. The Foundation is the right next step for the project to take, guaranteeing continued support for teachers, parents and children in the UK, and encouraging even more people to get creative with technology. I’d like to say huge thank you to everybody that has played a part in getting the micro:bit to where it is today, and I’m looking forward to an exciting future."
– Sinead Rocks, Head of BBC Learning.
Over the last 12 months the BBC micro:bit partnership has distributed up to 1 million micro:bits to school children in the UK, launched a micro:bit website with four different code editors, along with hundreds of resources and supporting content for students and teachers. Its impact is already being seen – since launching in March this year, users have visited the website more than 13 million times, used the code simulator nearly ten million times and compiled code onto their devices close to two million times. As a core part of the BBC ‘Make it Digital’ initiative, it is also helping to change attitudes by encouraging more girls into ICT and computing subjects and making coding and technology more accessible to children.
"The digital world is evolving all the time – and with it, the demand for more young people with digital skills. It is therefore crucial that we provide the next generation with the right tools and opportunities to get involved – we are delighted to be supporting the Foundation, which will promote digital creativity throughout the world."
– Michelle Richmond, Director of Membership and Professional Development at the IET.
The Foundation will begin taking over from the original BBC micro:bit partnership from today in a phased transition, ensuring long-term support and expansion of the educational program in the UK and internationally. The creation of the Foundation was made possible by support from leading educational and technology organisations including: ARM, BBC, Microsoft, Nominet, Samsung and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
Outside the UK, early adopters of the BBC micro:bit include Iceland and the Netherlands, with deployments now starting in schools. Availability will be extended across Europe during Q4/2016 with plans to roll out the device in North America and Asia in 2017. There is interest from more than 20 countries, including Bangladesh, China, Finland, Norway and Singapore, to deploy micro:bit educational programs.
"Just as the BBC Micro inspired a generation of computer programmers and entrepreneurs, the micro:bit is set to take it to the next level, instilling a passion for technology in the innovators of tomorrow. By expanding the micro:bit’s functionality and enabling access to tools and resources for young people, educators and makers around the world, the Micro:bit Educational Foundation will create a proud legacy of digital creativity."
– Mike Muller, Chief Technology Officer, ARM.
“The BBC micro:bit is extremely popular with children in the UK and we’re seeing a similar reaction in Iceland where young people are already using it as a trusted tool for their creative ideas,” said Zach Shelby, Chief Executive Officer, Micro:bit Educational Foundation. “Our mission is to ensure that students, teachers and makers in the UK and around the world have long-term access to the micro:bit and get the support and resources that will help them imagine, invent and innovate. For us, this is about putting the micro:bit into the hands of young people everywhere, unlocking the potential to bring great ideas to life quickly.”
The BBC micro:bit gives teachers and educational organisations an easy-to-use platform to teach STEM skills that align with their curriculum, enabling digital creativity and improving digital literacy. For makers, developers and hobbyists, the micro:bit serves as a flexible platform for prototyping a wide range of applications and provides the opportunity to contribute to its further development. The BBC will release schematics for the micro:bit in addition to a complete reference design from the Foundation. This will guide makers on how to get creative with designing technology such as wireless sensors.
"I know personally the impact the BBC micro had on getting young people into technology. Thirty years on, there's enormous potential for the micro:bit to equip this generation for the IoT. The Nominet team is working on including technology that will allow the micro:bit to connect with the cloud, paving the way for children to take part in global projects."
– Adam Leach, Director of Research & Development, Nominet.
As well as increasing the accessibility of the BBC micro:bit, the Foundation will support diverse applications that serve a broad range of educational purposes and target age groups and extend its capabilities, bringing exciting new features to users, such as peer-to-peer radio communications. Further development will continue in terms of building a strong library of resources for the micro:bit community, including adding international language support and developing localized educational curriculums.
The BBC micro:bit is available through a number of resellers. See a full list of micro:bit resellers at https://microbit.org/resellers.
"Microsoft is proud to be one of the founding partners of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, bringing access to computing education via the micro:bit to a worldwide audience."
– Eran Megiddo, Corporate Vice President, Education Products, Microsoft.
"At Samsung, we are passionate about inspiring children all over the world to engage with and learn more about technology, helping them to gain the key skills needed by today’s digitally driven economy. We are extremely proud to have developed the official Android app for the micro:bit, and are looking forward to working closely with the Micro:bit Educational Foundation to create opportunities together that make coding more accessible through mobile technology."
– Aleyne Johnson, Head of Government Relations & Citizenship, Samsung UK.