The Micro:bit Educational Foundation celebrates first year!
The Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a year old and what a year! This time last October, the BBC micro:bit was handed over to the Foundation after the 1 million micro:bit UK give-away and we announced our plans of introducing this wonderful, educational device to the world!
In this amazing twelve months, we have seen a rapid expansion across the globe, with the micro:bit on sale in over 30 countries, including recent launches in North America, Japan and India, and close to 100 resellers. We’re firm believers in guaranteeing educators in schools and clubs have the tools they need to ensure each micro:bit has maximum impact, and to make sure everybody has that opportunity we have been empowering children, teachers and parents in over 50 countries with sponsored micro:bits and supporting resources.
We've also been updating the micro:bit website with exciting new features and editors and making it easier to use in preparation for the 2017/2018 school year. We have now released a new MakeCode editor and an updated Python editor – check them out at https://microbit.org/code. Don't worry, if you still need the original editors they are still available.
To make sure all these things are happening, the Foundation team has grown from three seconded staff in its first weeks to currently 18 and we now operate from four countries. Despite the scale of things, we still manage to meet-up every week for a chat and (virtual) cuppa and of course an online Birthday celebration - see the cakes we made above. We also had our first summer internship when seventeen-year-old inventor Ross Lowe joined us for six weeks. He has been brilliant, working closely with us on a number of fantastic projects. The micro:bit Community has also been growing; we now have over 50 working members in our wider Community. We’re a close-knit bunch who share the same vision, that in the future every child will be an inventor.
It is not just the Foundation’s work we are celebrating. We have been supporting people and projects in the UK and all over the globe, such as Mannapperuma, 24, the founder of micro:bit Sri Lanka User Group. He heads a growing team of 150 volunteers who fan out all over Sri Lanka - firing up over 2000 students with the micro:bit and the message that writing computer code is no arcane art but within the reach of inquisitive fingers and curious minds.
Croatian based IRIM, lead by Nenad Bakic, started a crowdfunding campaign, BBC Micro:bit STEM revolution in schools, working towards the goal of every child in the 6th grade in Croatia being given access to micro:bit. The project was met with an incredible enthusiasm from the public and raised its first target in just a few days and went on to hit three further targets within two weeks. In the end, the original goal was surpassed by 480% raising over $314,000 to fund micro:bits in Croatian schools. Mr Bakic himself contributed a further $60k to the fund, which has already helped over 1000 primary schools, libraries and universities in Croatia.
Thanks to dedicated librarian Amy Hearn and a successful project with the UK library service and the hard work of their teams, you can now borrow a micro:bit from over 750 libraries across the UK. There are more providers signing up every week and we’re hoping soon every library in the country will have micro:bits ready to borrow! You can read more about it here.
Of course, the reality is it is not about the Foundation; it’s been amazing and humbling to see the projects and creations from young people, such as these from our Challenge Competitions earlier this year. Joseph, aged 15, won our Mothers and Carers challenge for his package of useful micro:bit utilities. Written in Python, his micro:bit apps included: an alarm clock; teeth brushing alarm; door opening alarm and key finder plus an impressive video explaining how they are all used. Seb, aged 7, won our Christmas challenge for his sleigh that lights up and plays music automatically when Santa picks up the reins. Seb wrote: "The lights look nice and could also be used to tell the reindeer when to go without Santa pulling the reins. They also turn off quickly and easily when he lets go so he doesn't wake up the boys and girls when he is delivering presents". Seb built his working device with a micro:bit (of course) Lego, metal foil and a toy horse.
It has been hugely encouraging to know research shows we have been doing a good job. The BBC released statistics this year showing in its first year the BBC micro:bit definitely changed attitudes amongst UK students and teachers towards coding and ICT/computing. For last year’s Year 7 students in England and Wales and the equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland who used the BBC micro:bit:
- 90% agree BBC micro:bit helped show them anyone can code
- 88% agree BBC micro:bit helped them see coding isn’t as difficult as they thought it was
- 45% said they would definitely do ICT/Computer Science as a subject option in the future, up from 36% before they used BBC micro:bit. This was even more accentuated for girls, increasing from 23% before they used BBC micro:bit to 39% afterwards, a 70% increase
And, amongst teachers:
- 75% have or are intending to use the BBC micro:bit by the end of the summer term
- 85% agree it has made ICT/Computer Science more enjoyable for their students
- 80% agree it helped students to see coding wasn’t as difficult as they thought it would be
- Half of teachers who’ve used the BBC micro:bit say they now feel more confident as a teacher, particularly those who say they’re not very confident in teaching Computing.
It has been an amazing year and we are looking forward to the next one and taking further steps towards the Foundation’s goal of inspiring more than 100 million children across the globe. We could not have done this on our own and we want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has worked with us on this incredible journey and supporting us along the way. This is all your work!