By Dia Ascenzi
It’s no secret that much of today’s world is built around computers. There are tons of jobs that require extensive knowledge of them, meaning there is job security in being current and proficient in computer programming. Because of this, the BBC has taken a bold and innovative step to promote computer education for British youth. They are sending minicomputers to each student in the UK enrolled in years 7 and 8. Their goal is to help students become familiar and excited about learning computer programming, even if only at a beginner’s level. One million BBC Micro Bits will be sent out to students in the UK, absolutely free. This could represent a huge change in how the next generation will be able to use and understand computer programming.
The BBC Micro Bit is a small, programmable micro computer similar to the Raspberry Pi or Arduino. It has inputs, outputs, a processor, 25 LED lights, and two programmable buttons. Students will be given these Micro Bits to use in the classroom alongside beginner-friendly web portals and smartphone apps. Teachers will be trained in how to teach the skills needed to make basic programs and apps, or even basic robotic mechanisms. There is almost no limit to the coding capabilities of the BBC Micro Bit, so dedicated students may learn enough to make much more advanced programs with their shiny new mini computers.
This program was funded by the BBC’s Make it Digital campaign, an initiative to create a generation with widespread proficiency in computer programming. This mass distribution and education could produce an army of computer geniuses hitting the job market in a few years.