BBC To Provide 11-Year-Olds With Simple Computers


It’s no secret that some of the best software and hardware engineers around started tinkering and coding in their early years. It could be argued that we wouldn’t be where we are today if youngsters hadn’t had the opportunity to get their hands dirty. The BBC wants to harness the curiosity and ingenuity of adolescence and provide a million 11 year olds with a simple computer to jumpstart the UKs mission to become more digital.

The initiative is part of a wider push to increase digital skills among young people and help to fill the digital skills gap. The UK is facing a significant skills shortage, with 1.4 million “digital professionals” estimated to be needed over the next five years.

The BBC is one among many that are contributing to the effort of creating interest in computing. They will provide what they call a Micro Bit, a simple computing device comparable to the Raspberry Pi.

When it launches in September it will be compatible with three coding languages – Touch Develop, Python and C++.

The BBC has support from the top technology companies in creating the Micro Bit, including Microsoft and ARM. It is unclear how these Microbits will be implemented into the curricula, but the BBC says they will be ready to distribute the devices to schools for the start of the fall term.

For some, you may recall the name, and the BBC doing something similar in the 1980s, which they did. In 1981 the BBC released the “BBC Micro,” manufactured by Acorn featuring 8 bit processing and up to 128 kB of memory. That too was created primary for education. Now nearly 35 years down the line they’re revamping the program with a similar mission but much updated hardware.

Do you think the UK majorly integrating computing into it’s middle and high school core curriculum is the next step for the US? Could you see it replacing a core class, or rather being integrated in current classes such as a unit in math or science? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

Featured image courtesy KQED

  Source: BBC
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