Women of Wearables is happy to announce collaboration with the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, which aims to enable children around the world to become inventors!
The BBC micro:bit is a fun, handheld, easily programmable computer that was rolled-out across the UK in 2016 - and is now being used around the world. It’s 70 times smaller and 18 times faster than the original BBC Micro computers used in schools in the early 1980s.
It is an educational and creative tool to inspire a new generation of young people. It can be used across the curriculum, not just in STEM subjects. It can help give young people the knowledge and skills to move from being consumers of digital information, to being designers and creators of new tools to enhance learning, to solve problems or just to have fun, enabling them to make the most of 21st century life and the economy.
You can use BBC micro:bit for all sorts of cool creations, from robots to musical instruments – the possibilities are endless. This little device has an awful lot of features, like 25 red LED lights that can flash messages. There are two programmable buttons that can be used to control games or pause and skip songs on a playlist. BBC micro:bit can detect motion and tell you which direction you’re heading in, and it can use a low energy Bluetooth connection to interact with other devices and the Internet – clever!
Started by the BBC and a great team of partners in 2016, the Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a non-profit organisation. The Foundation builds on the huge success of the 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 organisation will enable teachers, governments and educational organisations to fulfil their digital educational goals and help improve digital skills across the globe.
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 2016 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 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 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.
“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 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.
As well as increasing the accessibility of the BBC micro:bit, the Foundation supports 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.
Micro:bit Educational Foundation has kindly sponsored Women of Wearables with 35 BBC micro:bits for our workshops and educational sessions with children in Manchester and London! Stay tuned for more news and updates on these workshops in April and May 2017!