UK Students Finally Get BBC micro:bit PCs – PC Magazine

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The BBC is finally making good on its promise to equip U.K. students with their own micro computers.

The effort is part of the Make it Digital nationwide initiative to inspire the next generation of developers, and will give a micro:bit coding device to every child in year 7 (the equivalent of sixth grade).

The pocket-sized computers, which feature ARM-based NXP microprocessors and Nordic Bluetooth chips, are rolling out now to thousands of 11- to 12-year-olds in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

“The ability to code is now as important as grammar and mathematics skills and it can unlock important new career options,” ARM CEO Simon Segars said in a statement. “I can easily imagine a new wave of design entrepreneurs looking back and citing today as the day their passion for technology began.”

According to the BBC, the country is in danger of a “significant skills shortage” over the next five years. So the network is resurrecting an old standard: the BBC Micro, which helped Britain come to grips with the first wave of personal computers in the 1980s.

“The BBC Micro started me on my journey towards a career in technology and the BBC micro:bit can have the same effect on children receiving their devices from today,” Segars added.

Powered by ARM mbed hardware and software development kits, the micro:bit contains a Nordic MCU with Bluetooth 4.0, allowing kids to connect gadgets and experiment with the Internet of Things. It also features the Kinetis microcontroller, designed by NXP, which provides USB connectivity and promises incredibly simple programming.

The device has a 25-LED matrix display, micro-USB connector, 3-axis accelerometer, and 3-axis magnetometer, as well.

“This is a proud moment in the advancement of technology and education,” NXP CEO Rick Clemmer said. “Together, everyone involved in the BBC micro:bits initiative is truly stimulating innovation, motivating the next generation of technologists, scientists, and entrepreneurs in their pursuit of a better future.”

UK Students Finally Get BBC micro:bit PCs – PC Magazine