At NICERC we’re always searching for great technology that has a role in the classroom. The micro:bit is the latest piece of EdTech kit we’ve fallen in love with. (No offense to all our other robots and Raspberry Pis – you are loved too!) The micro:bit is an incredibly low-cost creation coming to the US from across the pond in the UK.
Back in the 1980s, the BBC launched an initiative to outfit schools with that new-fangled device, the affordable desktop computer. The result was the BBC Micro, a stand-alone computer. The stated goal of that program was to grow a generation of students with computer literacy skills. Fast forward to 2012 and BBC once again wanted to grow literacy across an entire generation, but this time it was not computer literacy but computer science – a fitting tale for this being CS Education Week. BBC set out to accomplish by developing a low-cost programmable device students write code for that would allow them to interact with their world in many new and innovative ways. The project was developed with a range of experts across several disciplines and the result is a device that is jam-packed with features, available for purchase for about $15!
We know the use of technology itself is not computer science. Computer science is a way of problem solving and making sense of data to create meaningful tools for human decisions. In this light, the micro:bit provides students and teachers a means of digitally interacting with the world through sensors and different outputs. The micro:bit has a number of sensors built in, ready to use with no wiring or additional costs involved! Right out of the box, the micro:bit features a 5×5 LED matrix for making simple graphics, an accelerometer for measuring physical motion, a temperature sensor for measuring ambient temperature, a digital compass for determining direction, five different push buttons, and even a Bluetooth radio module for connecting to other micro:bits or for programming from a mobile device!
CSEdWeek is not just a fad or blind push for technology usage. CSEdWeek exists to elevate the conversation of why computer science and computational thinking are such powerful skillsets for our students. Computer science is not just for those who want to pursue a career in computers, technology, or even STEM. Computer science can allow everyone to be more informed, more empowered, and more prepared to meet tomorrow’s challenges head on. At NICERC, we’re excited to have the micro:bit join our list of technology that empowers learners. We invite you to check back with us in the coming weeks and months to learn what exciting content awaits teachers using the micro:bit in their schools!
NICERC’s curricula is currently implemented in all 50 states and builds K-12 aptitude in STEM, computer science, and cyber curricula. For more information, visit www.nicerc.org.