All year seven pupils to be given a pioneering Micro Bit computer in bid to nurture new generation of tech geniuses.

The prototype design of the BBC's new micro-bit.

The prototype design of the BBC’s new micro-bit.

The BBC has announced plans to hand out one million free computers to every Year Seven pupil in the country.

Still in development and nicknamed the Micro Bit, it aims to give children an exciting and engaging introduction to coding, help them realise their early potential and, ultimately, put a new generation back in control of technology. It will be distributed nationwide from autumn 2015.

The Micro Bit project builds on the legacy of the seminal BBC Micro, which was put into the majority of schools in the 1980s and was instrumental in the careers of so many of today’s technology pioneers. Computing and digital technology has become ubiquitous since then, but for many, the emphasis has shifted from creation to consumption. The Micro Bit, and the wider BBC Make it Digital initiative, aims to help redress the balance.

Youngsters will be given a new Micro Bit machine, which is a small computer similar to Raspberry Pi.

“The Micro Bit will be a small, wearable device with an LED display that children can programme in a number of ways,” the BBC announced.

“It will be a standalone, entry-level coding device that allows children to pick it up, plug it into a computer and start creating with it immediately.”

The Beeb hopes its generosity will help 11-year-olds “realise their early potential and, ultimately, put a new generation back in control of technology”.

Back in the early days of the computer revolution, the BBC Micro helped teach youngsters the basics of programming a computer.

The Corporation is hoping to repeat some of the success of their earlier machines and inspire youngsters to join the lucrative tech industry.

Currently, just 0.4% of sixth-form students opt to take an ICT A-level, despite the fact the tech industry will provide more than 5% of jobs.

The Micro Bit – which is still in development – will be distributed by the end of 2015 directly to school teachers, who will pass the computers on to kids.

[divider]We’re doomed[/divider]

However, the Beeb simply can’t afford to give away £5-10m every year in hardware, and the partners’ generosity is finite. Also, coding is now something kids are supposed to experience from the age of five (yes, really), so we’re talking about several million devices at about the same cost as a Pi, and buying a new bunch each year.

That’s real money, but if we want ALL kids to have a go at coding and other parts of high end digital literacy, there’s a price to be paid, so who’s going to cough up?

This is a risky project. The common theme to Make it Digital is that it’s not aiming at teenagers who already code in C++, but those who haven’t even tried, or might not even want to.

That’s why the Beeb is chucking in Doctor Who, Radio 1 and EastEnders to sweeten the pot. One individual was accused by one teacher of being a little sneery which brought home to us that the Beeb’s job is to get everyone coding, not just kids.

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