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The BBC micro:bit inside and out

Joe Finney, Lancaster University


A little over a year ago, 1 million micro:bits were donated free of charge to almost every Year 7 child in the UK. This was made possible through a consortium of partners led by the BBC (including Microsoft, ARM, Samsung, Lancaster University and many others), all of whom were passionate to encourage UK children to study Computing. Lancaster’s role was the development of a software "abstraction layer" for the micro:bit that enables high level languages that kids and teachers love to use (such as Scratch-like block programming, JavaScript and Python) to work on a tiny, physical computer like the micro:bit. This talk discusses the motivation behind the project, how the micro:bit really works and its parallels with "real-world" computing, the many ways it can be used in education and some insights into what the future may hold.

Session resource(s)

Joe Finney's biography

Joe Finney is a senior lecturer in the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University, where he also co-leads a CAS Regional Centre. His technical interests focus on systems and network support for lightweight embedded systems, and he has a passion for real world impact of research. In addition to his academic publications he has formed two companies, licensed several patents, has developed software for the
Microsoft internet protocol stack and more recently has worked with the BBC, ARM, Microsoft and many others to develop the BBC micro:bit, and deliver 1 million of these devices (one to every Year 7 child in the UK) for free, to help encourage the teaching and learning of Computing at Schools. He now is seconded part time into the Micro:bit Education Foundation, where he is working to help support and develop the use of the micro:bit around the world.

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