EDUCATIONAL COMPUTING HAS a long and storied history, beginning with the adoption of mechanical calculators to aid with mathematics classes through to the early days of microcomputing with initiatives like the BBC Computer Literacy Project in the 1980s. As the cost of computers came down and their capabilities increased, schools around the world rapidly went from a single shared computer to entire rooms filled with computers, integrating them into lessons from languages and history to engineering and art.

Today many homes have a computer of their own, or in some cases more than one. While access to computers has increased, actually operating them brings with it a sense of being disconnected from their inner workings. The BBC Micro, the 1980s microcomputer designed by Acorn Computers and at the heart of the BBC Computer Literacy Project, loaded straight into a text-based programming language known as the Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) and invited experimentation; today, the majority of computers load into a graphical user interface (GUI) which emphasises the use of pre-written programs over creating your own.

The BBC micro:bit is designed to bring back the days of learning to write your own code on a low-cost, easily-understood platform. Designed to sit at the heart of an international computer literacy programme directly inspired by the BBC’s original Computer Literacy Project, the BBC micro:bit is an affordable microcontroller on which you ...

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