Inspiring Next Generation Coders

April 5, 2016

Legendary is the story of the child who spends more time playing with the box their present arrives in than the expensive and thoughtful gift inside.

This familiar scene, played out in books, films and in homes at Christmas around the country is often recounted with a wry smile, a nod to the creativity and openness with which children view the world. So it is with great excitement that we await further examples of ingenuity and imagination that are likely to emerge from the BBC’s recent project to give a million children across the UK a piece of kit called a Micro Bit.

The BBC’s recent project, Micro Bit, is a renaissance of the success of the original BBC Micro project, which inspired a generation of coders 35 years ago. The Micro Bit is a small, wearable piece of tech that plugs into a computer and can be used to create code. This tiny piece of kit has been given out to children in Year 7 up and down the country hoping to inspire in them the creative potential of coding, so far the results are very encouraging.

It is still early days for the Micro Bit, but children have already launched it into the stratosphere (what child wouldn’t want to do that?). Another group created a giant display board, which required 230m of wiring to rig up and 5,000 bolts. Students in Highgate, London, used the device to create a series of graphics representing emotions, which with the press of a button would present their mood. A one-day project that they hoped would be of assistance when communicating with people with autism. These are just a few of the creative and innovative uses the unassuming Micro Bit has produced in its infancy, with a further selection recounted in the BBC article “Seven Outstanding Microbit Projects”.

As Holly Margerison from the Institution of Engineering and Technology concludes:

"One thing which strikes me is that the students clearly understand the place of coding in the world and understand the ways in which it can enhance and improve their lives."

We should all be excited as we await further inventions. This time, not made from the imagination a child can bring to a simple cardboard box, but from harnessing that ingenuity and introducing it to the boundless possibilities offered by coding.

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