Earlier this year the BBC unveiled an ambitious plan to provide tiny, programmable computing devices to a million students in the UK. The goal had been to provide the micro:bit systems to 11-year-old students this fall… but that didn’t happen.
Now the BBC says it’s on track to get micro:bit units to teachers before Christmas, with student units arriving in early 2016.
The delay is due to a problem with the power supply on some of the devices that had been manufactured.
The micro:bit doesn’t look like a traditional PC, and it really isn’t. You can’t plug in a keyboard, mouse and display and use it to surf the web or watch videos. But you can program it to do different things.
Kids can learn to code by developing simple games or other programs that use the LED lights, compass, magnetometer, accelerometer, or Bluetooth.
The micro:bit measures about 2″ x 1.6″ and features a micro USB port and two physical buttons, as well as a reset button. Much like a Raspberry Pi, the micro:bit is designed as an inexpensive tool to get kids interested in developing software and hardware projects. The difference is that the micro:bit will be distributed for free, while a Raspberry Pi computer sells for about $35… although it’s also a much more versatile device.