Children can now borrow BBC micro:bits from all six of Southend-on-Sea’s libraries! Sponsored by The Micro:bit Education Foundation, who have kindly donated 60 micro:bits to Southend libraries, the Microbit Library Loan Scheme gives kids the opportunity to learn and improve their coding skills at home. These skills are especially important now that the UK’s national school curriculum has replaced ICT with Computer Science.

Last year, Year 7 pupils across the country were given micro:bits by the BBC to promote programming and computer science to the young generation. In a further effort to make micro:bits accessible to more young people, libraries are now participating in this campaign to inspire the next generation of programmers and developers.

As well as Southend, the Microbit Library Loan Scheme is also being trialled at Kirklees, Newcastle, Blackpool and Coventry – led by Amy Hearn.

The micro:bit boxes are available on loan for free for up to three weeks, and includes the micro:bit with mini USB cable to connect to a computer, battery pack and instructions. They can be borrowed just as easily as books from Southend libraries, with support available at the Microbit Drop In Workshops at select libraries. Don’t be mistaken in thinking that this is just for children! Adults are also encouraged to borrow them too if you fancy learning something new or playing around with this smart little device.

microbit Southend Library

Photo by David Whale

What are BBC micro:bits?

BBC micro:bits are designed by the BBC and serve as a child-friendly introduction to the world of coding, where you can actively learn not only how basic hardware works but software too! In this era, where we are all walking around with tiny computers in our pockets, many of us do not pause to contemplate how our various devices even work. But children are naturally inquisitive, so we need to encourage their curiosity while we still can and turn it into a beneficial learning experience for them! These devices that play increasingly bigger roles in our daily lives shouldn’t be an alien mystery to those who are growing up alongside them. Children from all backgrounds should be afforded the opportunity to understand and explore technology creatively so that, whether or not they choose to pursue a career in technology as adults, at least they have the capacity to.

Micro:bits have numerous features that allow their functions to be limited only by your own imagination.

As the Micro:bit Foundation says,

“from robots to musical instruments – the possibilities are endless.”

With motion detection, USB, Bluetooth connection, two programmable buttons and 25 red LED lights, this tiny little board (half the size of a credit card!) can be used to control other devices wirelessly or simply flash messages. If you have a smartphone, there is even a micro:bit mobile app available that lets you send your code wirelessly to run on the micro:bit.

BBC Microbit

You can learn more about micro:bits on the Micro:bit Foundation’s website.

Where can you learn how to use a micro:bit in Southend?

Southend Tech host drop-in workshops throughout Southend, to teach both children and adults how to use the micro:bit. Visit their website for more information on dates and locations.

Featured photo: Andy Melder from Southend Tech at The Forum with Joe Passingham and Jo Robertson, Library Manager and Assistant Library Manager.