Tiny codeable computers available for free at Norfolk’s libraries

21 November 2017

More than 500 pocket-sized, codeable computers have been donated to Norfolk’s library service so children across the county can improve their digital skills.

The BBC micro:bits are available to hire from every Norfolk County Council library and can be used for all sorts of digital creations, from games to robots to musical instruments.

They can be borrowed for free for up to three weeks on any library card and come with instructions, a USB cable and battery holder.  The micro:bits can be programmed via any desktop or laptop computer and can also be used with mobile phones or tablets using Bluetooth technology.  The devices have built-in displays, buttons, motion detection, temperature and light sensors.

All 520 were donated by the Micro:bit Educational Foundation as part of a worldwide drive to encourage children to get creative with technology and gain digital skills in clubs, schools and at home. Coding can be done using a choice of editors, including Python and JavaScript Blocks.

Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, said: “We are very grateful for the donation.  Many of our libraries already run successful computer coding clubs and we are increasing our other digital services.  The micro:bits mean all Norfolk children have free access to learn how to code, create and have fun, improving their digital skills for the future.”

Coding clubs are run by volunteers and the library service is keen to increase the number of volunteers so they can offer more clubs.  To find out more go to: www.codeclub.org.uk/start-a-club/volunteers

Research* has shown that the vast majority of children using micro:bits in schools found computer science more interesting and highlighted that anyone can code.

Full details about how to code are available at microbit.org

More details about borrowing micro:bits from the libraries are here: www.norfolk.gov.uk/microbits

Norfolk Library and Information Service also offers a range of digital services, including ebooks and audio books that can be borrowed online for up to three weeks and emagazines for download.

The libraries' IConnect digital programme offers friendly support using computers and mobile tablets or smartphones, whether you need to search for a job, keep in touch with friends and family or learn how to save money by shopping around online.

*Research findings for the BBC include:

  • 90% of students said the micro:bit showed them that anyone can code.
  • 86% of students said the micro:bit made Computer Science more interesting.
  • 70% more girls said they would choose Computing as a school subject after using the micro:bit.
  • 85% of teachers agree it has made ICT/Computer Science more enjoyable for their students.
  • Half of teachers who’ve used the micro:bit say they now feel more confident as a teacher, particularly those who say they’re not very confident in teaching computing.
  • Sentance et al., "Creating cool stuff” – Pupils’ experience of the BBC micro:bit, Kings College London

Full details of the research are available at microbit.org/teach

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