Each year the NCUB publish statistics on the number of female students entering GCSE and A-Level Physics, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate technology studies. The dashboard contains targets to improve these numbers between 2012 and 2030.
A new weapon to help achieve this is the BBC micro.bit – a collaborative project that has given 1 million pocket-sized computers to year 7 school children throughout the UK. The project hopes to inspire digital creativity in a new generation and propel them into STEM related careers.
The project has participation from a number of the biggest names in technology, such as Cambridge based ARM, who develop the designs for the chips found in the majority of mobile phones around the world.
“The BBC Micro started me on my journey towards a career in technology and the BBC micro:bit can have the same effect on children receiving their devices from today,” said Simon Segars, CEO of ARM. “The ability to code is now as important as grammar and mathematics skills and it can unlock important new career options. I can easily imagine a new wave of design entrepreneurs looking back and citing today as the day their passion for technology began.”
The video below shows Jonny Austin, the technical lead for ARM on the micro.bit project showing off what can be achieved with the device and highlighting the fun applications of the technology.
The project has also received considerable support from Microsoft, who have not only provided an online programming environment for the micro.bit, but have developed resources such as The Quick Start Guide for Teachers that aim to help users get started.
The company has also worked alongside teachers to produce a number of lesson plans for both the Touch Develop and for the Block Editor to help children of varied abilities develop things such as a Pac Man game or a Magic 8-ball fortune teller.
“As soon as we saw the ambition and the scale involved, we jumped at the chance to partner with the BBC on a project designed expressly to introduce young people to coding. The reality is that in the UK we haven’t done enough to nurture the next generation of tech talent. The BBC micro:bit is a huge step forward, because it shows young people the creative power of digital skills,” Hugh Milward, Director of Corporate Affairs at Microsoft UK, says.
Dr David Docherty, the National Centre’s CEO said “To maintain the UK’s competitiveness we need to inspire a new generation into STEM related careers. The National Centre welcomes the micro.bit to help ensure the dire 2030 projections of the number of women taking A-levels and degrees in technology and engineering never become reality.”
Hopefully the project will go a long way towards achieving the ambitious goals outlined by the Talent 2030 project.