Micro:bit Educational Foundation and BBC Children’s and Education invite school children from across the country to survey their playground using the power of the micro:bit

Primary school-aged children across the UK are set to be involved in a national, citizen science project to survey their playgrounds using the micro:bit, a pocket-sized computer.


Launched by BBC Children’s and Education and Micro:bit Educational Foundation, the initiative follows the free giveaway of hundreds of thousands of BBC micro:bit devices in the 2023 autumn term to primary schools, generously funded by Nominet. Now, with the help of their teachers, children aged 7 to 11 years old have an opportunity to use the micro:bit in a unique data science project to investigate and gather information about their playground. In a ground-breaking step, teachers will be able to submit findings from their class to the Office for National Statistics for analysis.


The BBC micro:bit playground survey is a series of seven exciting activities mapped to the English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh curricula. The activities are designed to help children learn vital data science and digital skills while covering a broad range of areas including geography, mathematics, science, computing, ICT, PE, understanding the world, and health and wellbeing.


Children will investigate the size, temperature and biodiversity of their playground and collect data about the physical activities taking place. They will also have an opportunity to train and test their very own machine learning model from scratch, using data they have inputted themselves, with a new tool designed to help make artificial intelligence (AI) more approachable and fun.


The BBC micro:bit playground survey homepage has a suite of online teacher resources, including videos and step-by-step instructions for every activity. There are also worksheets, posters, and certificates that teachers can download for their class. For teachers who want extra support getting started with their micro:bits, online and face-to-face training is also available free of charge.


Gareth Stockdale, CEO of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside BBC Education and the ONS on this survey that will investigate the nation’s  school playgrounds and give children the chance to try out AI. Our lives are increasingly linked to our day-to-day use of data, especially in the field of machine learning and AI. We hope it will not only capture the imagination of children, but also help them to understand more about data science. Children need to understand more about how data works and how it can  be used – it’s an essential skill for the future.”


Jo Claessens, Executive Producer at BBC Children’s and Education, added: “We have been taken aback by the response to our campaign with the Micro:bit Educational Foundation. Almost 90 per cent of UK primary schools registered for their free pack of 30 micro:bits. Now we are asking schools across all four nations to take part in our citizen science project. The survey will engage children in the power of coding, sparking their curiosity about the world around them. We can’t wait to see what they will uncover in the summer term!”


Schools can upload their class data via the playground survey data upload tool until 5pm on Wed 31st July to have the opportunity to contribute to the national results that will be published by the Office for National Statistics in the autumn term 2024.


For more information about the BBC micro:bit playground survey, visit www.bbc.co.uk/microbit