Google (News - Alert) is apparently in a generous mood after giving some 15,000 Raspberry Pis for schools in the United Kingdom – with the aim that the free computers will help to train a new generation of computer scientists.
“We’re the recipients of a very generous grant from Google Giving, which will provide 15,000 Raspberry Pi Model Bs for schoolkids around the UK,” according to a statement from RaspberryPi.org. “This is a brilliant way for us to find kids all over the country whose aptitude for computing can now be explored properly. We believe that access to tools is a fundamental necessity in finding out who you are and what you’re good at. We want those tools to be within everybody’s grasp, right from the start.”
Google and six partners will be assigning the computers to students who will most benefit from having their own Raspberry Pi. The organizations include: CoderDojo, Code Club, Computing at Schools, Generating Genius (News - Alert), Teach First and OCR. OCR also will be providing 15,000 free teaching and learning packs to go with the Raspberry Pis.
In conjunction with the gift, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt (News - Alert) visited Cambridge, where he co-taught code to young students. He was joined by Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton.
Schmidt says there should be more taught on software, rather than focus instruction on just using the computer. He sees the United Kingdom as an important location for computer science instruction.
"Britain's innovators and entrepreneurs have changed the world – the telephone, television and computers were all invented here,” Schmidt said in a statement quoted by the media. "We have been working to encourage the next generation of computer scientists and we hope this donation... to British school pupils will help drive a new wave of innovation."
Google is not alone in wanting to see improved computer science teaching in the United Kingdom. There is concern over a recent trend where over the past decade, the number of UK college students studying computer science dropped by 23 percent, The BBC reported. The number of UK graduate students studying computer science dropped by 34 percent.
"Computer science is something that we have been calling the 'fourth science' for some time. We believe that it is every bit as important as physics, chemistry and biology," Steve Beswick, director of education at Microsoft (News - Alert), said in a statement. "By formally introducing children to computer science basics at primary school, we stand a far greater chance of increasing the numbers taking the subject through to degree level and ultimately the world of work."
The Google grant is valued at $525,000, using the computers’ retail value of $35 each, according to reports. Raspberry Pi has recently upped its memory while keeping the same affordable price. Over one million Raspberry Pis have been sold since the product was launched.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman