Google grant gifts 15,000 Raspberry Pis to UK schools

Google grant gifts 15,000 Raspberry Pis to UK schools

Summary: Google is paying for 15,000 Raspberry Pi devices to be put into UK schools in an effort to create the next generation of computer scientists.

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A grant from Google is to fund 15,000 free Raspberry Pi devices for UK schools, to help foster the next generation of computer scientists.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation hopes donating credit card-sized microcomputers, which normally cost $35, will encourage schoolchildren to take up coding.

The grant was announced at Chesterton Community College in Cambridge on Tuesday, where Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton gave students a programming lesson. 

"We hope that our new partnership with Google will be a significant moment in the development of computing education in the UK," Upton said in a statement. "We believe that this can turnaround the year-on-year decline in the numbers and skill sets of students applying to read Computer Science at university."

The number of people studying computer science in the UK dropped by 23 percent at undergraduate level and by 34 percent at graduate level over the last decade, according to Google.

"Britain's innovators and entrepreneurs have changed the world — the telephone, television and computers were all invented here," Schmidt said in a statement on Tuesday. "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 and Raspberry Pi have teamed up with six UK educational organisations — CoderDojo, Code Club, Computing at Schools, Generating Genius, Teach First and OCR — that will be given a supply of the devices to distribute to children interested in pursing a computing-related course.

IT skills and the curriculum

There are concerns that the current ICT syllabus in the UK does not equip students with the skills they need for a career in technology.

Google's Schmidt has previously said that ICT teaching in the UK is poor, putting too much emphasis on consuming rather than creating software.

The Raspberry Pi co-founder also believes that children in the UK are being turned off IT due to content of lessons. "Kids learn Office applications in the first couple of lessons and then they're made to sit there doing these rogue exercises," Upton told ZDNet in a recent interview. "They're bored and restless and lose interest." 

"The curriculum has managed to turn computing into a subject that is frequently rated as the most boring subject in school," Upton told ZDNet earlier this month. "How have we managed to turn playing with computers into the most boring subject?" Upton is currently in talks with exam boards about how to improve the ICT syllabus. 

Sales of the Raspberry Pi exceeded all expectations when it went on general release last year, resulting in it quickly selling out. More than 800,000 units have been sold, with Upton estimating that a quarter of these are in the hands of children.

Topics: Google, Open Source, United Kingdom, Education

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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Talkback

25 comments
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  • Great idea

    MS will not be pleased.
    D.T.Long
    • MS would be pleased

      Kids get interested in programing, learn to code, and write Windows software.

      Or do you think everyone wants to code for little to no pay?
      William Farrel
      • Does the Pi ......

        come with or run any MS tools or SW?

        Does everyone not working for MS or on Windows apps work for free?

        Do you understand how our standard of living improves? It is not by transferring wealth from one entity to another, but by increasing the efficiency with which we accomplish tasks, and unfortunately for MS, they are on the wrong side of that issue all too often.
        D.T.Long
        • Well I agree with you partly

          "Does everyone not working for MS or on Windows apps work for free?"

          But it would definitely doesn't stop MS to miss the future boat. They could pave a way to improve upon Raspberry Pi system to a Windows Embedded. I have a Raspberry Pi and Audrino Kit. I am planning to use these and integrate them with my home automation project with the help of my kids. That would open an interest in electronics for my kids and things go beyond just video games and also helps me in doing something fruitful using the technologies available at hand.
          Ram U
          • I support that wholeheartedly

            Give your children opportunities and challenges, and they will do well. Do not limit them but rather broaden their horizons. They may or may not take a liking to programming, but the only way for them to find out what they really like to do, is to let them experience as much as possible, within reason. It is also very possible that they will not know for sure until they are much older than you might like. Their brains will not be fully developed until about 25.
            D.T.Long
          • One more thought

            When my son was born, I somehow thought he would be a fair bit like me regarding interests and abilities. As it turned out, he is quite different; more creative and less linear in his thinking among other things. Fortunately, I have been able to appreciate and enjoy those strengths of his without grieving over the "missing" traits.

            Let your children become who they are are supposed to become, instead of trying to make them into who you think they should be, but with reasonable and desirable cultural skills and attitudes.
            D.T.Long
        • MS software.

          Windows RT is made for the ARM processor, but it will not run on the Raspberry PI.

          The Raspberry PI uses an SD card that is written with a bootable Linux OS. You should buy a class 10 SD card for increased speed. They are available at reasonable prices on pricewatch.com

          Another recommendation is to visit the Respberry PI site and download their OS - It now has the capability to overclock the CPU from 700 Mhz to 1Ghz. If you have Windows and need to create a bootable SD Card, you can use Active Iso Burner from NTFS.com

          The Respberry PI has an HDMI connector for HD video/audio and can plug into large screen TV's and ply blue ray quality 1080P video through them.
          Joe.Smetona
        • You just get sadder and sadder

          with each post yo type. And the funny thing is you were criticizing someone for their negative posts with no backing. Wow you definitely are the pot!
          ScanBack
        • Think about it another way...

          Did the appearance of "free" Linux create fear in Microsoft's heart?

          Did "free" Linux mean that, people stopped writing software for Windows?

          Once those students get any skills writing software with "free" Pis, they'll soon be looking to migrate their skills to the platforms which will pay them for those skills. Guess which platform will have the most Pi students coming their way?
          adornoe
      • Umm

        They will be learning to code on Ubuntu, not sure how that helps them code Windows exactly as I don't see them jumping into something they don't feel comfortable with.
        slickjim
        • As long as they code something

          That's the main ideal, get to know their way around an OS and some form of modern coding language.
          I was something to do with the BBC Micro roll out, in an honorary capacity, but whilst I hated the dumb language what it did was create a generation of people who then went on to write in other languages, create systems and so on. Unfortunately after the BBC Micro experiment had run its course nothing followed so we have no new generation following, and we can see the lack. The founder of Pi started this to get a new generation fired up, and its happening.
          I am a rabid Winfanboi but I do not care if its LINUX, it will start a new generation of nerds. And we need them to create wealth
          At last something I can begrudgingly approve by Google.
          sonnet37
      • Re: and write Windows software.

        Using Microsoft Visual Studio Raspberry Pi Edition, no doubt.
        ldo17
    • Really...

      that statement will get the Jack-Wagon award for the day. MS would love this...
      ScanBack
  • Bring on the conspiracy theories

    Some forum participants here will probably claim that Google is going to use these Raspberry Pi devices to be spying on students...

    Looking forward to the "discussion"!
    Smalahove
    • I doubt they would use these to spy on students.

      Isn't that what gMail and Google+ is for?
      William Farrel
      • Nah mate

        That's what Bing, IE, Office and Windows itself do. Spy on you that is. But then you are acting the plank as per usual. Ergo, more worthless twaddle from you.
        ego.sum.stig
  • Google's good side

    +1
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Google grant gifts 15,000 Raspberry Pis to UK schools

    Just like drug dealers Google tries to hook them while they are young.
    Loverock-Davidson
    • LoL. :D

      n/t
      Ram U
    • I know, it is terrible ....

      but they are just copying MS.

      As an aside however, I do not think the Pi comes with much in the way of Google SW, but hey, we know you are not clued in much.
      D.T.Long