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Google's Eric Schmidt applauds the $35 Raspberry Pi computer

May 24, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • Google's Eric Schmidt said he thinks that the $35 Raspberry Pi computer could help solve Britain's computer science education crisis.
Google's Eric Schmidt said he thinks that the $35 Raspberry Pi computer… (Raspberry Pi Foundation )

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt wants to help Britain get its computer science curriculum in order, and he thinks that the $35 Raspberry Pi computer can help.

"The success of the BBC Micro in the 1980s shows what's possible," Schmidt said Wednesday during a talk at London's Science Museum called "Why Science Matters." "There's no reason why Raspberry Pi shouldn't have the same impact, with the right support."

Schmidt's shout-out to the bare-bones computer that is about the size of a credit card, and the price of a textbook, came right after he announced that Google would be sponsoring the charity Teach First in a project to take more than 100 "exceptional" graduates in the computer science field and prepare them to teach in secondary schools.

"Only 2% of Google engineers say they weren't exposed to computer science in high school," Schmidt said. "While not every child is going to become a programmer, those with aptitude shouldn't be denied the chance."

In a blog post on the Raspberry Pi Foundation, officials of the nonprofit behind the little computer said they were "chuffed to bits" about Schmidt's speech and his citing of the Raspberry Pi as a prime example of cost-appropriate hardware that could help with computer science education.

They were perhaps less "chuffed" that Schmidt also declared Britain's computer science education to be in a "sorry state," even if they agree.

In fact, the Raspberry Pi Foundation was started by a group of six volunteers, mostly Cambridge academics, who came together over a mutual concern at how little British youth know about computer programming.

The group's first order of business was to invent a platform for children to learn on. With that mission accomplished, the next goal was to get the computer into the hands of as many schoolchildren as possible.

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