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Horrified by the lack of computer programming taught in UK schools, Google chairman Eric Schmidt has been trying to give it a kick start by funding teacher training and Raspberry Pi development kits for schools – a good start, but it won’t just take a specific piece of kit to create a generation of British code wizards.
According to research, the problem with IT classes within British schools is they teach kids to use programs, not create them. The Raspberry Pi is a tiny and cheap computing board, designed in Britain, available for a mere $25 and, once loaded with Linux, is ready to run user-created programs and/or form the heart of robots, tablets, games consoles, and more.
As Schmidt has pointed out, Britain has a good history of producing digital whizzkids, between the BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum which created a bedroom-coding generation in the 80s, whose members are now sitting in the upper echelons of the videogame industry. Schools using Raspberry Pi, as part of a move back to teaching core programming skills, is a great idea.
That doesn’t answer the whole question, though – while a changed British IT curriculum, including using kits like the Raspberry Pi, is good news, there’s no guarantee it’ll be the Pi out on top in the end. There are other open-source computer kits also available – Arduino boards, for instance.
A new generation of British programming talent is probable, but it won’t necessarily be the Raspberry Pi to which they pledge allegiance.
Is a similar move needed in the US to stimulate more interest in the STEM subjects?
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I don't think it matters if it is the Raspberry Pi that creates that new generation (although it has a good chance). What matters is that the curriculum changes and it happens.
The goals for the Pi were modest, and if it achieves them it will make a difference. even if it just acts as a catalyst for others that doesn't matter.
As a tool that kids can own themselves, mess around with without fear of damage or great loss, it is brilliant. The community that's building around it is regenerating that buzz that was present in the 80's when I, and many others, were using our BBC, Atari, or Commodore computers and were actually programming them and understanding how they worked, something that's been lost to the PC / Tablet / Smartphone generation.
The first iteration of a community-sourced educational manual has just been released (http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/2965) and it's still early days for the Pi. Buy one for your kids, it might gather dust, or it might just give them a career they'll love and will only ever become more in demand as time goes on.
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if you want to learn programming try code academy, then perhaps use the Pi to type code on for your own projects, the nicer thing is with the pi is that you can easily install software, make it in to a web sever and thanks to the pi store download a whole range of resources. Oh and don't forget interface it with stuff, and write code to do interact with the hardware you put with it, so you learn electronic engineering at the same time.
if the pi can't hack it, ten you have the skills to move to other platforms e.g arduino which is probably more suited in some cases to different projects.