Cheap, Card-sized Computer Teaches Kids How to Code

A simple, low-cost computer the size of a credit card has been released that is designed to teach children how to code — and it has taken educators and the UK tech industry by storm.

While it couldn’t be any simpler – it comes without a case, without a keyboard and without a monitor – the Pi is being promoted as being able to help reverse a lack of programming skills in the UK, writes the BBC.

Eben Upton, of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, said:

“It has been six years in the making; the number of things that had to go right for this to happen is enormous. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

The real task, however, is not about getting the Raspberry Pi out to that impatient crowd of enthusiasts. What matters is the kind of reception the device gets when it arrives in schools.

Rory Cellan-Jones, technology expert at the BBC, said:

“Massive demand for the computer has caused the website of one supplier, Leeds-based Premier Farnell, to crash under the weight of heavy traffic.”

This comes as the Department for Education looks to change the teaching of computing in schools – wanting to replace “dull” ICT with a greater emphasis on skills like programming.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

“Initiatives like the Raspberry Pi scheme will give children the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of programming.

“This is a great example of the cutting edge of education technology happening right here in the UK.”

Gove wants to see schools evoke the spirit of British computer pioneer Alan Turing, whose work in the 1930s laid the foundation of the modern computing industry.

“Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum.

“Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word or Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations,” he said.

While the £22 model has just been released, a cheaper £16 version will go on sale later in the year.