How Raspberry Pi Computers Are Expanding Access to Tech
By Amy Lindgren
When you hear the word “Raspberry Pi,” the first thing that might come to mind is a dessert. But there a credit-card sized computer of the same name taking the education and maker worlds by storm. This tiny computer is how millions of students around the world are learning to become digital makers, as opposed to passive consumers of technology.
The Raspberry Pi computer is simple and accessible to elementary, middle, and high school students, regardless of experience with coding or computers. Applications like Scratch, Minecraft, and Mathematica are pre-installed.
The real-world applications are endless, and limited only by what a student dreams up in design. Have a Harry Potter fan in your house? She can build her own sorting hat while learning the critical computer science concepts of functions, loops, and conditionals using the Python programming language. Want to learn web design? Explore HTML CSS lessons using Google Coder, in partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Know a Minecraft aficionado? Put his gaming passion to good use building his own code to create structures within Minecraft.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK non-profit organization, so every time you purchase a Pi for your school or child you provide funding to continue their educational outreach. Two Raspberry Pi computers, programmed by young students in a UK competition, are even onboard the International Space Station with British astronaut, Tim Peake, recording valuable data! (Ask Amy for a new link to vimeo…neither opened)
The Foundation recently responded to President Obama’s call to action to create a “Nation of Makers” in the United States by committing to training 100 teachers. They provide a wealth of curriculum and lessons for educators in all grades and subject areas, from math to science to history. Raspberry Pi concepts can be integrated within the arts, math, robotics, science, and of course computer programming.
Carrie Ann Philbin, Education Lead for the Foundation and author of the innovative how-to book for children, Adventures in Raspberry Pi, presented at this year’s U.S. Picademy. She mentioned that we should not teach computing only because coding is a trend. Instead, computing is empowering for children, ensuring they can control the future in a world increasingly populated by technologies. Most importantly, children are creative and not afraid of failure, which are traits required for persistence in computing.
(insert the piece Rhoda wants to highlight about the seminar)
Amy Lindgren is an assistant coordinator for CTD’s Weekend Enrichment Programs and now a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator as a result of attending the inaugural US Picademy teacher training (https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/picademyusa/), held at the Computer History Museum (comptuerhistory.org) in California. She is excited to use her curriculum knowledge to continue to grow CTD’s computer science and technology course offerings. Be sure to check SEP’s 2016-2017 course offerings for new and exciting interdisciplinary courses using Raspberry Pi computers!