Raspberry Pi – A Learning Tool For Electronics

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Priced in the region of £25 in the UK, the creators of the Raspberry Pi foundation claim that this cheap little computer isn’t necessarily the answer to computer science education issues, but it could be the catalyst for a vast improvement of the quality of the teaching.

Something has been lacking in computer science education in recent years. Students are not being inspired in a way that the booming IT industry would suggest they should be. Teachers have been struggling to provide interesting tools and projects for their students, meaning that the interest surrounding the subject is waning. And trendy pieces of kit to encourage kids to take up computer science as a hobby or an area of study have been few and far between.

The Raspberry Pi appears to be on the market to solve all of these issues. First and foremost the name of the kit is already more interesting and witty than most motherboards. But more importantly the usability of the Raspberry Pi is ideal for teaching kids how computers work.

High Definition Video Playback And Much More

The Pi itself is a simple, small motherboard with a variety of components that you would expect to find on any standard computer. Home to a 700MHz processor, 256 megabytes of RAM and a VideoCore IV GPU which is capable of HD video playback, the Pi appears to be a solid processing unit considering the meagre price tag. The absence of a solid state drive or hard disk is made bearable through the inclusion of an SD card slot and a USB port with an eye on connecting an external hard drive.

The Pi comes in two models. The B model Pi contains all the same features as the A model described in the previous paragraph, with an additional USB port and an Ethernet adaptor allowing further flexibility in peripheral additions and connectivity.

Pi In The Classroom Not Just The Kitchen

The Raspberry Pi foundation is planning an extensive educational rollout in the coming year, to allow schools to easily pick up the Pi as a teaching platform. Details of the release are sparse at the moment. However there are certain obvious educational benefits the Pi presents.

The initial benefit of the Pi is its carelessness. Many children see a computer as some form of magic box with a monitor and keyboard attached. The Pi immediately breaks that fallacy and thrusts students into a world of curiosity about the individual components they see and their specific tasks. Breaking down the culture of expecting computers to ‘just work’ out of the box and getting students to understand their inner workings from an early age would be a significant step in computer science education.

The Pi Is An Empty Case, Choose Your Filling, And What You Use It For

The inspiring potential of the blank canvas that the Raspberry Pi represents is realistically the greatest, most attractive feature for prospective students. The endless possible customisations of the Pi combined with its size and portability make fashioning it into something like a media streaming hub, a gaming platform, or using it in tandem with simple robotics and environmental sensors.
The Pi is the most attractive educational ploy to hit the computer science industry in a long time. Here’s hoping the (circa) £20 computer makes a big impact, and as many kids as possible get a slice of the educational fun.

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