Introduce technology and computer science basics by treating students to a heaping slice of Raspberry Pi in education.
These days, March 14 isn’t the only pi in the STEM kitchen. Though it conjures images of a delicious fruit-based dessert, using Raspberry Pi in education supports STEM-for-all efforts by teaching technology basics. Development for Raspberry Pi began in 2006 when Eben Upton sought to develop a small computer that would facilitate computer-science education, which led to his development of a single-board product. Six years later, The Raspberry Pi Foundation released the original device – the Model B – a small, basic motherboard, approximately the size of a credit card.
Over the next six years, fresh Raspberry Pi designs have entered the market, yet the simplicity has remained the same. Through providing bare-bones computers to students, the organization provides a foundation upon which teachers and students can build an understanding of Raspberry Pi in education and mastery of computer science.
Expanding STEM with Raspberry Pi
When looking at his colleagues and the pool of candidates entering the computer science field, Upton recognized the homogeneity of professionals that comprised the computer-science industry. It became his passion project to provide computer science access to all students through Raspberry Pi in education. During an interview with the Centre for Computing History, Upton’s genuine devotion to promoting student use of Raspberry Pi in education is apparent and his mission is clear.
“By going and really doing good work at the school level you get a uniformity of access…the thing I am most excited about is the socioeconomic level…STEM subjects, hard sciences, maths, computing can be a ladder for people…maths doesn’t care if your parents can afford to get you an internship somewhere…you’re either good at maths, or you’re bad at maths. The program either runs or it crashes. The bridge either stands up, or it falls down. You can’t fake it.”
Cooking Up Ideas in Teacher Training
Though The Raspberry Pi Foundation promotes student engagement in computer science, the organization recognizes the need to fully educate teachers who are about to introduce Raspberry Pi in education. In addition to its student publication The MagPi, The Raspberry Pie Foundation publishes a digital educator’s edition. From insight regarding how the maker movement is influencing education to Picademy information, The MagPi Educator’s Edition provides support to teachers who incorporate Raspberry Pi into their classrooms.
Teachers are also invited to apply for a position in Picademy, an event that hosts a maximum of 40 educators for two days of exploring the digital aspects of the maker movement. Following Picademy completion, educators receive Raspberry Pi Certification, allowing them to support efforts to expand the reach of Raspberry Pi in education through organizing a Raspberry Jam, engaging in Raspberry Pi Forums, and developing lesson plans.
Not only are teachers becoming involved in the Raspberry Pi initiative, but British ESA (European Space Agency) Astronaut Tim Peake collaborated with Raspberry Pi to encourage children’s participation in a competition that requested they design experiments for Astro Pi. By offering the opportunity to have the International Space Station team conduct winning student experiments, Peake and The Raspberry Pi Foundation were able to cultivate interest in STEM and generate buzz for these valuable tools among students.
Raspberry Pi devices are priced starting at approximately $25 and different accessories are available. When using Raspberry Pi in education, it is important to remember that these tools were developed to offer a basic understanding of computer science. Some users feel the devices are slow, but the benefits to students are still incredibly strong. Through introducing students to Raspberry Pi, teachers open a new world of computer science to children.