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Raspberry Pi in Schools

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Raspberry Pi in Schools

 

 

 

Statistics suggest there are too few UK school children studying the core STEM  (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects and too few school leavers studying STEM subjects at university. All of which means too few graduates are attracted to industry.
"The idea behind the Raspberry Pi came from concern about the year-on-year decline in the numbers, and skills levels, of A Level students applying to read Computer Science in each academic year," said Eben Upton, Executive Director of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Have you heard of the Raspberry Pi?

Not the dessert, but rather a small computer that’s been on the market just over a year.  A Raspberry Pi is about the size of a credit card – and it’s green, not red, as you might expect because of its name. It actually looks like a small circuit board.

The lack of frills – such as a casing, make it cheap – about £28, yet it operates as do some larger computers.  It has ports and interfaces so that you can hook it up to a computer monitor or TV, so that you can hook it up to the network and add a keybord and a mouse.  And that's just for starters!

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In less than a year on the market, the UK's Raspberry Pi Foundation has sold more than 1 million units of its affordable credit card-size computer, the Raspberry Pi.

Produced in Cambridge, the explicit aim of the Raspberry Pi is to re-popularise programming in the UK in the way that the Sinclair Spectrum and BBC Micro did in the 1980s. The initial production run of 10,000 units sold out in minutes as early adopters fought to get themselves a piece of the Pi.  Geek demand is clearly extremely high, but are mainstream schools really equipped to make effective use of this opportunity? Is the arrival of a box of printed circuit boards really going to make a difference?

 

But how might it fit into the School Curriculum?  And Why?

Statistics suggest there are too few UK school children studying the core STEM  (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects and too few school leavers studying STEM subjects at university. All of which means too few graduates are attracted to industry."The idea behind the Raspberry Pi came from concern about the year-on-year decline in the numbers, and skills levels, of A Level students applying to read Computer Science in each academic year," said Eben Upton, Executive Director of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

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There are concerns current information and communications technology (ICT) teaching is inadequate preparation for the future jobs in technology.

All children should learn computer science at primary school, a major software corporation has urged.  A lack of computing in schools put the UK's position as a world leader in computer gaming at risk, said Microsoft UK's director of education.  Steve Beswick was speaking on the eve of the BETT show for educational technology in London.  The Department of Education welcomed the teaching of computer coding, which it said was educationally "vital".  In England the government has scrapped information technology lessons, with a new computing curriculum due next year.

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The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized computer which can do almost anything a normal desktop computer can, and with the changes to the ICT/Computing curriculum, will soon become a common sight in schools across the UK.  

The Raspberry Pi isn't designed to replace your existing PCs, but to complement them.  It was developed right here in the UK to be a small, affordable computer, perfect for young children to use to learn basic programming.  In essence, that's exactly what it is, but it can used for a lot more than just programming.

A great place to start for teaching resources in relation to the Raspberry Pi is the OCR website, which has a section under ICT and Computing specifically for the Pi.  Here you'll find great lesson ideas and worksheets which will give you an idea of just how versatile a resource the Rapsberry Pi can be in schools.

 

Scratch?  Python?  I've no idea!

Does this sound like some confusing jargon?  Scratch and Python are actually two programming languages that pupils often use to start programming.  Neither program is new for the Pi (see useful links below), but both are included free of charge in the latest 'Raspbian Wheezy' operating system - the freely downloadable Linux operating system that can be used to make your Pi go, very much like your PCs might use Windows or Apple operating systems.

 

This is all terribly confusing!!

This was our thought when we got started.  There's a number of peripherals to buy, operating systems to download and install, and then there's the problem that some kit (even some SD cards) wont work with the Pi.  So we've put together an Essentials Kit that contains everything you need to get started - a Pi, dedicated constant power source, keyboard and mouse, SDHC card with the Raspbian Wheezy operating system already installed, and a HDMI cable to connect to a monitor, projector or TV.  If you want to give it a go but don't have the time or inclination to test everything and set up memory cards from scratch, then the Essentials Kit is an excellent cost-effective starter!

 

 

Useful Links


The Raspberry Pi - order yours here today (and get the school invoiced for the goods if that's easier for you!)


The Raspberry Pi Store - Buy your Pi's, bundles and periherals at great prices

 

Quick Start Guide- If you'd like to see how you can get started with the Raspberry Pi, take a look

 

Raspberry Pi Help Page - Lots of help and support available if you've got a problem with your Pi

The Raspberry Pi Foundation - link to video and discussion about the use of the Raspberry Pi in Schools

OCR Website - Lessons plans and resources for schools

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Tech Radar Computing - Examples of Pi projects that have been completed in schools

The Pi Store - Free and Costed Apps for your Pi

Raspberry Jam - Web site detailing a range of meetings throughout the UK by enthusiasts meeting up to discuss the Raspberry Pi  

Scratch - Basic programming language that's popular with children as young as 7!

Python - A more complex programming language