As the pace of technology has multiplied, parents’ and educators’ interest in engaging their students in programming from a young age has increased. Society is developing more and more reliant on technology and coding shifted from a nice-to-have skill to nearly essential in today’s workforce. Just as learning communicative languages comes easier if it is integrated into your childhood, coding languages are proven easier for people to adopt if they’ve had some level of exposure to it growing up. Doing something is always easier the second time.
Many programming training methods, boot camps, and online classes have been tried by parents and educators, and the majority have landed on the Raspberry Pi as their tool of choice. This is the perfect little gadget for students and children to tinker with, with minimal supervision, and gain a solid foundation in programming and understanding of computer science.
The Raspberry Pi is a precious tool for kids to introduce them to the world of programming and coding. When the device is installed on their computer, they can almost immediately start the learning process. Not only will it give them exposure to and real-time experience with programming, but it will build your child’s confidence as they navigate through technical problems and language challenges.
The device was released in 2015, and since then, many models have become available with different sets of capabilities. The Raspberry Pi enables students to install multiple programs and files based on their interests, and learn to code alongside them to predict the weather, design and devise their own video games, and even take photos and videos. The device is designed to be the backend technical support of our student’s creativity, and their imagination is truly the limiting factor for what they create!
In addition to the plethora of potential solutions, a Raspberry Pi can enable, it gives children very practical examples of coding concepts that are typically difficult to teach. For example, students can learn how to create a file server for their home, how clients and servers are related, and what risks we undertake with data privacy.
Even better, the Raspberry Pi can be configured with various toys such as cars, trains, and rudimentary robots. This pulls kids away from the screen to see how their work can manipulate something more tangible. The confidence and excitement that result from being able to successfully build and run your own device are enough to keep children and adults engaged, all the while learning valuable technological skills.
The opportunities are endless with a Raspberry Pi. To get you started, we’ve picked some favorites. but we’ve narrowed down some of our favorite projects so you can get the most (fun) out of your device, while also sharing the learning experience with your kids.
The Raspberry Pi really packs a punch. There’s a lot of power in a small package! Although it comes in a small handheld device, the computer can run programs like Microsoft Word and Excel, and even some calculator apps. These programs, you’re used to using on larger, more orthodox computers, can be supported by the computing device your child builds with the Raspberry Pi. Showing them just how powerful programming and computer science can be. Furthermore, working with a Raspberry Pi reveals to kids the relationship between hardware and software, as they will be experiencing both, hands-on.
An introduction to the complex world of file storage, the Raspberry Pi simplifies complicated computing techniques. But it also highlights the security risks associated with storing data online. As cloud computing continues to skyrocket and most of our daily data is stored across cloud and data centers alike, your kids need to know at a young age what that means for personal privacy.
After adding storage space to the Raspberry Pi, kids can use the Linux operating system on the device to remotely access drives using an SSH command. But don’t worry – you can use different server monitoring systems to secure your home network if Linux isn’t your preference!
One of the most popular kits sold for the Raspberry Pi is the incremental Weather Station tools. Raspberry Pi designed this kit to be used in schools to enable kids to create their very own weather stations. They’ve designed a multitude of resources and tools to make it possible. This gadget is sure to excite children and show them the real-world uses of computer science. By configuring a Python operating system, students can collect and record local climate and environmental data. From there, the program runs to allow kids to predict the weather based on the data they collect.
For our gaming kids out there, the Raspberry Pi does not fall short. Just like robotics and coding always do, the Raspberry Pi gamifies the educational process. Students can design and program their own video games. The process makes it easy for you with an easy drag and drop function. Just like the Blockly editor used in the CoderZ online learning tool.
Lastly, but certainly not least, is the capability through the Raspberry Pi to uplevel a student’s Minecraft gameplay. The Raspberry Pi is unique in that it offers custom modifications or mods. Using the Minecraft Application Programming Interface (API) they can customize the game with new graphics and gameplay. Students can change the entire game by just writing short programs. This will allow kids to learn about programming in a fun and familiar environment.
The list could go on and on, and it won’t end while your child’s creativity stays wild. The device is small enough to fit in your pocket but has a world of possibilities. As a parent and educator, try to stay hands-off! Your student needs to familiarize themselves with the device and the language on their own.
You might not understand the code. That’s okay! Sit with them and encourage them to continue probing. Asking questions, and thinking out loud will encourage open creativity and create a safe place for problem-solving. As educators especially, it is important to emphasize that as they begin to encounter bugs and other obstacles, we reward them for getting that far, and use it as a learning point for them to openly question whatthey think might be wrong. By encouraging self-reflection, students build a sense of resilience, and make a successful end product even more exciting! Because they did it all by themselves.
The advancements in computer science will not cease for decades. Engaging children in their early education in the process of design, programming, and robotics will prove beneficial. A device like the Raspberry Pi makes that easy. Need help? There’s tons of resources to help make the shift to self-reliant computer learning possible. Continue to engage in this conversation on our socials (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) by searching @coderz. Happy coding!
For Parkland Magnet MS’ teachers, CoderZ offers up real-world applications that help students actually see how what they’re learning is applicable in the real world—even though it’s only in a computer simulation.
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