How Raspberry Pi Changed the Game in Computer Science Education


The Raspberry Pi Foundation launched a small computer known as the Raspberry Pi in 2012. Their initial goal was to help improve computer science education in schools and in developing nations. The British organization behind the computer had not anticipated how fast it was going to sell and how popular it was going to become. The computer, in its various models, has been used around the world for various projects, even stretching outside the initial vision.

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The Structure of the Computer

The Raspberry Pi is a small and relatively simple single board computer. There have been several models launched in the series since the initial version, but all these mini computers are about the size of a credit card. The models come in standard and compact form. The board does not come with a case, keyboard, or mouse, but these and other accessories can be obtained separately.

The first six models did not contain wireless capabilities, but since 2017, this has been a consistent feature. Ethernet capabilities are present in some models and not others. Common to all the models is the system on a chip (SoC) feature, a central processing unit (CPU), and a graphics processing unit (GPU) on the chip. The first models had a 128 MB CPU capability, but this has since been increased to 512 MB and 1G, depending on the model. The Raspberry Pi also has one or more USB ports and can support audio and video outputs.

The Importance of Early Computer Science Education

Coding and programming courses have been on the rise in the last few years, and many schools are now offering these to younger students. These skills allow students to use their creativity to design novel programs and to solve real problems today. They also give students a head start into what could be their future careers and make their skillsets more attractive to future tech employers. There’s no denying that coding and programming are an integral part of society today. Now students can begin to create mobile phone apps, computer games, and real-world robots at a young age.

Uses of the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi has experienced a warm reception. It allows students to get into coding right away. It’s easy to use at school and at home and just needs to be connected to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard to get started. Users of the miniature computer can learn how to code in top coding languages such as Python. It can also handle many normal desktop computer functions including surfing the internet, games, spreadsheets, and word-processing. Its small size and low price have allowed millions to be sold around the world.

In education, the Raspberry Pi has been used in many schools. The foundation behind the computer also developed learning materials to accompany the use of their board. In 2018, NASA launched a project to get students more interested in robotics and computer science. In the form of a scaled-down version of NASA’s Curiosity rover came the JPL Open Source Rover Project. This build-it-yourself rover is controlled by a Raspberry Pi module.

The Raspberry Pi has also been used in many automation projects and ventures, both in the home and in industry. The computer is being explored and used in different monitoring systems using the internet of things (IoT) technology. In terms of commercial products, digital cameras and digital media players have been launched using Raspberry Pi modules.

There is so much that can be done with this small computer. Although the processing capability is limited, the Raspberry Pi can still support many beginner and smaller design projects. Children and adults alike are getting their hands dirty with computer science projects that are fun and could potentially make it to market.

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