My summer project for the boys and me came in the mail yesterday: a Raspberry Pi. It’s a tiny computer (motherboard) that you can use to teach programming to kids. It also has many real-world uses. My real-world use for it will be to replace our huge computer tower that we have by our TV with this tiny computer.

We use the computer tower to access the internet through our living room TV, which is how my youngest child watches homeschool videos. We don’t really use the hard drive part of the tower, so I’d like to move the whole tower to a computer desk where it can be used as a computer instead of a media center. This credit card-sized motherboard can sit on a shelf  and be our media center instead. Bonus: more space in the entertainment center!

Before I do that though, I’m going to let my kids play with it first. I borrowed a book from the library called Adventures in Raspberry Pi.

I’m going to have either Corran or Thias (or both!) program through the book. The main programming language used is Python. Corran has already had a taste of Python and says it is a little bit harder than Java. That is okay. I think once he sees what he can do with this little computer, he will be excited!

I ordered our Raspberry Pi 3 Model B through Amazon for about $40, although now it has gone up to around $50. There are also newer models out now.

I had seen pictures of the motherboard online but nothing prepares you to see it in person. It is tiny!

Four USB ports (we plan to use two of them for a mouse and keyboard) and Ethernet. There is built-in wireless but it is still useful to have the option for a wired connection.

Full-size HDMI port for hooking up a monitor or a TV.

Audio/visual connection and a camera interface (For the Raspberry camera).

The micro SD card slot is on the underside of the motherboard.

I think the Raspberry Pi also has some applications in robotics and possibly with our Lego Mindstorms robot. We are going to start with the programming part first and then go on from there. If I am able to use it as our living room media center, then we will probably need to buy another one or two to use for other applications!

-Lynn

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  1. We’re studying Python now as part of my husbands college classes and are hoping to get our 9 year old interested in learning as well. This might be something we should look into. It might be helpful to my husband to play with this alongside The Kiddo as well.

    1. Lynn-Marie

      I’ll be posting about how the Pi works for us. 🙂 It will probably be our project either next week or the week after. We were busy this past week working on a Lego Mindstorms project. If your child likes Minecraft, there is a company called Youth Digital that offers online mod design classes in Java for ages 8 – 14. They are expensive if not on sale, but if you can get them half off they are a good deal (sometimes they are on Groupon)! My two oldest kids love their classes!

  2. A_Boleyn

    Amazing what’s available for kids these days. The only programming I did (in uni MANY years ago) for a course was in Fortran with WATFIV and the instructions were typed onto punch cards and submitted to see if it worked. We had to pick up the results the next day.

    It’s always nice to see how your whole family gets into these projects.

    1. Lynn-Marie

      Corran already knows more about programming than I ever did in college.

      1. A_Boleyn

        That’s the way it is these days. 🙂

  3. tootlepedal

    I used to use an interface with a BBC computer to make little robots with the children in my class in the 1980s using LOGO as the programming language. I have seen the PI mentioned and I must say that I have a hankering to buy one just for fun.

    1. Joshua

      They are not very expensive, so it looks to be a great toy/hobby.

    2. Lynn-Marie

      We’ll be playing with the Pi next week or the week after if possible!

  4. Great overview of the features! I’ve been very interested in the Raspberry Pi, once the little ones get older I’m totally going to swipe this idea and let them play with it.

    1. Lynn-Marie

      Thanks for your comment and for stopping by and following! I haven’t let my oldest play with the Pi again yet (he’s only gotten to try it out once), but it was a really great group activity for my kids. We hooked it up to our television along with a mouse and keyboard and power source so they all just piled in the living room to watch. All of them were fascinated by what he was able to do with it, and two of his brothers begged to try it out too. I was supposed to write a follow-up post to this one about what they did with it, but haven’t gotten to it yet!

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