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Raspberry Pi

What is Raspberry Pi?

Raspberryi Pi is a small-sized computer with an equally small cost. Consisting of nothing more than a credit-card sized circuit board, Raspberry Pi can do everything you’d expect a desktop computer to do once equipped with a standard keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Despite its tiny size, this marvel of technological advancement can perform routine tasks such as web browsing, playing videos, word-processing, and playing games.

In addition to being a cost-effective solution to computer accessibility, Raspberry Pi helps people of all ages and all levels of income learn programming, and assists them in understanding the fundamentals of how computers operate.

History of the Raspberry Pi

Developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, an educational charity based in the UK, the first incarnation of the Raspberry Pi released to the public wasn’t available until 2012, six years after the conception of the idea. Back in 2008, four experts at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory became concerned with the decline of programming skills present in students applying for Computer Sciences.

Over the following two years, Eben Upton, Rob Mullins, Jack Lang, and Alan Mycroft worked to develop a cost effective computer that growing minds would be free to experiment on and begin learning the basics of programming. By the time they had achieved their goal, processors had become more affordable due to the demand for mobile devices. With this additional cost cut, Raspberry Pi computers would be able to be used for multimedia purposes making the finished product desirable to even those with no interest in programming.

The Christmas 2015 issue of The MagPi magazine included a free Raspberry Pi Zero. This made the Raspberry Pi Foundation the only company in the world to have given away thousands of free computers to their readers.

Project Ideas

The Raspberri Pi has been used in a variety of interesting projects that take advantage of its size, portability, and cost. Its easy-to-program functionality and its compatibility allow users to experiment in tremendous ways. Here are just a few things that have been done using Raspberri Pi:

  • Programming small robotics kits
  • Public access computers for browsing online catalogues and Overdrive
  • Making retro gaming consoles
  • Radios
  • Vegetable instruments – You can create an instrument that allows you to play drum beats by hitting actual beets!
  • Artist Scott Garner was the first to come up with the concept of turning a Raspberry Pi, an amplifier, and some touch-capacitive speaker into a working drum set.

Researchers at MIT have developed a program called Scratch that helps students learn how to program in a unique, engaging way by having them create stories, games, and short animations. Masked by whimsical cartoon characters, the students learn the basic concepts of programming before even beginning to code.

With its low cost and customizability, a Raspberry Pi would be a good addition to your library’s technology training courses or Makerspaces. For those not familiar with the term, a Makerspace (also referred to as a hackerspace or hack lab) are community driven workspaces available for people to learn, invent, and create projects with computers and other technologies. They are a great way to socialize and collaborate on your personal or group projects. We dedicated a whole newsletter on Makerspaces in February. Check it out for more details on how you can get started!

The sheer amount of possibilities may seem overwhelming to start Raspberry Pi, but its official website does an excellent job of providing video tutorials and quick set-up tips to help you get started. Not to mention that the thriving Raspberry Pi online community can offers help, advice, and tutorials on just about any topic.

Once you’ve bought a Raspberry Pi from their online retailer, you can get started with the help section on the Raspberry Pi website with a variety of video tutorials to help you set-up your new computer. There is also a teacher's guide to prepare you to teach others when you are at a comfortable skill level to do so.

For more ambitious projects, check out Instructibles for some ideas.

End of Program Reminder

Industry Canada's Youth Internship Program 2015-2016 is almost done. Please make sure to submit all of your reports by March 31st.

  • Invoices: Please submit an invoice for each month that a Youth has worked.
  • Statistics: Please fill out statistics for each month that you have invoiced.
  • Youth Report: Before finishing their internship, each Youth must complete their end of program Youth report.
  • Site Administrator Report: A site administrator report must be filled out for each Youth that has been hired.
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The Government of Canada provides funding for this initiative.
Le gouvernement du Canada offre de l'aide financière pour cette initiative.