(1-3-2013 update) Check out the excellent Raspberry Pi Education Manual (free download) released today. Announcement here.
"The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming."
A recent profile of Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, explains the motivation behind the project. Upton was in charge of computer science admissions at the University of Cambridge and was disappointed that the number and skill of applicants was dwindling. He wanted to turn this around by making computing more accessible. In this 3 minute video, Upton makes several interesting comments about kids and programming.
"There’s a 5 to 10 minute period at the start of any child’s engagement with programming where it all seems baffling and complicated. Once they’ve made their first couple of modifications to the program and gotten a good result, that’s what gets you hooked, that’s what gets a significant number of people hooked."
This is a very basic, but very important observation. Once we get kids past those first 10 minutes of baffle, their motivation, resilience and learning soar. It's true for adults too, but adults are even less comfortable hanging in there uncomprehending for those first 10 minutes. If they do, the barriers to enjoyable coding are lower than ever.
"One of the advantages children today have with some of these programming languages like Scratch, is that a lot of that framework is already provided for them, so they can concentrate on the interesting stuff."
Raspberry Pi is a pivotal technology in a modest package. Kudos to Eben and his Raspberry Pi Foundation.
Go ahead, buy a Pi (and perhaps a User Guide) and see what you can do."We don’t claim to have all the answers. We don’t think that the Raspberry Pi is a fix to all of the world’s computing issues; we do believe that we can be a catalyst. We want to see cheap, accessible, programmable computers everywhere; we actively encourage other companies to clone what we’re doing. We want to break the paradigm where without spending hundreds of pounds on a PC, families can’t use the internet. We want owning a truly personal computer to be normal for children."
"We expect to see a lot of innovation enabled by the fact that we’ve reduced the cost of computing."
Raspberry Pi in the news:
- Henry, age 12, has been building a Raspberry Pi tutorials site. Have a look! (Retweet from @Raspberry_Pi)