As an educator my own three children often have to deal with my efforts to prepare them for our uncertain future. My latest journey into preparing for the unknown has led me to explore the Raspberry Pi as a tool for teaching coding for my 7 and 9 year old. Being a total novice, with ideas of grandeur, I researched the best way to enter into the world of Raspberry Pi and bought my 7 years old a Kano Computer ($150). We set off to build the new computer… and we had it done in 10 minutes, a bit underwhelming for a lego-master-builder-family. Once we plugged the device into our HDMI-ready TV my 7-year-old immediately began the gamified-badging-process to both block-code (hack Minecraft) and Python-code to build a snake game. I found Kano’s packaging and age-appropriate content to be effective and efficient for my 7-year-old. And it all came with a Chrome browser.
Super impressed by what I saw, I began investigating more Raspberry Pi applications and build projects more applicable for my 9-year-old. Enter the Raspberry Pi Lunchbox project. We ordered a Raspberry Pi, Touch Screen, and Micro-SD card to create our own computer from a more Spartan approach than Kano’s pre-packaged system. Our goal was to create a Raspberry Pi Lunchbox computer, a wireless system powered by a RavPower portable charger.
Our project was full of excellent problem-solving scenarios which led us to investigate various Operating Systems (OS) and installing software for both functionality and games. I think that my kids learned that problem solving takes resilience and the right DIY youtube video. All in all a super positive experience…
So all of this begs the question: Is a step above 1:1 computing perhaps 1:1 DIY computing? We strive to support students in their careful and cautious 1:1 computing atmosphere but what if they actually built their own computer? Raspberry Pi Lunchboxes for everyone? Why not? It’s cheaper to build and repair and students will have a vested interest in what they have created.