Should You Get Your Child a Raspberry Pi?

by STEM Scouts

raspberry pi board

(Photo Wikimedia Commons)

If you consider yourself a maker or follow the tech world, you’ve likely heard of the Raspberry Pi. The credit card-sized, single-board computer was developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the goal of teaching basic computer science in schools. Powered by a simple USB phone charger, the Pi runs the Linux operating system from an SD card and is capable of performing many basic tasks such as word processing, web surfing, and gaming.

However, the popularity of these devices doesn’t stem from their size or simplicity, but from their price point. The latest and greatest board, the Raspberry Pi 3, retails for $35, although there are a variety of models for different projects.

Should I get my child a Raspberry Pi?

If you have a knack for tinkering and want to find a way to share that passion with your child, or if they are interested in tech, a Raspberry Pi could be the perfect solution. The boards can assist in a multitude of projects or provide insight into the modern computer. While it’s great that we can perform complex operations without the need for code, it’s still important to have a basic understanding of how a computer functions. Plus, you never know when the experience might spark lifelong love and a future career path.

What’s the right age to get my child a Raspberry Pi?

If you’re willing to provide guidance or learn to use the device alongside your child, you could begin introducing them to the simple computer as young as 8 years old. However, around the age of 12 is a good time for them to explore it on their own.

Where do I buy one?

The Raspberry Pi and related accessories can be ordered through distributors found on the official Raspberry Pi website. You can also order the Raspberry Pi and its accessories on Amazon.

There are lots of accessories to choose from, but you only need a few basics to get started. You likely already have an ethernet cable, mouse, keyboard, and an external monitor or TV screen with the associated cables at home. But you may need to get a micro-SD card and the appropriate power cord. We’d also recommend a case to protect the board from dust and other elements.

What do you do with a Raspberry Pi?

The options seem virtually limitless. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a great resource for getting started and learning the basics. In addition to some personal computer basics like surfing the web, word processing and gaming, the Raspberry Pi can be used for so much more. Here are some of our favorite projects from Make Magazine and Instructables.

  1. Raspberry Pi Skycam

This project does require access to a 3-D printer but being able to take aerial photos without a drone can be pretty interesting.

  1. Voice Control a Roomba

Hack your household tech and have some fun in the process.

  1. Make a Smart Mirror

Get your morning news, weather, and more while getting ready for the day with this smart mirror.

  1. Voice-Activated Raspberry Pi

Spruce up your Raspberry Pi with inspiration from other household tech. Use the Alexa Voice Service API, found in the Amazon Echo, to voice activate your Pi.

  1. The SnapPiCam

You’ll need some extra boards to get this project under your belt, but then you can say you’ve made your own camera.

Is your child interested in learning more about the Raspberry Pi and other STEM fields? Find a STEM Scouts Lab in your area today!

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