A Step-by-Step Guide for Getting Started with Raspberry Pi in Your Classroom
Are you a teacher who’s interested in incorporating Raspberry Pi into your classroom?
You may be familiar with the book Your Starter Guide to Makerspaces by self-described “Nerdy Teacher” Nicholas Provenzano in which he describes a Raspberry Pi competition at his school. Each student was given a Raspberry Pi kit and the task to come up with a problem and solution using Raspberry Pi, creating a project that could be done for less than $75.
While the students each created wildly different projects, the learning result was the same: each student learned how to code for themselves.
Here at Vilros, we believe all students should learn the basics of coding as an integral part of living in the 21st century. So, if you’d like to create similar results for your students, but are not sure how to begin, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help you get started using Raspberry Pi in your classroom:
1. Choose the Right Raspberry Pi
First, you’ll want to choose which Raspberry Pi Kit will be best for the kinds of projects you see your students doing. This might depend on their age and their previous skills and/or abilities.
2. Learn the Basics of Programming
Before you can teach your students, you’ll want to learn some programming basics.
Here’s a few things you should know to get started:
- Raspberry Pi has the standard operating system Raspbian Pixel, which is based on Debian Linux and designed specifically to run on Raspberry Pi.
- When you first boot up your kit, you’ll be able to explore menu and desktop options. You’ll find “Programming” at the top of the menu. Though there are many choices, two of the most popular when you’re just starting out are Scratch and Python (other options include Java, Sonic Pi, and Sense HAT).
3. Play with the Software
Next, you’ll want to start exploring the software applications that come with Raspberry Pi.
Libreoffice gives you a suite of applications for basic “office” tasks like word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. A Chromium browser is also included for easy internet access. You can even play games like the special Minecraft Pi, which was designed to draw on the popularity of the original.
You can also explore adding other programs – there are literally hundred available that are open source and free to use!
4. Try a Project
Now, you’re ready to try a project! We recommend experimenting with something fun and rewarding that allows you to play a cool game or create a solution for a real-world problem your students might face.
You can find several great projects to try on our Vilros Projects blog!
5. BONUS: Join (or Start!) a Meetup Group
If you really want to take your Raspberry Pi skills to the next level, consider getting involved with an in-person meetup group where you can get to know other users and share tips and tricks and project ideas. These fun gatherings are often called a “Raspberry Jam.”
If you can’t find a local group in your area, you can always be the pioneer who starts your own. Don’t worry that you’re just a beginner – beginners often make the best group organizers. You can find everything you need to know to setup and run a successful Jam here.
Our team here at Vilros wants to inspire and empower teachers everywhere to incorporate Raspberry Pi projects into their classrooms. We hope you find a project you’d love to try and share with your students from our Vilros Projects blog.
Now let us know: as a teacher, what do you want to learn most about Raspberry Pi in order to develop your skills? And if you’re already a seasoned Raspberry Pi user yourself, what do you think is the most important thing other teachers should know about it?
Let us know in the comments!