Raspberry Pi Activities

The Raspberry Pi is a very small computer (about the  size of a credit card).  It was developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to encourage the teaching of basic computer science in schools, and in the words of the Foundation “put the fun back into learning computing.”

One of my ongoing projects at school has been to run a Raspberry Pi extra-curricular club for upper Key Stage 2 students.

Raspberry Pi B+

This is the Raspberry Pi B+ model, which replaced the original in July 2014. As with the previous model, the circuit board and chips are fully visible. There are several peripheral components that are needed to run the Raspberry Pi, including a USB keyboard and mouse, a micro SD card (with Raspbian installed), HDMI cable and a monitor.

Raspberry Pi Club Objectives

At the beginning of each Raspberry Pi session (lasting 1-hour) we go over the main objectives for the activity, which are written up on the whiteboard. The objectives, key terms and instructions are deliberately kept short in order to promote questions and critical thinking from the students.  The students then follow the activity handouts (above).  Each activity handout uses an intuitive colour-coding convention in which instructions are in black, relevant background information is in blue and any definitions are written up in red.

 

Raspberry Pi Club

The first session begins with students setting up the Raspberry Pi computers, familiarising themselves with all the relevant hardware and software. Minimal instruction is given to the students, so that they can better understand the role of each component firsthand.  Once students are familiar with the hardware, they should get into the habit of disassembling the different components too.

 

 
Before you use the lesson activity handouts, you will need to make sure that the school’s firewalls do not prevent you or your students from installing programs on the Raspberry Pi. Firewalls can block users from installing software without administrative access. Most schools have firewalls to make sure that there is sufficient bandwidth. When running a Raspberry Pi club, talk to your system administrator to make sure that the Raspberry Pi devices are exempt from the firewalls in place. This is because occasionally you or your students will need to install certain programs in order carry out the activities. The system administrator can remove firewalls for the Raspberry Pi devices by making a note of their IP addresses and including these as systems not included in the firewall protection. Users of the Raspberry Pi computers can then install software through the LXTerminal without any problems.