If the terms NOOBS, Python or Scratch sound unfamiliar to you, or if your child comes to you asking for a raspberry pie, but it has nothing to do with a delicious dessert, you may need to seek help. Technical help that is. The good news is, the remedy is simple, and it comes in the form of an easy-to-read book.
Raspberry Pi For Kids For Dummies by Richard Wentk offers a thorough introduction to the Raspberry Pi computer and 13 interesting projects to try. The book is geared for kids ages 8 to 18, and it is a comprehensive guide to getting started with, programming, and troubleshooting the Raspberry Pi computer. A Raspberry Pi is a very small, affordable computer board that is easy to program, and costs around forty dollars. It is easily connected to a home television, and uses other basic equipment like a computer keyboard and mouse to operate.
Whether your child is a step-by-step learner new to the Raspberry Pi, or a current owner looking for new and interesting applications, this book will be useful. For beginners, the book outlines each step necessary to get a new Raspberry Pi computer up and running fairly easily. The book then provides detailed instructions for activities and projects involving programming, software, website development and even webcam projects.
I liked that the book is straightforward and somewhat simple in its explanation on how to set up the computer. But the depth of projects and activities it offered for kids to explore really caught my attention. While the book suggests a five-week program to explore the nuts and bolts of the Raspberry Pi computer and work on the projects, not all children may want to follow the book from cover to cover. It’s just as easy for kids to pick and choose projects based upon their interests using this book once they get the computer set-up.
The well-rounded selection of projects will appeal to many different styles of learners. Some kids will want to straight-code their way to success, while others will find satisfaction in creating music or artwork with the Raspberry Pi. The book also contains more advanced projects for kids who are ready to create their own web server, and it even teaches kids how to take photos with a webcam and the Raspberry Pi. Kids can also use the Raspberry Pi computer to make their own software using Scratch.
I encouraged both of my children to use this book. My son, who is in middle school, easily set up the Raspberry Pi by following the book’s instructions and downloading the NOOBS (New Out of the Box Software) and connecting the components to a television screen. My daughter, who is entering fifth grade, tested out some of the projects and activities. She was very interested in the chapter titled “Sonic Pi,” which outlines how to use the free music synthesizer and sequencer. My husband and I watched as she turned words and numbers into notes and melodies within a few minutes time, and began to understand computer coding in the process.
The second most popular activity for my daughter was the Minecraft application using Python as the computer language. The Raspberry Pi includes a scaled-down version of the game, and the book explains how application program interfaces (API) control games and other popular applications that we use on a daily basis. I was impressed how this book distills detailed technical information and delivers it in an easy-to-understand manner, and relates it to a fun and very popular activity. My daughter was eager to play a new version of a favorite game.
While we didn’t have five weeks to play around with the projects in this book, I can say that the projects we tried in our home were well worth the effort. I would strongly recommend the book Raspberry Pi For Kids For Dummies as a resource for kids who are currently exploring or interested in coding and using the Raspberry Pi computer. The book is very helpful to parents, too, who want to better understand how this neat little computer can teach children the basics of coding and application development.
For more information about the Raspberry Pi computer and its applications, please visit the Raspberry Pi Foundation. To learn more about Scratch, please visit the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. Scratch can also be accessed directly from the website without the Raspberry Pi computer.
Disclosure: Disclosure: The author received a copy of the book for review purposes only. All content and opinions expressed are the author’s own. Some links provided in this story are affiliate links. A small percentage of purchases made through those links are earned and used to cover the expense of running the site. Thank you for clicking!