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CESTEM Adds Raspberry Pi to Technology Loan Program; Hosts Teacher Workshop

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Raspberry Pi Program

This fall, UNCW’s Center for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CESTEM) added 10 Raspberry Pi kits to the inventory available for teacher checkout through the Technology Loan Program. Raspberry Pi is an inexpensive credit card sized computer designed to promote basic programming skills among K-12 students. It is gaining wide acceptance in schools around the world.

CESTEM and the WCE STAR Scholarship Program held a workshop Oct. 18 to introduce the Raspberry Pi to area teachers and share ways it can be used to develop integrated STEM activities for students. Fifteen elementary, middle and high school teachers and a graduate student from UNC Charlotte attended the event. Dave Munson, a graduate student in WCE’s Master’s of Instructional Technology (MIT) program and Chris Gordon, assistant director of CESTEM, led the workshop.

Munson began the workshop by distributing Raspberry Pi kits, explaining the components and showing participants how to set it up. Booklets containing three Raspberry Pi projects designed for kids were also distributed. The projects involved making an Angry Birds game, connecting lights and switches to the Raspberry Pi to create another computer game and developing an interactive map of a local city.

During the three-hour workshop, some participants followed the projects outlined in the guide, and others worked in groups to explore other uses for the Raspberry Pi technology in the classroom.

Munson said students today have grown up with technology and are comfortable with it, but as technology has become increasingly user-friendly all the kids need to do is click. They don’t understand the programming and coding behind the products they use.

The concept for the Raspberry Pi dates back to 2006, when Eben Upton and others at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Lab noticed a decline in the computer science skills of students. They began to collaborate on the design of a product that would help kids learn how computers work, how to manipulate the electronic world around them and how to program. The original goal was to inspire the next generation of programmers and sell 1,000 units of the product they called the Raspberry Pi.

A Raspberry Pi Foundation was created to advance the education of adults and children in the field of computers and computer science. In 2011, the Raspberry Pi entered mass production. Within two years, over two million units were sold. Today, Raspberry Pi has a large community of users. More than 60,000 members contribute to a forum on the website, hundreds of fan sites have been created and the Raspberry Pi has been introduced to students at all age levels around the world.

In June, Upton and his partners attended a UK Technology Reception at Buckingham Palace where they introduced the Raspberry Pi to the Queen of England. At the event a new milestone was announced: sales of the Raspberry Pi had reached 3 million.

Gordon said some students have used the Raspberry Pi for Science Fair projects locally, but it’s not yet in wide use in area schools. CESTEM hopes to change that by raising awareness, facilitating teacher access to Raspberry Pi kits through the Technology Loan program and conducting additional workshops.

For more information on the Raspberry Pi, visit www.raspberrypi.org

A story about the Buckingham Palace presentation is found here:

For information on the CESTEM Technology Loan Program visit,  www.uncw.edu/cestem/loan.html