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The Raspberry Pi 2 was released in 2015 and brings improved speed and processing power to the line of computers first launched in 2012. If you don’t own one of these computers and you have children of a suitable age, you need to seriously think about bringing one home.
Put simply, the Raspberry Pi could transform your child’s life.
Don’t believe me? That’s okay, I’ve outlined five reasons below that explain why.
It’s the LEGO of Computers
Buying the bare Raspberry Pi board will give your children lots of fun, but they’ll be left with an exposed circuit board that could do with a case. Bringing the construction of a case into the equation is a good idea, and is the basis of the Kano kit, which we reviewed in April 2015.
The Kano kit – available for $100 from kano.me – is designed for children to assemble. You get a plastic case that snaps together around a Raspberry Pi Model B+, with a choice of color covers. The wireless dongle and cables are brightly colored, and the Kano OS (which you can download separately, for free) is designed to focus the user’s attention on learning how to code and build software, using tools like Scratch.
The learning experience of building the case is reflected in the OS and onboard software, making Kano a great Raspberry Pi introduction for under 10s. If you don’t want to pay for the extra kit, but like the sound of the Kano flavored operating system, it can be downloaded for free and installed the usual way.
Automation Is Coming, and It Will Change Everything
You want your children to use computers, and to understand their importance. Preparing your offspring for a world of automation and software development is not only exercising foresight, it is also helping them get ahead, giving them the chance to build important skills.
In a world where blue collar jobs are falling every day to automation, in a world where robots are slowly taking over menial, hard-working and dangerous tasks, understanding how these machines work and how to program and repair them is already an important job.
Current estimates suggest that the march of automation will be all but complete by 2030. Children being born in 2015 will be graduating into a world of domestic and industrial robots. Even with the intention to study other subjects, having a grounding in software development and computing will be as useful in day-to-day life as math.
The Raspberry Pi Likes Toys
We’ve already compared the Pi to LEGO, and the popular building bricks can be used to build a case for the Raspberry Pi. You can even buy unofficial LEGO-style cases while the Pi can be teamed up with LEGO Mindstorms kits to take robotics learning to a new level, as demonstrated with the successful BrickPi Kickstarter project which is available for $169.99.
If you prefer to keep things more grounded, however, the Pi can be used to control model railways, as seen in this video:
Similarly, a Scratch program can be used to control a Scalextric race track:
Understanding Servers and Personal Safety
A key element of computing is the role of the server. In the increasingly connected life those of us in developed nations enjoy, the server is a remote computer that sends information that we request, whether this be a web page, music, an online game, or something different.
The server-client relationship can be difficult to understand without practical examples, and the Raspberry Pi can be used to teach this. With the Pi, children can develop their first web page, or build a home file server. It can even be used as a print server if you have an old non-wireless printer laying around.
For more server-related Pi fun, encouraging your children to set it up with Nagios to monitor your home network can help to highlight the importance of digital security, an important (and terribly overlooked) aspect of parenting in the 21st century.
Space Travel Is Possible with the Raspberry Pi
Would you like to go into outer space? The dream of children since the 1950s (and probably earlier) was to reach into the stars, but the reliability of rockets for manned missions has been called into question over and over again over the past 60 or so years.
The smart option for Nasa and for hobbyists is to use unmanned missions into space, and while you can’t expect to land a Raspberry Pi LEGO rover on the Lunar surface (yet), you can certainly encourage your children to send one into near Earth orbit!
Above, you can see the video of a successful Raspberry Pi in space launch, achieved using an insulated box for the computer (it’s cold up there!) and a weather balloon.
We reckon you only need one of these reasons to buy a Raspberry Pi for your children. With five, your mind should be truly made up!
If your kids are tech-inclined, you might also want to consider getting them started with coding using these 3 projects for kids using Microsoft Small Basic. Or for many types of projects, these sites have DIY crafts that are great for kids and teens.
Do your kids have a Raspberry Pi? What projects have they completed, with or without your help? Tell us in the comments.
Image Credits:Raspberry Pi 2 by Gareth Halfacree via Flickr