DIY Linux

5 Reasons to Give Your Kids a Raspberry Pi

Christian Cawley 02-10-2015

The Raspberry Pi 2 5 Things You Can't Do With Raspberry Pi 2 With a quad core CPU and boasts of being able to run Windows 10 – is the Raspberry Pi 2 really all that? Here's 5 things the Raspberry Pi 2 still can't do. Read More 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 Kano: The DIY Computer For Kids To Code and Learn (Review and Competition) Can a small child build a computer and learn to code on it? To find out, I tested it on one 3 year old boy with little experience of computers, and his 9 year cousin,... Read More , which we reviewed in April 2015.


The Kano kit – available for $100 from – 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 How To Teach Kids Programming From Scratch! Read More .


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 How to Install an Operating System on a Raspberry Pi Here's how to install an OS on your Raspberry Pi and how to clone your perfect setup for quick disaster recovery. Read More .

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 LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Review and Giveaway LEGO is a product that transcends generations - I still have a few boxes in the loft. It is one of those few brands that has adapted well to the changing times - introducing themed... Read More 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 Turn A Raspberry Pi Into A Web Server With Google’s Coder Google’s Creative Lab has turned out some software that helps turn a Raspberry Pi into a basic web server. The tiny web server can then be used for web based developmental projects. Read More , or build a home file server Turn Your Raspberry Pi Into An NAS Box Do you have a couple of external hard drives lying around and a Raspberry Pi? Make a cheap, low powered networked attached storage device out of them. While the end result certainly won't be as... Read More . It can even be used as a print server if you have an old non-wireless printer How to Make Your Own Wireless Printer With a Raspberry Pi Want to turn an old printer into a wireless printer for your network? Here's how to make any printer wireless with a Raspberry Pi. Read More laying around.

For more server-related Pi fun, encouraging your children to set it up with Nagios to monitor your home network Turn Your Raspberry Pi into a Network Monitoring Tool Network monitoring software Nagios is quick to install and straightforward to configure –but a waste of a full PC. Raspberry Pi to the rescue. Read More 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 5 Sites to Find DIY Crafts and Projects for Kids and Teens Crafts teach kids how to build new things. These free websites have a collection of DIY crafts and projects for kids of all ages. Read More 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

Related topics: Electronics, Raspberry Pi, Scratch, Toys.

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  1. Anonymous
    October 15, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Hmm, Sooo distributed comments?

    During last summer I explained my daughter (she is 10) how the R Pi, Arduino and sensors works how they could be integrated and told her to come up with ideas.

    In a week she came up with more then 25 ideas and most of them were impractical or already there 2 of them were realy superb which amazed me.

    Yes, the R Pi does not teach how computer works (do one really want to know to be genius). but think of this it can let the young (most creative) brains explore what computer can do. end of the day atleast her brain started putting logic/ideas in place.

    I promised and bought her a Pi and few other components so that she, in my supervision (as someone complained of safety), could create some thing new. She will be taking that in her winter vacations.

    • Christian Cawley
      October 24, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      Hmm. The phrase "how computer works" suggests that you're expecting a Pi experience to teach children about bits, bytes, clocks, kernels, ALGs and more.

      That was never part of the description.

  2. Anonymous
    October 13, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    The video with the two compressed gas cylinders don't appear to have the safety caps on them. If so you're promoting a extreme hazard.

    • Christian Cawley
      October 24, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      Well you really should know that it's difficult to fill a weather balloon with the safety caps on.

      • Anonymous
        October 24, 2015 at 8:33 pm

        Well Christian, either you're just ignorant intentionally or just an oxxxa voter.
        Transporting uncapped cylinders is illegal and stupid. Besides that how would one fill a balloon while rolling the cylinder? But once the cylinder is secured and caps are removed then filling a balloon is so easy a democrat could do it. You have no, nada, zero idea of what is coming out of your mouth.

        • Christian Cawley
          October 25, 2015 at 7:43 am

          Regardless of whether you think I'm an "oxxxa voter" (wth that is) or not, the fact remains that as we didn't make the video, you should take your beef up with the guys who did.

          "promoting an extreme hazard"? yeh, just as TV news promotes terrorism when they show an attack taking place.

          Get a sense of perspective. Also, making a personal attack against a writer can seriously reduce your commenting lifespan.

        • Anonymous
          October 25, 2015 at 9:19 pm

          obama FYI. You, not making the video does not have anything to do with the fact that the practices videoed are extremely dangerous. You, of course, can't and will not comment on that because you are ignorant of safe procedures handling cylinders. Hence your personal attack to change the conversation to something else entirely unrelated. The sense of perspective is to stay on subject. Pointing out unsafe practices is not personal. However you are free to feel that way. Demonstrating unsafe practices is irresponsible which is what was done in the video. Hope you survive yourself, have a nice day.

        • Christian Cawley
          October 25, 2015 at 10:34 pm


          Except, I didn't make a personal attack. You, on the other hand, have made some assumption about me, and decided to inform it with your prejudice towards the POTUS.

          I'm certain that rather than wasting time pointing out your concerns here it would be a far more constructive use of your day to contact the makers of the video, who are completely unconnected with this website.

        • Anonymous
          November 1, 2015 at 4:26 am

          WOW, how did that guy go from safety monitor to political zealot patrol is way beyond me. I only enjoyed the thread because I like surprises and had no idea where the conversation was leading or how it go to where it was. I was like you were talking to someone who was arguing with someone else... I think, not really sure but it was amusing. Great article!

  3. Anonymous
    October 10, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    I have a CS degree and a pretty serious background as an IT admin and hardware guy and I feel like I need all of that to make an Rpi do anything that isn't just following somebody else's recipe. The Rpi by itself also needs extra hardware of various sorts to be cool. That might be a bluetooth module or a screen or an NFC sensor, but it's not going to be stuff that's just going to be sitting around or stuff that a kid is going to have easy access to.

    Following a recipe is a start but it doesn't teach the underlying skills that explore how the computer actually works.

    • Anonymous
      November 1, 2015 at 4:57 am

      not necessarily true, all my kids have one, they use them to learn Linux, networking, and Scratch programming. true you need a monitor and a keyboard mouse combo but the other accessories are not needed until some level of mastery is obtained. Then you can get LEDs and switches, even integrate Arduino's into the project or other items. It will be useful as is and the sky is the limit to what can be done. And since we are throwing around titles to make our opinions appear to have more value, I have a B.S. in Computer Science, a B.S. in Cyber Security and in Electrical Engineering. I have worked in the Computer field of and on since 1983 with over 20 year of experience only taking a break to serve my country as a Paratrooper. I have programmed computers with punch cards and remember having a 300 baud modem. I used Computers before the GUI was used. My first PC had 48k of ram and no hard drive. I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. The Raspberry Pi is an extremely cool device and has many ways of building young minds and old to create build and think of new ways to solve all kinds of problems. SD cards had a crumby life span, so my ten year old programmed ours, with some help, to boot from a small 16 GB micro SSD hard drive. That was her idea, she was not the first, but she had no idea other had done it. So she learned how to research a problem and apply the research to a project and add her own ideas to make it unique. No matter how old or how experienced we can all learn from each other and from simple things.

      • Anonymous
        November 2, 2015 at 12:53 am

        @Chip Estrada,

        You're kind-of undermining your own point. Like me, you have the resources and background to help your Pi beginner. Most people do not, which leaves them in a place where they need to either follow a recipe (which seems to be thrust of educational efforts as far as I can tell) for anything they decide to do or to spend a considerable amount of time learning about the hardware and software components they need to get up to speed and do original work.

  4. Anonymous
    October 3, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    "It’s the LEGO of Computers"
    More like an Erector set. AFAIK, LEGO does not offer motors, gears and such.

  5. Michael Tunnell
    October 2, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    This is really nice approach, the Pi was made for educating after all so this is a great article to share. Thanks.