Raspberry Pi projects you can tackle with the kids this Easter

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Like the BBC Micro in its day, the Raspberry Pi mini-computer is an accessible way to get children and families into the world of computer hardware and coding/programming.

The Cambridge based company works to empower people all over the world through ‘digital making’. Able to solve the problems of today and equipped for the jobs of the future in our increasingly digital world.

The computers aren’t very expensive. They only cost around £30 and you can get them working with a cheap mouse and keyboard, and SD card (or microSD card on the latest Raspberry Pi 3), plus any special bits of hardware or software you might need.

It lets adults, children and families take on all sorts of computing projects and make them simple and easy to tackle. Many of the projects are complex, but one of the best things about using Raspberry Pi is that there is so much information and open-source content out there for them.

If you and the kids are bored this Easter break then a good project to sink teeth into

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, which operates as a charity in the UK, puts a lot of focus on education and you’ll find loads of great projects, training and resources on the Raspberry Pi website.

What is a Raspberry Pi? from Raspberry Pi Foundation on Vimeo.

Learn the basics of programming by creating gravity in Scratch

Raspberry Pi means learning all about computers. And you can’t learn about computers without learning how to programme. Thankfully, Raspberry Pi supports software that makes coding easy.

In one introductory activity on the Raspberry Pi website, children can learn how to simulate them in Scratch with code and the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s cat Mooncake.

Scratch is a special kind of graphical programming feature with an easy ‘drag and snap’ interface. It can be accessed on a Raspberry Pi computer and can teach children the fundamentals of computing instructions.

To celebrate Tim Peake’s latest trip to space, the Raspberry Pi Foundation published a guide to controlling gravity in Scratch to get kids interested in programming and space.

Turn an old TV into a smart TV

Raspberry Pi computers can also be used in hardware projects. There are all sorts of add-ons and modules like cameras and sensors that you can use to turn your Raspberry Pi into something completely new.

One of the easiest hardware projects you can do is turning an old television or PC monitor into a de facto smart TV capable of streaming movies and television programmes from sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

It’s also a great opportunity to teach your kids a ‘make do and mend’ approach to life and upgrading technology.

All that’s required is that you connect the Rasperry Pi to your TV and download some special streaming software onto it. Here’s a video that explains in more detail.

If you are good enough, you could one day have a go at making a smart mirror, which is done in much the same way as the Raspberry Pi computer but with a two-way mirror.

Learn Python coding with Minecraft

Are your kids already into Minecraft? They aren’t alone, Minecraft is almost as popular with the latest generation of school children as Lego was for previous generations. It follows much the same pattern as Lego, but of course everything is digital.

Minecraft released a special version on the Raspberry Pi that allows users to ‘mod’ Minecraft to do things you wouldn’t be able to do in the original version of the game.

Doing this requires the use of Python which is far more complicated than scratch, but there are lots of online tutorials to use as a guide. Here’s a basic video to help you get started.