So you've gotten Raspberry Pi – what now?



You finally convinced your administration to buy a classroom set of Raspberry Pis. Once you are through the basic setup, the question will most certainly arise: From here, what now?



Scratch and Physical Computing

The ready-made Jesse Image for the Raspberry Pi comes loaded with a version of Scratch that is already equipped to use the in/out pins on Raspberry Pi for physical computing. There are some great resources for the GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) server in the Raspberry Pi documentation.



The GPIO pins can be used to control games and animations in Scratch, or to build small data logging and control systems. Here is our graphing tutorial from NSTA a few years ago – it can easily be used with the pins to get students working hands-on in the cartesian coordinate system.

The PicoBoard can also be plugged into the Pi and used right out of the box, with no wiring.



There are some fun ideas for getting started in the Raspberry Pi Geek Magazine.


I just discovered Raspblocks, and it seems really great. I haven't had a lot of time to play with it, but the ability to move from blocks to Python and XML is really exciting. Pay particular note that this uses the RPi.GPIO module, which may not be included with the standard image of Raspberry Pi.



Running “sudo apt-get install python-rpi.gpio” from the command line should fix things up.

From there, build your code in blocks, hit download and open the .py file with Idle and run the module. Voila.




Trinket is my new favorite programming interface. It’s a web-based Python compiler that is very functional, and the best part is, it has an Hour of Code block template! While it doesn't offer the option to use the GPIO pins, it does do a tremendous job introducing Python to younger learners with the ability to switch back and forth between blocks and text.





Cayenne might represent the easiest way into the Internet of Things (IoT). It has a great interface, it’s free and it offers both input and output from the web to a Raspberry Pi.

I have some cheat sheets for Scratch if you’d be interested, there is a rough draft here.



There are pretty good instructions for installing Cayenne here.

I've been told my endings are notoriously abrupt, so rather than just dropping the mic, I’ll turn it over to you: What are your experiences, favorite tools and progressions?

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