The Raspberry Pi and the book monster – Session 1

I created packs of Raspberry Pi materials for the children to utilise during our first session at St Francis with small groups of children from each of the schools.

The packs included a Raspberry Pi, a clear Pi case, power supply for the Pi, HDMI cable, a serial to HDMI converter and power lead (the monitors we were using had no HDMI input), monitor with serial cable, an LED, an SD Card with the Raspbian OS installed and some custom built jumper wires. I used the keyboard, mouse and ethernet cable from existing PCs in the ICT suite.

The session looked at understanding what a Raspberry Pi is, how to connect the kit in the box to the various ports and running the Pi from the SD card. The children were great and thoroughly enjoyed connecting the components and learning an assortment of acronyms such as LED, HDMI, USB, etc.

On start up the Pi is set to open to a command line interface not a usual desktop interface and the children had to login and use the startx command to get a more familiar desktop interface.

We discussed the settings the Pi used when booting up and decided we would change some of this for ease of use later.

From the command line interface we typed sudo raspi-config to enter the Configuration Tool and made changes so that the Pi booted to the desktop and made the default audio output the 3.5mm audio out rather than the HDMI output because we will be connecting speakers later in the project.

We were then introduced to the concept of coding and that everything the Pi can do is coded somewhere. We want on the Internet and found the default search engine was duckduckgo.com and discussed changing this to Google. The only way we could do this was to edit the code in the Raspbian OS. The children became aware very quickly of the importance of syntax and that any slight error in creating / editing code could result in the Pi not working properly. The children carefully carried out the task below and were very excited to see that they had changed the way the Pi operated the next time they used the Internet and it defaulted to Google.

Original code

<key type=”s” name=”keyword-search-url”>
<default>’https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%s&amp;t=raspberrypi'</default>
<summary>URL Search</summary>
<description>Search string for keywords entered in the URL bar.</description>
</key>

Carefully change the code in bold to the code below

<default>’https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=%s'</default>

Next we were introduced to the GPIO (general purpose input output) pins and used the jumper wires and the LED to create a simple circuit (using the Pi as a battery) to light the LED.

The children were very focused and I was impressed with their ability to work with a new device collaboratively and effectively.

About Paul Scott

Curriculum Innovation manager working strategically with local, regional and national partners ensuring the service’s provision continually evolves to meet the needs of schools, the local community and businesses.
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