That’s a super question. What IS so great about Raspberry Pi? The truth is that as Linux computers go they’re kinda underpowered and way more complicated than a computer running Windows. Plus most kids have access to some kind of home computer already so even the much talked about low low price is unimpressive compared to free.
Isn’t it better just to use a laptop or home computer if all you’re planning to do is learn Scratch or Python?
Well yes those are good points. If *all* you want to do is learn programming then any old Windows, Mac or Linux computer will do just fine. Got an old one laying around the house somewhere? Sure – dust it off and give it to your kid.
But there’s so much more to computing than just programming. And there’s so much more to programming than just software. There are a number of wonderful things about Raspberry Pis. First of all they put your kids back in touch with the history of computing. They’ll see a command line. They’ll learn that there are other windowing interfaces than Windows. They might even figure out user accounts and services and how to compile stuff – if they get interested and start to go deep. Setting up a Minecraft server is a GREAT way to tempt a young teen into learning some command line voodoo.
There’s also the simple hardware involved that is useful to learn. Seeing a 9 year old learning what plugs in where on a Raspberry Pi will remind you just how much knowledge you take for granted. They learn simple stuff like what a USB port is, where the sounds come from in a computer and how to chain multiple 4-way adapters together (KIDDING! – Don’t do this!).
For the really keen there’s also a wealth of hardware hackery that’s possible with a Raspberry Pi that you simply can’t do with a PC. Plus there are simple Python libraries and a million YouTube videos showing how to make simple, or complex, hardware projects.
But I think the very best thing about Raspberry Pi is the Raspberry Pi foundation. There is simply so much stuff going on around Raspberry Pi that it’s worth getting on board for the opportunity to join in all those events such as Picademy and Raspberry Jam. And Raspberry Pis are a regular feature at Code Clubs and CoderDojos. The momentum of the Raspberry Pi movement is quite simply its most compelling facet. So if you’ve got 30 quid to spare go get one.