Thursday, February 26, 2015

Igniting Innovation, Invention, and Inquisitiveness through Raspberry Pi

Today’s blogger is Stacey Schmidt, Superintendent of the Porter Township School Corporation in Valparaiso, Indiana.

As a child, there was little I loved more than finding things around the house and inventing a new game, finding a new use for an object, or investigating something I found in nature.

Regularly I had the opportunity in school to do the same thing—take a found object and create something new from it. I am thankful for those hard working teachers that ignited my need to innovate, invent, and be inquisitive about the world. Although my days in school are long ago, our students experience these same needs. It is important for schools to continue to consider how to provide experiences for students that nurture that need for exploration and creativity. Have you watched what Sir Ken Robinson has to say on the matter?

 Sir Ken Robinson: How Schools Kill Creativity

While there are several ways that teachers incorporate innovation, invention, and inquisitiveness into their instruction, one that I have been reading about lately (and hearing about from my awesome technology crew!) is called Raspberry Pi.  In a nutshell, this is an extremely low cost computer ($35—additional components needed to make it functional) which can browse the internet and do what a traditional computer does but also allows students to learn basic coding languages, work in digital creation, and learn the basics of how computers work allowing them to invent.

Schools have been utilizing this little device to create an open environment allowing students to do some pretty amazing things! Students have worked on creating weather stations, creating video games based on literature,  using it to engineer projects and inventions,  building robots utilizing 3D printers,  inventing dog feeding systems,  and designing plant care systems just to name a few. You can even utilize the Raspberry Pi with Minecraft.

Additionally, there are many resources available to help schools learn how to utilize a Raspberry Pi in whatever setting might be appropriate. They have developed teach, learn, and make resources which provide great starting points for schools.  There are also free professional development resources  though the company or available on YouTube in case you’re like me and need help getting started.

I have just begun my exploration into this tool.

This is the first model of Raspberry Pi which my tech team has purchased.

There is a lot of learning left for me—and discovery about how best to unleash interested students to innovate, invent, and be inquisitive about it. As I believe it is essential to be a learning leader--this particular device pushes me outside of my comfort zone which I like.  What I most certainly know is that if I put this in the hands of students they will be fast to figure it out—while I’m still watching a YouTube video on how to make this thing work!

Raspberry Pi is just one tool to ignite the minds of our greatest treasures, our students. What activities have you done lately to achieve the same goal of igniting innovation, invention, and inquisitiveness?


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