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Best age for Pi

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:14 pm
by muc
I'm considering giving my nephew a Pi for Xmas along with the the Adventures in Minecraft book.

He's 9 years old and loves Minecraft but doesn't use a PC other than playing games.
His parents aren't that tech literate.

Do you think the Minecraft book will be too much for him?

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:34 pm
by solar3000
What? My son was 5 when he played with a raspberry pi.
once its running, there isn't much of a difference. except maybe slower and more limited, obviously.
and why not? if he breaks it, get him a $5 pi zero.

also, his 2 year old brother keeps wanting to play with it too.

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:37 pm
by expandables
muc wrote:I'm considering giving my nephew a Pi for Xmas along with the the Adventures in Minecraft book.

He's 9 years old and loves Minecraft but doesn't use a PC other than playing games.
His parents aren't that tech literate.

Do you think the Minecraft book will be too much for him?
How about turning the PI into a retro gaming machine?
http://blog.petrockblock.com/retropie/r ... downloads/
:twisted:

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:44 pm
by stderr
muc wrote:I'm considering giving my nephew a Pi for Xmas along with the the Adventures in Minecraft book.

He's 9 years old and loves Minecraft but doesn't use a PC other than playing games.
This is a common and huge problem. It used to be if you were a kid and had a computer, you were trying to write assembly code by hand and hoping to hack the thing to fly to the Moon. Now you just spend all your time mesmerised by first person shooters. Anything that can be done to short circuit this and get kids involved in what computers should really be about is a good thing. [/quote]

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:57 pm
by jjex22
stderr wrote: This is a common and huge problem. It used to be if you were a kid and had a computer, you were trying to write assembly code by hand and hoping to hack the thing to fly to the Moon. Now you just spend all your time mesmerised by first person shooters. Anything that can be done to short circuit this and get kids involved in what computers should really be about is a good thing.
Well he does like minecraft, so minecraft pi seems to be the ideal vector to introduce code into his play IMHO.

I would also add that it depends on your environment. We had an IBM PC clone when I was a kid, but my family weren't techy, and there was no hope of a kids magazine, let alone a computer one, so I missed out on all that and just played the games I got for birthdays and such. Had there been a knowledgeable source in our childhood, we'd definitely have learnt assembly, but for me and my friends that wasn't our reality. It's the same now - the children of techies and programmers get the exposure and decide if they're interested, but if you're only ever told a machine can play games, it'll only ever be a game machine.

Of course what kids have now is the free resource of the Internet, so all you have to do is plant the spark - he's already interested in how thugs work, he's playing minecraft :-D

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:07 pm
by Woll
Raspberry Pi's are good for people of any age. The younger they are, its probably more easier for them to pick it up.

If your planning on buying one, you may want to read this link about setting one up as it will list all the things you need to run one.

https://www.raspberrypi.org/help/quick-start-guide/

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:38 pm
by davidcoton
jjex22 wrote: he's already interested in how thugs work
:!: :o :shock:

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:02 pm
by zcapozzi
I'm in the same boat. My nephew is 10 years old and last Christmas, he got a kids electronic circuits set. He got super into it and now I'm thinking that he would enjoy tinkering in the software world on a PI. Not sure what the best resources or tutorials are?

Do 10 years olds even respond to tutorials? This thread has been a lot about playing games on a PI, but what about using it to introduce them to Python?

Glad there's a discussion I can jump into on this topic.

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:49 pm
by ejolson
muc wrote:He's 9 years old and loves Minecraft but doesn't use a PC other than playing games.
Skills learned by playing "computer games" could transfer over into more productive uses of a computer. For example, games can familiarize someone with how to log into a computer, how to use a keyboard, how to compile, load and run a program, how to save a file, how to change the working directory, how to install a device driver and how to reboot the computer. On the other hand, closed-source games running on consoles and Windows PCs separate the game player from the underlying computer hardware and offer very little opportunity to learn transferable skills. While Minecraft is closed source, the Raspberry Pi version has a programmable user interface that allows writing programs in Python to manipulate the blocks.

Thinking up things and building them is one of the defining differences between people and animals. Since programming is a way of building things using a computer, it is human nature that many people, once they understand how computers work, are very attracted by programming.

It may be that 9 years old is slightly too young to enjoy much computer programming. Art and music are similar. Child prodigies exist, but after acknowledging that scribbling while learning to hold a pencil is not art, it is more common that a person is 10 or 11 years old before they really enjoy making music or art. As the scribbling confirms, learning basic skills is a necessary first step. In my opinion, it is even more important to develop an appreciation of creating instead of consuming as the first step towards computer programming. Thus, building things with sticks, mud and stones found outside is far better preparation than watching educational television.

Building things with Minecraft using a Python script could be the next step. For a 9 year old this will likely require you giving 3 or 4 tutorials to get started. It may also help if he has an interested peer to share accomplishments with. I like the MagPi magazine. Even if most of it is beyond a 9 year old, the fact that it comes every month would be inspirational and also provide something for the non-technical parents to read.
zcapozzi wrote:I'm in the same boat. My nephew is 10 years old and last Christmas, he got a kids electronic circuits set. He got super into it and now I'm thinking that he would enjoy tinkering in the software world on a PI.
For me 10 was the age where I got interested in computers and 11 when I started to understand how they work. Sounds like some book on physical computing projects such as

https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/offici ... ects-book/

would be a good idea.

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:58 pm
by liz
Have you checked out our free learning resources? https://www.raspberrypi.org/resources/

Lots and lots of age-appropriate stuff in there. We also recommend Carrie Anne's book for kids of this sort of age: the Foundation edition is only £4. http://swag.raspberrypi.org/collections ... on-edition

I put a Christmas shopping list for the Pi fan in your life on the blog a couple of days ago. Check it out for gifts for kids and for adults. https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/christ ... -for-2015/ The CamJam EduKits in that post, which are really excellent value, are a really great learning tool for kids (and they come with free online worksheets) - if you or a parent has the time to lend a hand, you might be surprised at how much they're able to grasp!

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 1:49 pm
by zcapozzi
Thanks for the links. They will be very helpful in getting him started.

And now, I admit I'm a terrible computer science grad for not knowing this, but what is Minecraft? And how do kids interact with it programmatically?

- Zack

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:12 pm
by Woll
It's a block pixel game which you can code.

https://opensource.com/life/15/5/gettin ... necraft-pi

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:27 pm
by Jim Manley
Also known as "MindCrack" for its ability to mesmerize boys from the ages of 2 to 92 who have ever loved Legos, Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Meccano, and the plethora of other hand-eye-coordination-building toys that enable future engineers, scientists, and others of a technical bent to get their groove on as Makers-to-Be. I had a bunch of 11 - 13 year-old boys in 6th - 8th grade physical science classes who asked if they could build a required diorama of the nitrogen, carbon, and water cycles in MindCrack as the girls had already grabbed all of the paper, cardboard, glue, paint, etc. :?

I thought I had them when I said, "Yeah, but you have to annotate each of the steps with text.", to which they simply pointed out the carved wood lettering, and I had to admit they had _me_ there. I couldn't believe what they built in a double-block class period - all three cycles, fully labeled with Yogi the Bear style Jellystone Park signs, with a waterfall coming out of a cloud for rain, a river leading to a shore of a lake, waterfalls going _up_ into clouds over the lake representing evaporation, etc. I still haven't figured out how they did that - it may have been done with an add-on, and the ones that provide fire, electricity and other forms of energy are just mind-blowing :shock:

The value of the Python API cannot be underestimated - showing budding pyromaniacs (aka most boys and a few girls) in the classes how you can build a 10 by 10 by 10 stack of TNT blocks in a millisecond in three nested code loops is "a technology sufficiently advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic", as Arthur C. Clarke sagely observed. Giving dibs to the student who hits the massive block with the sword as everyone stares, open-mouthed, while the screen fills with fire, smoke, debris, etc., to reveal, a solid minute later after the smoke clears and the dust settles, a crater seemingly half the size of the world, rimmed with vegetation with shredded leaves, is one of those rare moments when an educator has otherwise bored, disengaged kids eating out of the palm of their hand. When you show them how to detect when another player gets too close and then teleporting yourself a safe distance away that isn't over a cliff ... well, let the games begin! :lol:

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:58 pm
by zcapozzi
I love the quote about sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic.

Great to hear your success story with this. I'll have to see if I can get him to start playing around w/ Minecraft once we open this thing up.

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 10:08 am
by jimhead
Interesting thread. I'm currently trying to decide if putting a Pi in the living room is a good idea for my 6 year old boy. He is obsessed with anything electronic that has buttons and screens. He could spend all day on the Cbeebies/CBBC website if I let him (thankfully most games are educational/problem solving) but I'd prefer it if he was creating content or experimenting like I did when I was a kid (Amiga 500, Delux paint, Amos etc).

It's interesting that Kano OS hasn't been mentioned yet as I was thinking about trying it out when I get a spare evening to see if it's more suitable than a standard Raspbian OS.

My main concern is that it's yet more screen-time for a 6yo that we'll have to fight to control although that's another issue.

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 11:51 am
by DougieLawson
Just be aware of what he is doing. Also note that the stuff on CBBC/CBeebies is using Flash and won't run on a RPi.

Scratch programming is made for his age group.

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 12:52 pm
by liz
Standard Raspbian is recommended by us; all the tools he'll need are right there.

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 1:09 pm
by Kratos
It's interesting that Kano OS hasn't been mentioned yet as I was thinking about trying it out when I get a spare evening to see if it's more suitable than a standard Raspbian OS.
Use Raspbian. Kano is kinda slow. It has some really cool tutorials built in, but Raspbian is a lot faster.

Kratos

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 3:29 pm
by zcapozzi
Are there any libraries or tools for the Pi that can auto-limit the amount of time kids spend on it? Feels like a script would be able to manage this pretty easily. But if there are tools out there already, might as well use them.

Part of me wishes I'd be gifted the 90's version of a Pi back then. But I'm also glad that it wasn't because instead, I spent all my time playing sports and building tree forts. Wouldn't want to necessarily sacrifice that stuff for more programming expertise.

Hard trade off to figure. If I can develop familiarity with the concepts underlying programming without building dependence on the actual physical thing, that would be ideal.

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 5:05 pm
by ejolson
zcapozzi wrote:Are there any libraries or tools for the Pi that can auto-limit the amount of time kids spend on it?
The idea behind the Raspberry Pi is that it is cheap enough for a child to own. In particular, this means the child should have root access. As a result, one of the first things to learn is how to reformat the sdcard and start over when things get messed up. If you want to lock a system down, you are better off using a Windows PC with secure boot.

From a practical point of view, it is more likely the child will construct a script to automatically log parents out than the other way around. It would, however, be possible for a parent to limit internet by turning the upstream router off at certain times of the day. The easiest way to do this would be to connect the power supply of the router to an automatic timer. Alternatively, you could write a crontab script to change firewall settings.

I agree that there is little point in training a 6 year old to spend more time in front of a screen; especially when at that age most screen time is the consumption of media and not creative. Building activities that do not involve computers, such as making a tree fort, might anyway be better preparation for learning to program at a later age.

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 10:54 pm
by DougieLawson
zcapozzi wrote:Are there any libraries or tools for the Pi that can auto-limit the amount of time kids spend on it? Feels like a script would be able to manage this pretty easily. But if there are tools out there already, might as well use them.
You could use a root cron job to run a "shutdown -h +120" command at boot time. That would turn it off after two hours. But don't blame me when your soon to be angry kid gets upset because the system keeps shutting down right when he's in the middle of using it.

There are no real substitutes for proper practical parenting.

Re: Best age for Pi

Posted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 6:59 pm
by Jim Manley
OK, _now_ we have a project! First, for less than $25, you can add a GPS module or use a Bluetooth triangulating scheme (recently in a Foundation blog post at https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/triang ... office-dog). Then, some software could be developed to pop up a dialog at random minimal intervals instructing the child to move to another location (oh, say, a handy tree fort or other imagination-enhancing location nearby :)). The dialog would be modal so that nothing else can be done until the location has been changed appropriately, even if the Pi is rebooted. The Pi should probably have battery power available for this to work seamlessly.

Obviously, a GUI will be needed that allows us adolts, I mean adults ;), to easily set the locations by moving the Pi to them and actuating a button to record the 3-D coordinates. The locations could be coordinated in time with events such as meal/snack times, bathroom breaks, check-in with adults, feeding pets, etc., and sequenced and/or randomized on a by-location/event basis. The name for this project? How about "Gee Pi Yes!!! (tm)(r)"?

Another way to get kids up and physically active with a Pi is if it's installed in even the most minimal robotic mechanism that can move as far and fast as a remote-control (R/C) toy vehicle (equipped with plenty of rechargeable batteries). In fact, integrating a Pi with such a toy would make for a great adult/child project. If only there were a MAGazine dedicated to the PI that features how-to articles and even includes the nearly ZERO-area footprint computer that would be just perfect for this sort of thing ... :lol: