This is what I have so far. Has anyone any improvements to suggest before I email it to the Principal?
The Raspberry Pi computer was created by a team at Cambridge University who were concerned about the drop in numbers of applicants to Computer Science degree courses, and the fact that those who did apply often had little programming experience or understanding of how computers worked.
Reacting to the NextGen report (by Alex Hope and Ian Livingstone), the Department for Culture, Media and Sport commented that: “Classes in computing – known as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – are ‘insufficiently rigorous’ and in need of reform.” When asked about the situation, David Cameron admitted that: "we're not doing enough to teach the next generation of programmers".
The Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is a cheap (£25) single-board computer based on an ARM chip. It has very sophisticated built-in video capabilities and comes with GPIO pins which allow it to control other devices (sensors, motors, etc.). It is designed to use a TV as a monitor, and will use a GNU/Linux operating system.
While many young people in the UK will have access to a computer, the family PC or laptop is likely to be an expensive machine upon which other members of the family rely. Young people are usually dissuaded from experimenting with such computers. The owner of a Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, is free to experiment and learn.
The Raspberry Pi will come with the Python programming language installed. Python is an easy-to-learn and powerful language. Of course, other programming languages can be installed and used. The machine will come with a digital manual, produced by the community under the auspices of the Computing At School working group. There is also a very active online community to support new RPi owners.
It’s likely that any student with an interest in Computer Science will buy a Raspberry Pi. I think it is essential to have the machines in school so that the staff and students can make the best possible progress in learning together.
Many students will not have had much experience of operating systems other than Windows or Macintosh. Linux offers great performance and security advantages over Windows. Many of the servers that power the Internet run Linux. It will give our students a great advantage in the workplace if they learn how to use Linux.
Many of the things we use every day have computers within them (cars often have up to a hundred micro-processors on-board). If our students are to work within the computer industry, they will very likely be working with these types of “embedded systems”. Today, most smart-phones and tablets are based around ARM processors. The ARM-powered Raspberry Pi offers a cheap platform on which to create, for instance, smart-phone apps. Some students may learn to write Assembly Code in order to take full advantage of the chip’s capabilities.
The inclusion of a series of GPIO pins means that the Pi is easily integrated into a potentially unlimited range of practical projects. Possible applications range from robotics, control and monitoring of science experiments to interactive art installations.