Broadcom MASTERS Finalists Get a Taste of Raspberry Pi

Broadcom’s Eben Upton helping MASTERS participants learn to code on a $25 Raspberry Pi computer.

Looking for proof that the social media revolution has today’s young generation thinking differently? Look no further than the Broadcom MASTERS finalists, a group of inquisitive middle-schoolers who have succeeded in engineering the near-impossible.

Earlier this week at the MASTERS event in Washington D.C., these budding young scientists took on the challenge of enhancing  a basic version of the classic PC game “Snake” by tweaking the code and programming on of the affordable Raspberry Pi computers.

The 30 MASTERS finalists worked alongside some Broadcom employees and a few Howard University grad students who helped them navigate the code and implement programming basics.  The finalists worked in the Python program, the source for the “Pi” in Raspberry Pi, which challenged the students to think logically with its “if-” and “else-” based commands.

See photos from the Raspberry Pi event here.

Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder and Broadcom engineer Eben Upton proposed tweaking the game to include simple changes such as power ups and other graphic changes that would personalize the experience for each team.

But the kids had other ideas. They wanted to change the game to fit how they interact with the world and transform it into – you  guessed it – a social experience. Their goal was to add a multiplayer function. The hack they dreamed up would enable  cooperative or competitive game play among a group.

Henry Samueli watches MASTERS participants alter a PC game’s code with the Raspberry Pi.

The finalists were cheered on by Broadcom co-founder, Chairman and CTO Henry Samueli, who told the students about how he was inspired to pursue engineering. Upton shared his “a-ha” moment as well, and how he developed home grown hacker skills by tinkering with display computers in stores.

It was definitely a programming challenge for the students. When it seemed like every reboot would produce a false start or “syntax errors,” success was finally found — evident by the shouts of triumph that could be heard across the room as these future engineers celebrated their ingenuity and the “sweet” taste of success.

That moment is captured in the video below. Check it out.