“Fruit” names tend to signify a fresh concept in computing. In fact, fruit-based names seem to leave a legacy in the history of computing. From Apple to Blackberry and now to Raspberry Pi — a low cost, credit-card sized computer that opens the door for kids around the world to explore computing.
Created by Broadcom Technical Director Eben Upton, who was concerned that his students at Cambridge University did not have basic coding skills that he developed by “hacking around” on computers as a youth, the Rapsberry Pi computer is designed to be cheap (for every wallet from Louisana to Mozambique), cute (in a geeky sort of way) and most importantly, completely open and accessible in order to demystify computers and allow people young and old to “get their hands” into computing. The Raspberry Pi runs on a Broadcom processor, weighs 45g (same as a silver spoon) and can fit into an Altoid tin.
Tapping into children’s natural curiosity, Raspberry Pis give kids an opportunity to learn coding and branch into exploring other math-based applications, such Mindcraft and music programming. With support from the Broadcom Foundation and enthusiastic engineers from Broadcom, these workshops are springing up around the U.S., U.K., Israel, Singapore and South Africa.
In Singapore, Broadcom principal engineer Jeffrey Chin leads an all-volunteer Raspberry Pi team that works closely with local schools and the Ministry of Education to organize workshops and coding events for children.
“We are excited to be on the cusp of fulfilling the vision we set from the beginning – to give every student in Singapore the opportunity to experience the Raspberry Pi and help influence them to pursue STEM careers,” Chin said. “My hope is that future generations of engineers will recall this program as the genesis of their STEM career.”
Like Singapore and many other countries around the world, Israel is committed to advancing STEM learning through project-based learning. More than 50 Broadcom engineers throughout Israel volunteer their time and expertise to mentor students who are working on engineering and science projects of their choosing.
In addition to classroom mentoring, Israel engineers are also working with Tel Aviv University to introduce coding to children. Introducing coding will get kids amped up to experiment with the Raspberry Pi, become comfortable with computer science and ultimately, retain their interest in STEM.
Broadcom Foundation has introduced the Raspberry Pi to South Africa by sponsoring a pilot program in coding for computer course graduates at the
Communiversity of South Africa in Vrygrond, Cape Town. With no formal education in programming, 26 students ranging from ages 18 to 25 were selected based on their high attendance in previous computer courses to learn to code with Raspberry Pi. Lecturer Seyi Poroye, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Cape Town, uses the Raspberry Pi as a tool to understand both the hardware and software components of computer systems. He found that after the Raspberry Pi was introduced, students were enthusiastic about learning to use computers.
“I am truly encouraged by the program and will continue to lend my expertise,” Poroye said. “The motivation and willingness to succeed exhibited by students has surpassed my expectations.”
In Irvine California, students are taking a deeper dive into coding at “U.S. FABcamp”, a summer program supported by the Broadcom Foundation and hosted by Dean Gregory Washington at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. “FAB,” which is short for “fabrication,” introduces students to rapid prototyping and advanced manufacturing and taps into the “maker” movement.
FABcamp is led by UC Irvine engineers in state-of-the art labs. Students focus on a different engineering discipline each of the four days. Projects include coding on the Raspberry Pi as well as designing, building and riding a hovercraft, picks up where schoolwork typically leaves off, allowing each student the ability to apply math and science concepts to real physical systems.
Part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s vision is to make computer coding accessible to everyone with the affordable little Raspberry Pi and the Broadcom Foundation is helping to achieve this.
These Raspberry Pi workshops are a “sweet” way to realize this vision around the world; a vision that will bear “fruit” for many years to come!