The Raspberry Pi Foundation has made computing more fun and accessible for countless people across the world. More than 40 million of their low-cost, credit card sized Raspberry Pi computers have been sold in the 10 years since its introduction, each backed by unrivalled levels of community support.
In January 2021, Raspberry Pi turned its attention to the popular microcontroller space with the introduction of the ground-breaking Pico. Designed specifically to interface with real-world projects, the Pico is easy to use, packs impressive power, and is available for as little as $4 – opening a whole new world of computing possibilities. Over a million orders were placed in the first month alone and it has since become the go-to controller for many hobbyists.
Despite this, many regarded the Pico’s lack of onboard wireless as a significant drawback. Although options existed to add separate wireless functionality, the complexity of retrofitting Wi-Fi distracted from the Pico’s simplicity and price point. The Raspberry Pi Foundation was well aware of this and other feedback, and in June 2022 announced three new upgrades: The Pico H, Pico W, and Pico WH. The ‘W’ indicates on-board Wi-Fi while the H signifies pin headers, two conspicuously absent features of the original Pico.
But before we compare the features of these new offerings, let’s look again at what makes the Pico so special.
You may have heard a lot about coding and how important it is for children to start learning about coding as early as possible. Computers have become part of our lives, and we’re not just talking about the laptop or desktop computer you might have in your home or on your desk at work. Your phone, your microwave, and your car are all controlled by computers. And those computers need instructions to tell them what to do. Coding, or computer programming, involves writing those instructions.
If children discover a love for coding, they will have an avenue to make the things they want to make. To write programs and build projects that they find useful, fun, or interesting. So how do you give your child the opportunity to learn about coding? We’ve listed some free resources and suggested activities below.
If you have a young child under about 7 years of age, then a great place to begin is with ScratchJr. This is an app available on Android and iOS phones and tablets. That lets children learn the basics of programming, without having to worry about making mistakes.
Code Club World
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has developed a series of activities for young learners, on their journey to developing their computing skills. Code Club World provides a platform for children to play with code to design their own avatar, make it dance, and play music. Plus they can share their creations with other learners.
For 7- to 11-year-old children, Scratch is a good way to begin their journey in coding, or to progress from ScratchJr. Like ScratchJr, Scratch is a block-based language, allowing children to assemble code to produce games, animations, stories, or even use some of the add-ons to interact with electronic devices and explore physical computing.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has hundreds of Scratch projects that your child can try out, but the best place to begin is with our Introduction to Scratch path. Which will provide your child with the basic skills they need. And then encourage them to build projects that are relevant to them, culminating in their creation of their own interactive ebook.
Your child may never tire of Scratch, and that is absolutely fine. It is a fully functioning programming language that is surprisingly powerful, when you learn to understand everything it can do. Another advantage of Scratch is that it provides easy access to graphics, sounds, and interactivity that can be trickier to achieve in other programming languages.
Our Python resources cover the basics of using the language, and then progress from there. Python is one of the most widely used languages when it comes to the fields of artificial intelligence and data science. And we have resources to support your child in learning about these fascinating aspects of technology. Our projects can even introduce your child to the world of electronics and physical computing with activities that use the inexpensive Raspberry Pi Pico. And a handful of electronic components, enabling your kids to create a wide variety of art installations and useful gadgets.
“Trying Python doesn’t mean you can’t go back to Scratch or switch between Scratch and Python for different purposes. I still use Scratch for some projects myself!”
Tracy Gardner, Computer Science PhD, former IBM Software Architect and currently a project writer at the Raspberry Pi Foundation
The Web is integral to many of our lives. And we believe that it is important for children to have an understanding of the technology that drives it. That is why we have an Introduction to the Web path that allows children to develop their own web pages, focusing on the kinds of webpages that they want to build, be that sending a greeting card, telling a story, or creating a showcase of their projects.