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First, I want to explain that this post is based on my son’s information and his experiences.  Due to him being only 8 (almost 9) he isn’t allowed to take some of the classes he wants to in this area.  Thus, we pursued resources for him.  He is also lucky enough to have a very tech savvy dad and resourceful mom.  Much of the electronic tinkering and hacking my son does is either on his own or with his dad.  All projects he does on his own are reviewed by his dad.  I only provide support in finding resources to assist him.  We also know that many people who are unaware of the maker movement, tinkering, or hacking might not even know about Arduino or raspberry pi.

Here is some basic information to get you started.  Arduino is a microcontroller that is programmable and can do different things.  Arduino is also a brand name of microcontrollers.  Other microcontrollers available are TI’s MSP430, Sunduino, and Funduino.  I’m sure there are even more, but these are the ones my son knows about.  Our son has a kit called Light Up that has an Arduino built into its microcontroller piece or block.  He also has a touch board which operates like its own Arduino.  Raspberry Pi is a miniature Linux-powered computer that can be used with microcontrollers or by itself.  Our son got his first experience with one in his Kano Computer Kit.  By removing the Kano SD card and installing a new SD card they were able to revert it back to just a Raspberry Pi by installing the Raspberry OS.

I am writing this post to inform others about what is out there in order to learn about Arduino and Raspberry Pi for themselves, their kids, or their students.  We need more inventors and tinkerers and these tools are a great starting block.  Age shouldn’t matter.  In addition, the younger students are exposed and learn about these tools, the less scary or intimidating they are.  You never know what project ideas they might come up with.

Here are Arduino specific resources available online:

Here are Raspberry Pi specific resources available online:

Here are great “how to” books for Arduino or Raspberry Pi (Almost all were bought used for cheap and a few were bought directly from Make on clearance.  There are lots of books out there.  Our library did not have any of these, but maybe yours does.):

  • Make: Getting Started with Arduino
  • Make: Getting Started with Raspberry Pi
  • Make: Electronics: Learning by Discovery
  • Programming Raspberry Pi: Getting Started with Python
  • Make: Lego and Arduino Projects
  • Make: Arduino Bots and Gadgets
  • 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius
  • Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius: 28 Build-it-yourself Projects
  • Environmental Monitoring with Arduino
  • Atmospheric Monitoring with Arduino

There are even more resources than what is listed.  However, this is a good start.  Now, go tinker!