An invitation to join the Raspberry revolution...in MarlboroughMarlborough's first 'Raspberry Jam' is being held on Sunday, March 4 - part of worldwide celebrations to mark the sixth birthday of the Raspberry Pi mini computer.
Any the wiser? It's worth reading on as this is an intriguing development in the power of computing that has many, many thousands of followers - young and old, but especially young. And the Marlborough Area Development Trust (MADT) has been busy introducing Raspberry Pi to Marlborough - with help from a grant from the Community Youth Fund.
What is a Raspberry Pi and what is a Raspberry Jam?
A Raspberry Pi is a small, affordable, easy to use single board computer, first launched in March 2012 by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Designed and made in the UK, it was aimed at teaching, learning and making.
More than 14.5 million of the different types of Raspberry Pi have now been sold worldwide and there are now two main formats:
The main product is the Raspberry Pi 3. With a wireless keyboard, mouse, power supply and all necessary bits and pieces needed to plug it in to an existing HDMI screen or TV, it costs less than £75. This set up provides a fully functional, general purpose computer, loaded with software that supports coding development - particularly with Scratch and Python.
The Raspberry Pi Zero W is an even smaller version that really is a fully functional single board computer. It was launched in November 2015. This extraordinarily cheap version has a starting price of just £4.50 for the computer board on its own. It is the perfect version for anyone who wants to incorporate a computer into stand-alone projects like robotics or web cams and so on.
A Raspberry Jam is a community organised Raspberry Pi-themed event. These are held throughout the world to introduce Raspberry Pi's to new enthusiasts and to explore new ways of using them. And there will be many such Jams to mark Raspberry PI's sixth birthday. There are more details here.
The Marlborough events - for details see below - are aimed at introducing the Pi to as many people as possible - of all ages - and helping them use it to ‘make’ things. There will be a particular focus on the under-18s.
The details of the demonstrations that can be seen and used at this event are here and of particular note is that they are offering hands-on workshop sessions that can be pre-booked – full details are here.
There's a back-story here: from early 2017 MADT has been ‘running with’ a new project that focuses upon what is generally called ‘digital making’. This global phenomenon establishes what are called ‘Makerspaces’ – a community ‘space’ available 24x7 with tools and facilities that enable digital making.
MADT's project was started with the dual aims of eventually creating a local Marlborough area Makerspace, and also to drive various educational activities to encourage ‘digital making’ and ‘coding’ particularly for the under-18’s
As a first step in the project MADT set up a very informal local Maker Group that a handful of enthusiasts have joined, and to support both the Group and the project’s educational aims they set up a ‘virtual’ Makerspace.
The educational activity is however MADT's main current emphasis. This aim has been underlined by all the recent press about a rapidly developing Fourth Industrial Revolution and the forecast that 90 per cent of all new jobs will require some degree of digital skills - so broadening and deepening youngsters' education with coding and practical digital making is becoming much more important.
During last summer, as MADT's educational aims firmed up, they invested some of their own funds in a set of Raspberry Pi based equipment. This kit was used to create a mini roadshow that could demonstrate and promote digital making - particularly with Raspberry Pi’s. This set up was then used to carry out two initial events at Marlborough Library last September.
The Trust then developed a set of Digital Making Kits that would encourage and underpin a newbie Raspberry Pi user in their first steps in digital making. These Kits were shown at the September events and are now available for purchase at the Maker Group website - click here for more details.
They realised that they needed to be even more pro-active and wanted to see how a Digital Making Club could be set up at St John's Academy. The Club would need proper equipment - so with the help of Helen Bradley (Locality Youth Facilitator) and Andrew Jack (Community Engagement Manager) MADT applied for a Community Youth Fund grant which was successful.
The money allowed them to equip the St John’s club and also to upgrade the MADT mini roadshow equipment so it could support more hands-on workshops in and around the Marlborough community area.
The St John’s club has been up and running every Friday lunchtime since last September, and MADT are also half way through a series of workshops with the local Explorer Scouts.
The Raspberry Jam in the Town Hall on March 4 from 10am to 4pm - to coincide with the international weekend marking Raspberry Pi's sixth birthday - is a much more ambitious and public event.