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My son has an enjoys playing with his arduino. He's interested in getting a Raspberry Pi. Other than the fact that it exists, I don't know much about it. What does it do? What does he need to get started with it? Anything you want to share or resources you can point me to?

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It's a tiny computer. That's really it. You can use it to run things that are more complex than the Arduino stuff.

I'm not sure what the best kit is anymore - my kid's interest was a couple of years ago and these things change fast. But get a kit with projects and let him play. Or get one of the robotics kits that uses the RPi as the base and let him learn that way.

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So what would be different about this compared to just programming python on a normal computer?

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What's neat about a raspberry pi is that it also has input and output interfaces, so you can wire it to things in real life.  So you can use information say from the internet to direct things in the real world.  This is commonly known as Internet of Things or IoT.  

For example, we completed a project where we used an API to access rain forecasts from Weather Underground.  We wrote a python program that collected the probability of precipitation, and tested to see if it was above some level that we set, and then send current to an LED, warning us of such a dire situation.  (It was called an umbrella indicator.)  You can also wire it to a relay that will turn on a real device like a table lamp.  We used it as a web server and created a website where if you click on a link, the light would toggle on and off.  

Like the Arduino, it is small and cheap enough that you can program it for a single purpose, package it up and then buy another one for some other use.  

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There are so many Raspberry Pi kits out there now. When we got ours, we got a Canakit one. Usually the reviews of each type of kit on Amazon are fairly detailed. I got the Canakit because it was rated pretty high at the time. Still is according to this:

https://makeradvisor.com/best-raspberry-pi-3-starter-kits/

I didn't get something with projects because I just got books about raspberry pi 3 (be sure that is what you are looking at because the other stuff for earlier versions will not be compatible). There are also resources online like this:

https://projects.raspberrypi.org/en/

If you are looking for something with projects/curriculum built around Raspberry Pi, this looked pretty good from Ready Set STEM, but I have no idea when they will be in stock again.

http://www.readysetstem.com/product/ready-set-stem-creator-kit/

 

Edited by calbear
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Just adding to what daijobu said... Yes, it's blending the programming piece with the physical hardware part. One of the things ds did with one of his was to build a case for it by laser cutting some wood, wire up a bunch of buttons and joysticks, and set it up to play old fashioned games. It was his own project - he came up with the design for the box, figured out how to make a little menu for it, bought a box of buttons and so forth to wire up. You couldn't do that with a regular computer, not quite like that.

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