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Marlborough schools to get slice of Pi

07 Aug 2013

Computer science students across Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough can now take a bigger slice of Pi with a gift of Raspberry Pi’s from the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT).

The credit card-sized single board computers, developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of stimulating the teaching of basic computer science in schools, will be given to 13 local secondary schools across the region.

Four of the schools – Waimea College, Nelson College, Nelson College for Girls and Garin College – will use the Raspberry Pi’s to take part in the {Codeworx} national secondary schools technology challenge.

Students taking part in the {Codeworx} challenge must use a Raspberry Pi to solve a real world problem, be useful in someone’s life, have a user-friendly design interface and use process-driven computer programming.

Mark Caukill, NMIT senior lecturer, says sponsoring the Raspberry Pi’s was a highly practical way NMIT could support local digital technology teachers and students.

“The Raspberry Pi’s are an inexpensive but powerful programming platform which can be used for many different creative purposes.  We’re living an increasingly technological world and it’s important that schools are teaching logic from an early age – and programming is basically the application of logic and creativity using a specific syntax. And these tiny computers will also help the teachers with the new digital curriculum.”

In addition to supplying the Raspberry Pi kits, NMIT is supporting schools involved in the {Codeworx} Challenge by providing workshops, school and campus visits and hosting an online forum with resources and troubleshooting tips.

Diana Beeby, Waimea College digital technology studies teacher, says the school had 41 students entered into the {Codeworx} Challenge.  While many students had purchased their own Raspberry Pi’s, the support being provided by NMIT was invaluable.

“I really appreciate NMIT getting us going on the {Codeworx} Challenge.  We were nervous but excited about entering, but having that support from NMIT has given us the confidence to make a start.  This year will be a bit of a learning curve, but the Raspberry Pi’s are a great teaching tool and the students love them,” she says.

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