/>
X

Robots meet Raspberry Pi: How kids are using their brains

A troop of scouts has married the Raspberry Pi with a mind-controlled Lego robot and launched it into competition – a sign that the mini PC is already proving its worth in getting kids enthusiastic about computing
scouts-raspberry-pi-alan-herbert-6.jpg
1 of 6 Alan Herbert; photos used with permission

Boreatton scouts at Lego contest

Although it gets plenty of grown-ups excited too, the Raspberry Pi computer is, after all, intended for schoolchildren.

The tiny, super-cheap PC is largely aimed at teaching kids how computers work and hopefully getting them interested in programming. It makes sense, then, that one of the first of the sought-after units went to the Boreatton Scout Troop, 10 members of which are in a robotics team that competes with similar groups internationally.

Last week the Scouts were in Mannheim, Germany, taking part in the First Lego League robotics competition. The Boreatton troop got there by winning a regional competition at the University of Manchester, then going on to take the UK's National Robot Design prize.


Read more about Raspberry Pi on ZDNet UK.


scouts-raspberry-pi-alan-herbert-8.jpg
2 of 6 Alan Herbert; photos used with permission

Boreatton Scouts' Raspberry Pi robot

The team is currently working on integrating the Raspberry Pi with its existing Lego robots and the Puzzlebox Brainstorms brainwave-reading headset.

Pictured above is the team's Boreatton Experimental Robot Type 1e (B.E.R.T.1e).


Read more about Raspberry Pi on ZDNet UK.


scouts-raspberry-pi-alan-herbert-9.jpg
3 of 6 Alan Herbert; photos used with permission

Boreatton scouts' Raspberry Pi robot controller

Twelve-year-old Claire Revans (left) is one of the core members of the Boreatton Scout Troop's robotics team, seen here showing off Scratch-based games running on their Raspberry Pi with a pico projector screen.

She explained to ZDNet UK how the team had decided to work with the Raspberry Pi as its research theme was, coincidentally, about raspberry preservation.

"It's hard to use at first because you don't know what to do, but, once you get the hang of it, it's fun," Claire said on Thursday. "We've been making games on Scratch and we've been linking our mind-control robot to it — it's very portable."

Alan Herbert, who helps run the troop, explained that the EEG headsets are linked to the Lego robots using Python. That will be the main programming environment shipped with the educational release of the RaspBerry Pi, when it comes out.

The Puzzlebox Brainstorms developers in the US are adapting their headset control software to the Raspberry Pi, Herbert added. The aim is to give people the ability to drive the robots by "thinking at them".

"You have a headset on your head, and it reads your brainwaves into the computer. We link the computer to the robot, and when you think a certain thought, we can train our brains to move the robots," Claire said.


Read more about Raspberry Pi on ZDNet UK.


scouts-raspberry-pi-alan-herbert-7.jpg
4 of 6 Alan Herbert; photos used with permission

Boreatton scouts' Raspberry Pi robot and headset

Ben Thomas, also 12, is another member of the robotics team. Here he is pictured wearing the brainwave-reading headset.

Ben, a keen gamer, seemed most excited by the team's work on creating games using the Scratch GUI programming environment. "It's good — when you're playing on it you're kind of, 'This is cool'," he said.

Herbert noted that the kids would be much less enthusiastic if they bought such a basic game, but that the reaction is different when they are involved. "Because they've written them themselves they play for hours, finding where it goes wrong and what they need to do to make it work better," Herbert said.

According to Ben, the Raspberry Pi "gives you an idea of what's in a computer and how amazing they are, how they can make a computer this small".

Claire, too, said she has learned a lot from playing with the device.

"When you work with computers at school, you don't really learn much about what's inside. With the Raspberry Pi you can see what's going on and you've got a lot more to learn," she said. "It's probably more fun than working with normal computers. It made me respect people who work with computers."


Read more about Raspberry Pi on ZDNet UK.


lego-raspberry-pi-isabelle-herbert.jpg
5 of 6 Isabelle Herbert; photos used with permission

Boreatton scouts' Raspberry Pi Lego case

The Raspberry Pi, which is all about what's inside a computer, doesn't come with a case.

Alan Herbert's daughter Isabelle, who is also part of the team, decided to fix that. She designed an enclosure for the tiny PC using Lego. The picture above shows the Raspberry Pi loaded into the box as it's being built.


Read more about Raspberry Pi on ZDNet UK.


scouts-raspberry-pi-isabelle-herbert-4.jpg
6 of 6 Isabelle Herbert; photos used with permission

Boreatton scouts' Raspberry Pi Lego case finished

The Lego case she designed for the tiny PC, complete with lid and Raspberry Pi logo, is pictured above, and full instructions can be found at the Raspberry Pi Foundation blog.


Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.


Related Galleries

Holiday Zoom backgrounds: Christmas cheer, New Year's Eve, and winter scenes
3D Rendering Christmas interior

Related Galleries

Holiday Zoom backgrounds: Christmas cheer, New Year's Eve, and winter scenes

34 Photos
No PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X? These game consoles take you back to the future
analogue.jpg

Related Galleries

No PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X? These game consoles take you back to the future

10 Photos
Winter Zoom backgrounds: New year, new virtual meeting decor
Wooden lodge in pine forest with heavy snow reflection on Lake O'hara at Yoho national park

Related Galleries

Winter Zoom backgrounds: New year, new virtual meeting decor

21 Photos
Bond, James Bond: The Tech of Sean Connery's 007
b218e870-fe8d-4476-9e05-2e2498b33511.jpg

Related Galleries

Bond, James Bond: The Tech of Sean Connery's 007

21 Photos
Miss baseball? Zoom with a virtual background of your favorite team's stadium
01-angels-stadium.png

Related Galleries

Miss baseball? Zoom with a virtual background of your favorite team's stadium

31 Photos
Best apps for life under lockdown
1-supercook-eileen-brown-zdnet.png

Related Galleries

Best apps for life under lockdown

24 Photos
Obsolete tech: Gone but not forgotten
obsolete tech gone but not forgotten zdnet

Related Galleries

Obsolete tech: Gone but not forgotten

19 Photos