It’s a tiny computer with a sweet and catchy name — the Raspberry Pi.
Developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the single-board computers have taken off in popularity since being introduced in 2012.
They can be used to learn computer programming and can form the heart of many fun, educational projects, including robotics.
West Virginia State University’s Computer Science, Mathematics and Robotics Club is sponsoring an event called Raspberry Jam from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, in room 135 of the James C. Wilson Student Union. It will coincide with the international Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend.
Visitors can learn all about Raspberry Pi computers and their many applications. They are encouraged to register and get free Raspberry Jam tickets by going to www.bit.ly/wvsu-jam
Club member and WVSU senior Brett White, a Hurricane resident, is spearheading the event. White is majoring in computer science.
“There will be 87 different Raspberry Pi events going on around the world,” White said. “This will be the first Raspberry Jam in the state of West Virginia.”
White said Raspberry Jam will be an educational and informative event for all ages.
“It’s based around the Raspberry Pi — a $35 computer the size of a credit card,” White said.
Visitors can listen to various speakers who will talk about how they’ve used Raspberry Pi in their projects. There will be exhibits and free, Raspberry Pi workshops throughout the day.
“You can learn simple projects that you can do with these computers,” he said.
Raspberry Pi enthusiasts are also invited to bring in their projects to exhibit.
White said the Raspberry Pi was developed originally as a way to teach science, technology, math and science in elementary and middle schools.
“They’re low cost enough to get a class a set of them, and they’re easy to use.”
Information on how to use a Raspberry Pi is available on the foundation’s website, raspberrypi.org.
“It’s a completely open source — you’ll be able to program it and do whatever you can think of with it,” he said. “There are a boat load of projects that you can find online.”
For example, using a Raspberry Pi, White created “home automation software that controls my whole house,” he said.
Using a smaller, $10 version of the Raspberry Pi, enthusiasts have made “little Gameboys.”
Depending on the model, you can add touch screens, cameras, keyboards and mice to a Raspberry Pi computer.
“Some have integrated Bluetooth and wifi, making it useful for wireless applications.”
There are versions of the popular computer game “Minecraft” available on the Raspberry Pi.
“The developers of Minecraft built a special version for the Raspberry Pi so that you can learn the programming language Python, which is what Minecraft is based off of,” White said.
Raspberry Pi computers are also helpful in learning “Scratch” programming, White said.
“Scratch programming is easy for young and old. It’s really easy to learn; it uses pictures to teach them how to program.”
White has spoken at Raspberry Jam events in Roanoke, Virginia, and in Rockville, Maryland. He specializes in Internet of Things and Smart Home programming.
According to its website (www.raspberrypi.org), the Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based charity that works to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world.
The foundation provides low-cost, high-performance computers that people use to learn, solve problems and have fun. It provides outreach and education to help more people access computing and digital making.
The foundation also develops free resources to help people learn about computing and how to make things with computers, and train educators who can guide other people to learn.
White is available to speak about the many uses of Raspberry Pi computers. He can be reached at 304-881-4658 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the Raspberry Jam event, or to register, visit www.bit.ly/wvsu-jam.