Learn Python with a Raspberry Pi

By Russell Barnes. Posted

Discover the joy and art of computer programming with your Raspberry Pi

Learning to code with a Raspberry Pi is one of the most profoundly life-changing things you can do. This has always been true, but learning to code is increasingly important in the modern world.

The reason the Raspberry Pi was created was to challenge a drop in computer science applications at Cambridge University. Modern computers, and especially games consoles, were fun and powerful, but not easily programmable.

The maker community fell in love with the Raspberry Pi, thanks to its cheap and hackable nature. Building and tinkering are the primary reasons we love Raspberry Pi. Great projects use a combination of hardware and software together.

So, whether you’re a hacker learning to make better projects, or a would-be coder looking for a better career, we're going to try and help you on your way.

This article is based on Beginner's Guide to Coding in issue 53 of The MagPi. Issue 54 of The MagPi has a companion piece on learning object orientated programming with a Raspberry Pi

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Learning to code with a Raspberry Pi

The good news is that you don’t need to be a genius to know coding, just as you don’t have to be a genius to read and write. It’s actually pretty simple once you learn a few simple concepts like variables, branching, and loops.

Perhaps you’re brand-new to coding. Maybe you did a little BASIC in school, or used old languages like Pascal and Fortran. Or maybe you’re already knee-deep in projects and just want to learn the language that controls them.

Wherever you’re coming from, our programming guides will walk you through the basic concepts of computer programming. We’ll demystify the whole process of code, so you can get a better understanding of what’s going on inside your Raspberry Pi.

Why it is important to learn coding

“I think everybody in this country should learn to program a computer,” said Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs, “because it teaches you how to think.”

Code is a critical layer in our lives that sits between us and the increasingly digital world that surrounds us. With just a small amount of understanding how code works, you’ll be able to perform computer tasks faster and get a better understanding of the world around you. Increasingly, humans and machines are working together.

Learning to use code and hardware is incredibly empowering. Computers are really about humanity; it’s about helping people by using technology. Whether it’s the home-made ophthalmoscope saving eyesight in India, or the Computer Aid Connect taking the internet to rural Africa, code on the Raspberry Pi is making a real difference.

Coding also makes you more creative. It enables you to automate a whole bunch of boring and repetitive tasks in your life, freeing you up to concentrate on the fun stuff.

It also teaches you how to solve problems in your life. Learning to how to put things in order, and how to break down a big, seemingly impossible task into several small but achievable tasks is profoundly life-changing.

And if you’re looking for a career boost, there’s plenty of worse things to learn. “Our policy is literally to hire as many engineers as we can find,” says Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. “The whole limit in the system is that there just aren’t enough people who are trained to have these skills today."

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