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20 Easy Raspberry Pi Projects: Toys, Tools, Gadgets, and More! Review by Holly Johnson

Rui Santos & Sara Santos
No Starch Press
245 8th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

With teen and pre-teen sons in the house, electronics and programming have become a primary interest lately.  When given the opportunity to check out No Starch Press’s “20 Easy Raspberry Pi Projects,” by Rui & Sara Santos, they were pretty excited to give it a shot!  This is only the book, so your family will need to purchase the Raspberry Pi components, specifically the Raspberry Pi -3 board ad required electronics components.  Each project lists the specific components needed for it, as well as an estimated cost, so that you can choose projects utilizing what you have on-hand.  There is also a complete ‘Project Component List’ that lists everything utilized throughout the book, if you’re more the type to purchase everything in advance.  Some of the components required are access to a server, LCD screens, cameras, and sensors.  The book itself is $24.95.

The projects are appropriate for a beginner, and would be useful in a classroom setting, for a parent working with children, or someone who is just interested in tinkering around and getting the hang of the Raspberry Pi-3 board.  The book is very visually-appealing, with full color photographs, circuit diagrams, and highlighted code to make it easier to follow.  The authors use very basic step-by-step instructions and explain everything fully.  The boys did not get lost or confused while working through it.  Some of the projects included are a blinking rainbow light, temperature / humidity data logger (like a weather station), smoke alarm, wifi-controlled robot, and intruder alarm for the home.

The book is intended for any age, though I’d estimate from about age ten and up.  If you have a child younger than ten who has a propensity for computer programming, it could be appropriate.  The photographs make it very easy to follow along and complete the steps in the correct order, and since each project can be completed in a fairly short amount of time, there is automatic feedback on whether it was completed correctly or not. 

This is not a homeschool-specific book, but rather something fun for a beginner or hobbyist.  Our boys used it as an elective and worked through it during their fun time.  This would be a great elective book for families who unschool, use unit studies, or have child-directed learning.  As an elective, it’s a bit easier to incorporate into the homeschool day.  It can be used for ten minutes or three hours, depending on the child’s interest.

While we didn’t expect to spend quite as much on components as we did (but our family also did not have the base Raspberry Pi-3 board), the boys have been very happy tinkering around with the components at the book’s instruction.  As their teacher, I feel like they’ve learned a lot of base information on electronics and could begin to go deeper with this knowledge.  To say that they know considerably more than I do after reading this book would be an understatement!  This truly is a good book for beginners.

-Product review by Holly Johnson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2018