Using an iPad to control the small Raspberry Pi is easier than you think

[Ed. note: Mike Amante will deliver a related session on iPads and the Raspberry Pi at this year’s ISTE conference on Tues. June 30.]

pi-ipadPart of the magic of the magic of iPads are all the great apps that can turn them into so much more than a tablet. With the maker movement in schools in full force across the country, it seems like students everywhere are excited and interested in learning about programming, electronics, robotics, and more. When apps can help them make and learn, all the better.

How can these two ideas be melded together to create a stellar learning experience? This is where the Raspberry Pi, a small credit card-sized computer that was created in England just a few years ago, comes in. The Raspberry Pi, which runs an open source Linux operating system, was created with the intention of teaching programming and computer science concepts to students. The beauty of the Pi is that you can plug it into a TV or monitor, add a keyboard, and you have a fully functional computer for under $40. In addition, the GPIO pins on the unit allow students to connect sensors, motors, LEDs, and other electronics and then write and execute code to interact with the physical world.

Using the Raspberry Pi in tandem with the iPad as the means for viewing, controlling, and programming offers many advantages over traditional microcontroller setups. Most other microcontrollers require the computing power of a full-fledged laptop or desktop machine, which limits the mobility of what can be done. With the simple yet feature-rich apps on the iPad, as well as the small, powerful footprint of the Raspberry Pi, which features its own ARM-based microprocessor, the duo can offer a wide variety of opportunities for fun and exciting computing projects in any classroom.

Next page: Apps and projects to try