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Raspberry Pi in the Classroom

Posted 11 years ago

I'm trying to wrap my head around ways to incorporate Raspberry Pi in the classroom.  I teach math at the community college level and, at my campus, there is no place for a dedicated math computer lab.  Due to the low price of the RPi, I was considering having students get one.  I was also thinking of making worksheets for my students as a notebook for them to 1) learn how to code and 2) learn mathematics via Mathematica.  

However, I haven't figured out the logistics yet.  To my understanding, if a student wanted to use it in the classroom, they'd each need a monitor to hook it up to, correct?  

I also read that Wolfram and Intel teamed up and will release a SD card that will have Mathematica on it. (  Does anyone have any idea how this would work?  I'm imagining you could plug it into your computer and run Mathematica off of it.  If so, then that would be a more practical way of getting Matthematica into the classroom at my college.

Any thoughts or experiences with RPi or ideas of Intel's Edison card are greatly appreciated.  

POSTED BY: Mike McCraith
9 Replies
Posted 11 years ago
In another post, "How to Start Mathematica using VNC", I had a problem caused by a misprint in an autostart file.  I have edited that post.

I found how to install VNC on the Pi here:
I bought VNC Viewer for iPad and got (free) VNC Viewer for Mac.  Advantage is MMA licence is not needed.
POSTED BY: Roger Kirchner
Posted 11 years ago
One thing to keep in mind is that the FrontEnd performance on even the latest version RPi is not going to be very snappy compared to running on a desktop PC. That could be a factor in a classroom setting where time may be limited. However, running only the MathKernel in a terminal is fairly responsive. If you don't have a RPi, you should get one to try it out first.
Posted 11 years ago
Hello again Mike,

Not exactly. But the remote notebook execution requires a notebook version of mathematica installed on your computer. Anyway, this method does not use VNC. I believe it uses SSH, and by letting Mathematica know the IP address, username and password to the RPi, one can remotely execute mathematica code on the RPi through SSH. Mathematica presents the login procedure with a graphical user interface, so it is quite straight forward.

Hope it helps :-)
Posted 11 years ago
I think I'd lead more towards using the RPi over the semester/annual edition due to both cost effectiveness and the RPi being able to commute and not have a time limit.  But, I do appreciate the suggestion!  We did get a grant to get 30 liscenses for the college; however, we are a 4-campus college with many students.  So if two classes want to use the software at the same time, we'd be out of luck.  

Simon, when you were discussing executing code via the notebook, were you referring to the VPN access that Simon posted earlier?  Again, this is very new to me, but I am excited at where it can head.

Norma:  I'll check my email! Thanks!! emoticon
POSTED BY: Mike McCraith
Posted 11 years ago
Hi Mike,

I tutor at the same college as you.  I do not have any experience with RPi, but have a bit with Arduino -- I don't know if any of that would be helpful.  

I'd love to see if I can be helpful to you in investigating how to teach with Mathematica & RPi.  I'll email your college address with my contact info.

Thanks, Norma
Posted 11 years ago
Diego is right both in terms of price and capabilities. I use Mathematica version for notebooks to solve demading engineering related mathematics, and the RPi for solving simpler mathematics related to programming the Pi (if you know what I mean). However, if I were the student, I would pay more attention if I got to play around with an RPi also. Perhaps interactive demonstrations from the Wolfram Demonstrations Project could also be used to spice things up a little, as an alternative to playing around with the RPi.

I would however encourage using the RPi as a teaching tool, just as much as standard Mathematica. If you run Mathematica on a notebook, you can also execute mathematica code remotely through the computer, then you don't need the monitor.
Posted 11 years ago
What about the student version of mathematica? Got an semester license, annual and Standard. A semester license is 44.95, not to far off from the Raspi price.

Thus it can be used directly on their notebooks.
POSTED BY: Diego Zviovich
Posted 11 years ago
Thanks much for the help and support! 

I'm new to all of this, so I read a little on how to connect via VNC.  From some quick searches, there appears to be plenty of guides out there.  I guess the next step is getting a RPi to "play" with.  emoticon
POSTED BY: Mike McCraith
Posted 11 years ago
Hello Mike,

Some years ago I was taught to solve mathematical problems (related to chemical engineering) through Mathematica, and today I am so greatful for that. At first I didn't appreciate the mix of technology and mathematics, but I have become a supporter of it. Now I use Mathematica for pretty much everything I do. So I can only support your initiative.

Yes, they would need a monitor to attach to the RPi. But if they have laptop computers with them (or if you have a computer room available), you can connect to RPi through VNC. I do that at the moment, which means I can use the monitor and keyboard of my laptop, to control the raspberry pi, as long as it is connected to my wireless network. Mathematica is now included in distributions of Raspbian Wheezy and NOOBS (as far as I am aware), so if you can get that up and running, you should be good to go :-)
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