Raspberry Pi Project Ideas

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Raspberry Pi is a simple, but effective, single-board computer. These project ideas will let your students experiment with the possibilities of programming and design.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi products are tiny single-board computers, designed to help teach students about programming (Python), coding, and how computers work. For students entering into modern markets, the ability to not only comprehend programming but to be innovative and creative will be very important. The following project ideas will let students build computer-powered designs using Raspberry Pi. These project ideas can work with most Raspberry Pi products, so you'll have to decide which is best for your students (and your available resources).

Raspberry Pi Project Ideas

Electric Skateboard or Scooter

Students will mount a small motor onto a skateboard or scooter, then use Raspberry Pi to program the vehicle to respond via Bluetooth to a remote. Any video game joystick will work as the remote, but Wii remotes are particularly popular. This remote will control the speed of the vehicle.

  • Materials: Skateboard/longboard or scooter, motor, Raspberry Pi, wires, remote (with Bluetooth), wires, other custom trucks/wheel components as desired, tools as needed

Pet Camera

Using the Raspberry Pi, students will program a simple video camera and set up a livestream that can be used to monitor pets while away. Raspberry Pi does offer a camera module that is perfect for this kind of project and is easy to program. Students program the camera and livestream and create a housing unit for it (you can ask them to design the entire enclosure for their pet if it's something small like a rodent.

As a simple alternative to this, ask students to build a bird or bat house, and use the infrared camera module to set up a livestream that lets students study the natural behaviors of these animals.

  • Materials: Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi infrared camera module (or another simple video camera), tools and materials for animal enclosures as desired

Automated Model Railroad

Model railroads may not be as popular as they once were, but with Raspberry Pi, your students can make a fully automated model consisting of multiple tracks running at once. Students will program the model so that trains alternate routes, the tracks switch, and everything is constantly running (without collisions). This can be used to create historical models, holiday decorations, or just very high-efficiency model railroads for display.

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