Raspberry Pi for 13yr old?


Just wondering if this is suitable for a 13yr old? My son has used it before at school, and has used python before also. He is doing an NVQ-type course at school in programming and just wondering if it would be any good to help him with his course? He is part of the accelerated learning group at school so I’m wondering if this is too simple for him, or on the other hand, too difficult with the programming language? Although as I said he has used python before so hopefully it wont be a complete shock to his system.

Any helpful replies greatly appreciated.



The Raspberry Pi is as complicated as you make it really. My initial reaction, harking back to myself as a 13-year-old ( although I had an extremely keen interest in computing and taking things apart, so I was biased even at the time ), would be to say yes, 1000 times yes!

What’s the content of the NVQ course? I suspect there many be many things he learns in it which may be applicable to the Pi.

How does he learn? Will he program for the sake of it, or does there need to be some greater goal in mind? Knowing this is key to knowing how to approach the Pi and what sort of things you should get to go with it. A Pi on its own can certainly promote and foster a learning experience, but its lacking in depth unless you’re very determined to make the most of it.

One of my missions with the code I write and share is to make it as easy to get started as possible, and difficulty then comes from pushing the boundaries of things and coming up with your own creations. When you excuse the phrase “buy into the Pi” you also buy into a community of people like me who are keen to help and share- I’d encourage you to look at nearby Raspberry Jam events for ideas and inspiration, and to meet like-minded parents and children.

Sorry for my hap-hazard response, but I’m on-hand to answer any questions you have! I hope it’s been useful.


Thanks for your reply, it’s been really helpful.

He’s already designed an app that works on android, so I think he’d use it for that mainly. I’m not sure if he would ‘experiment’ with code and just write for the sake of it, I think he’d probably do it with a goal in mind.

He’s of the minecraft generation and I’ve been told by an adult who knows about these things, that he’s very good and very inventive with it.

I’m not sure of the content of the course exactly. I don’t think it is an NVQ, but it’s of that type - NVQ/BTEC etc.

I’m thinking of trying to contact his teacher at school and asking if it would be beneficial to him, but what are the chances of doing it before Xmas?

Also, I was looking at getting the B+ starter kit. Would that be the best place to start?

Thanks again for the reply and info


The B+ is a fantastic place to start. It’s basically everything you need, minus the screen, to get started with programming and tinkering- which is good!

The version of Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi is very, very different from the one you might find on a laptop/desktop or tablet computer. It’s extremely cut down and geared towards helping kids learn how to program for and interact with 3-dimensional space.

People have used this, plus the Python-based programming interface and some out-of-the-box, to create really amazing things. There is, for example, code that will build blocks in Minecraft to match what a camera is seeing- creating a giant 2d photo in the game. And people have created scripts to build houses on the fly.

Designing an App for Android is a good start! You’ve honestly got me at a loss there, since I’ve never designed for the platform and I don’t know if the Pi would lend itself towards doing that. It would be a wholly different experience, but hopefully a rewarding one.

I would like to think the Pi would be beneficial either way, but I think its use would be contingent on him finding something to do with it- that’s the canonical problem with the Pi, people pick it up and don’t find something to do. But the easy retort is; if you don’t pick it up, you’ll never know, right!

A simple anecdote to support this; I picked up a Pi 2 years ago and it changed my whole career. It is what you make of it!

I’d suggest, if he’s got any sort of affinity towards designing or playing games ( other than Minecraft ), that the Pi could be a great way to get into game programming. In Python a lot of the guys I know use something called PyGame and I’ve seen 13-year-olds do amazing things in this… often to my total befuddlement since I’ve not used it much myself!

If, for example, he created something cool, there’s a whole community of people with Raspberry Pi computers that should run what he’s crated- it’s a great environment in which to share.

If the Pi turns out to be a non-starter on the programming front ( it really shouldn’t ) then you can always turn it into a home media player, a games console, a home server, or a variety of other useful purposes. And doing those things alone is educational!

Anyway, hopefully you’re now not so buried in enthusiasm that you can’t see your screen- let us know what you go for, and I’ll surely be around to help with any questions/problems/recommendations from there!


I’d say that if i can get my seven year old daughter interested in doing projects on a Pi, your son will probably love it as well.
Whether it will only be used for school/coding only will be debatable (my daughter has 3 MicroSD’s, each for a different purpose, only one including actual technical things), but the way i see it, anything that gets kids interested in IT, building things, and even science, is a good thing.
And let’s face it, on average we as parents probably buy far worse presents for our kids than Raspberry Pi’s ;-)


I learn basic programing on a TRS-80 64k system at 12, bought a Tandy 1000 ex 80-088 at 13 , put together my first 80-386 sx system at 14 buying each part separate IDE cards, motherboard, case, drives, graphics card, memory etc… by 15 went from MS-Dos to linux, well partitioned the system to boot either choice.
If raspberry pi’s were around back then, oh my gosh, I would’ve been in heaven. BOTH my 5 year old and 7 year old have their own pi zeros, either on a lapdock or tied to any of the numerous monitors and wireless keyboards I own. They love scratch and minecraft, my seven yearold enjoys her scroll pHat and PiGlow, and I am just introducing her to the Sense hat. although she has an andriod tablet, she really enjoys her Pi and I feel gets much more stimulating interaction with it. There is something more rewarding to her interacting with a phat on scratch then another mindless angry birds game on the tablet. It really helps their critical thinking, problem solving and thinking outside the box in tech terms.