Here’s a back-to-school idea: have your students build their own computers to use in class!
I got the original idea from the Raspberry Pi post on Makezine last year, in which they describe a prototype $25 stick PC running a thinned-down Linux distribution. You can see the original post here:
They are now selling the Raspberry Pi for $35 (inflation? Nah, markup) from Allied Electronics in the US:
and you can learn about the whole project here:
But, isn’t part of the magic here to have the students see how the computer is built and how it works? So, as a service to the community, let me put the following initial parts out there in the hopes that someone else (or possibly I) will design something the students can solder together. It would need to have as many DIP-pin components as possible, not surface mount, because soldering surface mount by hand is difficult for inexperienced electronics types. But it would need to actually work as well. Here are some initial specs:
ARM11 microprocessor (perhaps the Telechips TTC8902?)
USB 2.0 port
These specs basically match the Raspberry Pi (at least the version I’ve seen). The trouble is going to be finding some of these parts in DIP packages. One could mount the components into adapters and solder the adapters to a board.
At any rate, it’s a thought. Get those kinesthetic and visual learners engaged in programming and robotics by having them build their own computers!