Raspberry Pi Inspires Young Engineers

Greg Tucker, after retiring twice from engineering, became a teacher at Charlotte Catholic High School and introduced the school to an impressive engineering curriculum in 2012. He offered three engineering classes for seniors that became so popular, he expanded his curriculum to include five more classes to include two honors senior classes, one regular senior class, and two honors junior classes.

Now, two years later, engineering is still as hands-on for Tucker as it was when he first introduced the program.

raspberry pi

“I wanted a free-form class using new technology”Greg Tucker, teacher at Charlotte Catholic High School

He got it. Thanks to the MACS Education Foundation, Tucker was the recipient of a $2,500 Grant for Educational Excellence that allowed him to introduce his students and the school to the Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi is a programmable, single-board computer that fits in the palm of the user’s hand. Despite its size, it doesn’t lack power, providing the user with a Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip that has a 700 MHz processor and a VideoCore IV GPU. Unlike a computer, however, it uses an SD card the way a camera uses a memory card for data storage instead of a built-in hard disk that a common computer uses. At just $35 per unit, it’s not only an effective way of teaching students, it’s an affordable one that has been brought to Tucker’s classroom because of donations to the MACS Education Foundation.

His students have created everything from baby monitors to remote-controlled cars, and their inventions and ideas just keep getting better.
Tucker realizes this and pushes them to go above and beyond expectations. While he does do “everything in class [in order to] help them if they get stuck,” he says that he has a discipline to “make sure I don’t do any of their projects. They do them and I help them find things, but they are own their own.”

Thanks to the grant, incredible things are happening in Tucker’s classroom, including a group of students creating educational videos for children in underprivileged countries and others deciding that engineering is exactly what they want to do with the rest of their life.

“My purpose is to inspire them to be engineers,” Tucker says. Before receiving the grant, he couldn’t do this easily, as he only had access to online simulations. With the grant money, he was able to create a hands-on lab in which to teach his passion.

“The funding from the MACS Education Foundation has directly impacted the engineering class by allowing us to challenge our students’ creativity.”Greg Tucker

Before your donations, the engineering curriculum was more of a dream than anything else. Through the MACS Education Foundation, however, the program has grown to be something larger and far more inspiring than Tucker could have ever imagined it to be.