Eighth-graders in the Odyssey program at Riverbend School in the Meramec Valley R-III district are taking a technological journey.

The gifted student program will begin experimenting with Raspberry Pi computing boards — small computers that are able to interface with video, audio, USB and network connectors — are fully programmable.

Riverbend will join one of the few, but growing number of middle schools around the world that are learning about technology with Raspberry Pi.

Students are excited about the opportunity, officials said. Even though learning to program the computer boards will have a steep learning curve, the possibilities provide the motivation to overcome that hurdle.

According to one student, “the boards are low cost and there are many ‘hacks’ to make them do almost anything you want.”

Students are in the process of researching projects that can be completed before the school year ends,” the student said. “Some ideas students are considering are Wi-Fi hotspots, mini-web servers, remote control toy automation and jukebox music players.”

According to the website raspberrypi.org, The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard.

It’s a capable little PC, which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word processing and games.

“We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.”

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is based in the United Kingdom.

Kyle Walz, teacher and former Odyssey student, is excited by having the technology.

“The discipline of engineering is a helpful skill set that can benefit students in many areas of study,” Walz said.

“Students will be learning how to work with hardware and write, customize, and/or configure software to make the devices work as intended,” he said. “Since the devices are programmable, the boards can be reused on different projects from school year to school year.

“The experience of using the technology focuses on teamwork and problem solving,” Walz said “This technological journey can take this group of students and school to a place where they stand out among peers.”