Free loan boxes for schools

We provide free loan boxes to schools who are interested in teaching and learning bioinformatics. Each loan box consists of 10 Raspberry Pi computers and all necessary peripherals, apart from monitors. The loan boxes come installed with the latest version of our 4273π materials, suitable for sixth-form level and with links to the Scottish Higher curriculum in Biology and Human Biology.

Raspberry Pi computer. Images © Heleen Plaisier.

The loan boxes were made possible thanks to funding from Teachers Together and Access for Rural Communities projects at the University of St Andrews. This allowed us to buy lots of Raspberry Pi Model 2 computers, Rii keyboards, USB power adaptors, powered USB hubs, VGA to HDMI adaptors, extension cords and micro sd cards.

Unpacking lots of Pi computers and paraphernalia. Images © Heleen Plaisier.

The loan boxes were first used during the Teachers Together Conference in 2015 at the University of St Andrews. Teachers Together is a partnership that encourages links between Higher Education and schools. Around 50 teachers from Scottish State Schools attended the conference, and they were given the opportunity to learn more about selected disciplines within the University.

Teachers Together 2015. Images © Fraser Cameron.

A group of around 20 teachers chose to be introducted to the School of Biology at the University of St Andrews. The group first attended an introductory talk by Dr Jacqueline Nairn, and afterwards learnt about PCR techniques and bioinformatics. The 4273π team gave a hands-on demonstration of the Raspberry Pi and some of the 4273π materials for learning and teaching bioinformatics.

As you can see on Fraser Cameron’s photos below, the teachers “really enjoyed learning something new”. They said the best part of the worshop was the “introduction to Raspberry Pi”, and “getting to experiment on the computers, something I don’t get the chance to do much”, and that they were “previously unaware of the technology”. They appreciated the “practical help and explanations”, and thanked the team “for helping me and explaining without making me feel clueless”.

Teachers Together 2015. Images © Fraser Cameron.

Our loan boxes are provided free of charge and are intended for short- or medium-term use. Loan boxes are available to any state school in Scotland. Schools participating in Access for Rural Communities or Teachers Together will receive priority. Currently, 4273π loan boxes are not available for independent schools or schools outside Scotland.

When we deliver the loan box, we would like to demonstrate its use to teachers and/or pupils. We are happy to co-lead activities with the loan box, either to whole classes or voluntary groups of pupils at your school. To register your interest in borrowing a loan box, please email with “LoanBox” as the subject. In your email please include:

  • Your name and daytime telephone number
  • School name and local authority (must be in Scotland)
  • Ideal date and duration of loan
  • Alternative dates/durations
  • Whether you require 4273π project members to co-lead an activity for pupils

Due to high demand, we may not be able to match your request precisely. Please indicate as much flexibility as possible.

Loan boxes, assistance, demonstrations and activities are provided free of charge. For funding 4273π loan boxes, we are grateful to the Access for Rural Communities project and the Admissions Department at the University of St Andrews. Loan box delivery, demonstration and activities are also supported by the University of Edinburgh.