I am in discussions with a local school about the best way to stretch their budget for buying controllers for robotics and coding projects.
Previous D&T teachers there have invested in "Crumbles"... which seem very poor value and limited in their tools, functionality and IO pins compared to Arduinos or Pi Zeros.
At the moment I am exploring the possibility of using cheap Arduino nano boards, and mounting them on a simple pcb that will improve their robustness, and break out their IO into bigger more accessible terminals, as my D&T teaching contact is happy to make such boards himself using the resources from a different bucket of money, thus minimising the cost of ruggedising the Arduinos on his new equipment budget.
I have also barely started to find out if S4A - Scratch for Arduino - can run on nanos, as a low-level entry way of programming them - but as far as I know S4A is designed for the Arduino Uno, so that might force my hand in that direction). If Arduinos are used, then there are free programming tools out there, allowing different levels of ability to access them for projects. Are there other examples of Scratch for Arduino that might work on a nano? Would someone like to collaborate to make one? The great thing about Arduinos is the huge range of very affordable shields out there, as well as the big community of users.
Pi zeros are another possibility, as they give several levels of complexity possible - from Raspberry Assembler, to Scratch, to GPIO Zero, to Python ... each with their pros and cons - but of course the Pi zero offers the chance to do other stuff far more sophisticated than a "mere" 8-bit microcontroller such as the Arduino. And of course there are a growing number of Pi Hats to interface with the real world.
As always, my time is limited to look into these things, particularly if I am to get something useful out there quickly for them.
So I would be really interested in hearing from anyone who has already been through this loop, who can throw ideas or experiences into the pot, or even collaborate or share what they have already done for their local school. Something far better could be produced as a collaboration, of course. And it would be a shame to duplicate effort, instead of putting more time into an existing project to hopefully expand and improve it.
STEM Ambassador in HANTS since 2012 (working individually, not as a corporate STEM Ambassador)