For the princely sum of £20 you can now attach a camera to your Raspberry Pi unit, to fiddle about with and figure out how to take a photo with bare-bones code. This is very much more about learning to code than learning about photography, but it's about learning: I'm enamoured.
The camera unit comprises a five megapixel sensor and lens on a board measuring 25mm x 20mm x 9mm, that's capable of recording 1080p video.
Given it attaches to the Raspberry Pi via a socket and is little more than bare lens, chip, and board, and in order to release the shutter you need to enter a line of code, you might need a bit of ingenuity or teamwork to take a picture. And don't forget that once the camera's plugged in, it's up to you to figure out the code needed to operate it and locate the images that it captures. (Although the Raspberry Pi community is very good at lending a helping hand.)
But isn't that the point? Raspberry Pi is meant to spark children's enthusiasm and curiosity for programming. You plug it in and through a process of trial, error, and discovery, you get to where you want to go. (Or maybe nowhere near it, but it was fun all the same.) In particular with a camera, it gives children something that's both familar and tangible to latch on to whilst they're in the process of learning. Learning, after all, is supposed to be fun.
Once you've figured out how to take a picture, where it's kept, and what to do with it next, there's a Raspberry Pi photograph competition running until 14 June 2013. Pictures need to be taken with a Raspberry Pi (d'uh) and fall into one of four categories: Your Workshop/Den; Your Pi Project; People and Pets; Outdoors.
I think I'm buying one for my niece. (And naturally, by that I mean that I'm buying one for Eva so that I can play with it.)
Raspberry Pis can be purchased on the Farnell element14 Raspberry Pi website for just over £28. The camera unit is just under £20.