Raspberry Pi in Education Newsletter - Issue 10 - September 2015
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Raspberry Pi in Education


Latest news from the Raspberry Pi Foundation Education Team

After a well deserved break it's back to school for children, teachers and the Raspberry Pi Education Team in the northern hemisphere this month! We've launched two new exciting products to bring low cost digital making to the masses: a touchscreen and the Sense HAT. James Robinson has been sending Raspberry Pis into space as part of our high altitude ballooning course called Skycademy. We've welcomed a new member of staff to the education team in the form of teacher-cum-hacker Marc Scott. Ben Nuttall has launched the 'Raspberry Pi in Estonia' project. Meanwhile the rest of the team are getting ready to send Raspberry Pi to the International Space Station as part of the Astro Pi project. 

New Products

The eagerly awaited official Raspberry Pi 7" touchscreen monitor was launched this week. The 800 x 480 display only requires two connections to the Pi: power from the Pi’s GPIO pins port and a ribbon cable that connects to the DSI port present on all Raspberry Pis. Touchscreen drivers with support for 10-finger touch are now available in Raspbian. 

The Sense HAT is an add-on board for Raspberry Pi, made especially for the Astro Pi mission – it’s going to the International Space Station in December 2015 – and is now available to buy. The Sense HAT has an 8×8 RGB LED matrix, a five-button joystick and five different built-in sensors. 


Astro Pi Competition Winners

When Tim Peake flies to the ISS in December he will have the two Astro Pis in his personal cargo allowance. He’ll also have ten specially prepared SD cards which will contain the winning applications. Time is booked into his operations schedule to deploy the Astro Pis and set the code running, and afterwards he will recover any output files created. These will then be returned to their respective owners and made available online for everyone to see.

Entries were judged in two phases. The first phase asked participants of primary age (under 11 years old) to think of ideas for computer programs that could be run in space. Tim Peake announced the primary school winners in a video message from Star City, where he was training back in May. The second phase asked participants to think of an idea and to code it, targeting older children at secondary level. The winning projects were announced on The Raspberry Pi blog by the Foundation team's Dave Honess. Each of them has been given a operational code name that will be used when talking about them over the space-to-ground radio. I look forward to hearing Tim Peake refer to "Sweaty Astronaut" and "Radiation" as part of his mission.  

New Resources

We are writing lots of Sense HAT and Astro Pi resources to teach computer science and other core science subjects like physics. To do this we've been throwing Raspberry Pis and Sense HATs out of windows, all in the name of science! Just got a Sense HAT? Then check out the getting started guide or this brand new resource to create a Mystical Magic 8 Ball

Code Club have launched their new and improved project website, where you'll find all of their awesome resources for use in your Code Club. If you just want to try out some of their materials, you can access two sample projects from each course without logging in. If you want full access to all the projects then you'll need to be part of a registered Code Club.

Free Teacher Training through Picademy@Google

We continue to run free computing training in Leeds and Birmingham thanks to a little help from our friends at who have opened Digital Garages in these locations. You can sign up for Picademy@Google events by completing the application forms. We will be in touch to offer you a place as soon as we can. 


Earlier this summer we hosted our first event focused on High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) with Raspberry Pi, we teaming up with Dave Akerman (one of the pioneers of this activity) to deliver some out-of-this-world CPD! Here is Skycademy course leader James Robinson giving his account of the three-day event:

Since running my own HAB launch in school as part of an activity day I’ve been itching to explore the educational opportunities that this activity provides. One of the biggest draws is that it shows students that the discrete subjects they study are not only interconnected, but together enable us to do amazing things. Like capture images from more than 30km up…

We really wanted to share this experience with other educators from around the UK, and together inspire as many kids as possible. We spent day 1 learning about the different disciplines that go into launching (and recovering) a successful HAB mission. The four teams designed, tested and prepared their own payloads for launch. Day 2 was our day to launch, track and recover and despite some previously dire weather predictions we were able to find a narrow window in which to launch. We demonstrated a launch and then in very rapid succession the teams launched their own payloads. We were absolutely blown away by how confidently the teams worked and were chasing their balloons in no time! Of the 5 payloads launched 4 were recovered by our teams, which was amazing; unfortunately one did travel a little too far. We’re hoping it might one day find its way back to us when it washes up on a beach in Norway. 

We received loads of amazing  data, images and video clips captured by the payloads’ cameras and sensors."

We’re really excited to see what our Skycademy graduates get up to this year! To find out more about Skycademy:

  • Review our hashtag for the project #skycademy
  • Read Richard Hayler’s Blog
  • Listen to The Naked Scientists Podcast
  • Catch up with the Raspberry Pi Education Team at PyCon UK where we plan to do a HAB launch.
Google have launched a computational thinking course for educators. The goal of this course is to help educators learn about computational thinking, how it differs from computer science, and how it can be integrated into a variety of subject areas. The course is free to take, results in Google certification, and looks to be a fun way to learn about algorithms and patterns that can cross a multitude of subjects. 

Raspberry Pi in Estonia

This week Ben Nuttall and Rachel Rayns visited Tallinn for the launch of the 'Raspberry Pi in Estonia' project. For the last few months Ben Nuttall has been working with the British Embassy in Estonia to set up the project and give advice to maximise its effect - and Raspberry Pi is part-funding the initiative along with TransferWise. 

At the launch event, 20 schools were presented with sets of Raspberry Pi kits which they will be using to set up community hubs around Estonia. It was attended by Ben and Rachel, the British Ambassador and the Estonian Prime Minister - both of whom gave speeches expressing their excitement for the project and gratitude to TransferWise and Raspberry Pi for their contribution. The event was preceded by a set of workshops and demonstrations for children, followed by a session for the Tallinn Informatics Teachers Group.

The hubs will be used as part of teaching computing to children all over Estonia and we are really excited to see our mission reach more people. We can’t wait to see how Estonian teachers innovate with Raspberry Pi in the classroom. See a storify of all the day’s tweets; Ben's blog post, and see the British Embassy’s photo album on Facebook.

Until next time, keep on computing!

Carrie Anne
Education Pioneer
Raspberry Pi Foundation
Live coder and creator of the music live coding platform Sonic Pi, Sam Aaron has been teaching BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ MistaJam how to code music as part of the BBC Ten Pieces initiative. Read more here.
Help students explore how personal strengths open up many more career choices using science and maths with this free educational resource and app from the WISE Campaign called 'People Like Me'.
GoBox: Dexter Industries are launching the first ever robot subscription service. It’s aimed at kids age 7 and up along with the help of an adult. You can see more and sign up through their kickstarter campaign
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