Raspberry Pi in Education Newsletter - Issue 5 - February 2015
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Raspberry Pi in Education


Latest news from the Raspberry Pi Foundation Education Team


It was great to meet so many people who stopped to have a chat at our stand at the BETT Show in January. We were showing off our free resources, free software, free training and ways to win free Raspberry Pis for the classroom. Thanks to our wonderful community, we had Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, students, and members of our enthusiastic community running hands-on sessions and giving talks every half-hour, for four days! You can read education team member Clive Beale's report about it here

February is already turning out to be a monumental month, which began with the launch of the brand new Raspberry Pi 2. Meanwhile, Dr Sam Aaron has been locked in a dark room with his Pi and a huge sound system, judging all the Sonic Pi 2 competition entries. We have further news about ways in which you can get involved with the Weather Station Project, and finally the second edition of 'Adventures in Raspberry Pi', my book to help children begin their Pi expedition, goes on sale on 13th Feb with up-to-date info on applications like Sonic Pi and Minecraft Pi. 

Raspberry Pi 2 - What's New?

Raspberry Pi 2 went on sale for $35 at the start of this month. It is six times faster than the Model B and B+, thanks to a 900MHz, quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU; and it boasts twice the memory with 1GB RAM. This upgrade means that the device can run a full range of operating systems and applications. Student favourites such as Sonic Pi and Minecraft Pi will run much faster, allowing them to get almost instantaneous feedback when they run their code, and a great feeling of empowerment when it works. Adventures in Minecraft co-author and Picademy Trainer Martin O'Hanlon is already very excited about the possibilities


Astro Pi Competition Update

Don't worry if you have a class set of original Raspberry Pi 1s: all our free resources will work with them, and we will continue to support them with our free software. In fact, the two Raspberry Pis that are going into space with British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake will be Model B+, so if you want to use your Pis as part of a space project in both primary and secondary, then this is the competition for you!

The Astro Pi competition was officially launched at the BETT Show by Raspberry Pi Foundation CEO Lance Howarth, representatives from UK Space, and our very own education team member Dave Honess. We worked with our friends at Saladhouse Animation to create this fabulous animation, voiced by Tim Peake himself – you can play it in class to your students to help them get started.

If you would like to see your children's code in space, then all the information you need can be found on the Astro Pi website. We've also added a new section to our Raspberry Pi forum to support your discussions and ideas – come and talk to us! 

Some important dates for your diary:

  • 21-24th January 2015: Competition officially opened at the BETT Show
  • 3rd April 2015: Primary school competition closes
  • 3rd April 2015: Deadline for secondary school teams to submit their concepts, and have a chance to receive an Astro Pi board and a Raspberry Pi.
  • 29th June 2015: Final deadline for secondary school teams to submit their code and full entries.

Sonic Pi Competition Finalists Announced

To celebrate the launch of Sonic Pi 2 last year, we held the inaugural Sonic Pi competition. We were looking for some of the best space-themed music, coded with Sonic Pi v2.0 on a Raspberry Pi by school children in the UK aged from seven to 16; and we were not disappointed.

After a month of judging, we have whittled all the entries down to just ten finalists. We will be announcing the overall competition winner at the Raspberry Pi birthday celebrations at the end of February. Here are Sam's thoughts on the competition:

Greetings Live Coders! Let's gather round to discuss the results of the Sonic Pi competition. It's something I've been looking forward to talking about for a long time. You see, I wrote Sonic Pi to give people the tools to make music they otherwise may never have made. It may sound crazy, but had a dream that once Sonic Pi was in the hands of others, especially children, music I couldn't even dream about would be created using it. If you look back into the history of music you'll see an interesting pattern - time and time again new genres of music explode out of people fearlessly experimenting with new technology. It was therefore a wonderful experience for me to listen to every one of the entries and repeatedly hear a fearless experimentation with code as a new technology for music. Thank you!

This year's competition was all about space, and it was fantastic to hear such a broad range of interpretations of the theme. Through the music, I was taken on a range of exciting journeys - drifting through galaxies, exploring the moon, escaping space battles and hearing sounds which can only be described as alien.

Another aspect of the competition was the structure and readability of the code. Again, I was amazed by how much of Sonic Pi's functionality was being used across all age ranges. Some people think it's crazy to teach threads at school level, but these compositions show that the concept has not only been understood; it has been used in interesting ways. It was lovely to see so many of the entries display a real care for how the code was laid out and organised. Many were at the standard of a professional programmer!

Of course, every competition needs winners, and we'll get to those in a moment. However, before we do, I'd like to express my deepest thanks for everyone that entered. Each one of your entries made me smile. Thank you so much, and please keep on coding! 

Sam Aaron

If you would like to see and hear the 10 finalist compositions, you can do so on our Sonic Pi competition results page here. We've also created a Soundcloud album of the finalists so that you can listen to the compositions whenever, wherever!


Free Weather Station Kits for Schools

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has teamed up with Oracle to announce the Oracle Raspberry Pi Weather Station for schools. We are looking for 1000 schools across the globe to sign up and participate in the global weather experiment. As a participating school you’ll receive a free weather station kit, and be asked to build and commission a weather station with pupils from your school. The kits will be supported with a range of teaching materials covering computing and weather-related topics. The big experiment starts in March 2015, so register your interest by clicking on the button below, and we’ll contact you in the coming weeks to discuss the programme in more detail.

Register your school now!

Free CPD for Teachers

Continuing professional development for teachers does not have to be an expensive or taxing experience. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity, and one of the ways we help teachers is by offering a free two-day training course called Picademy. It is designed especially for primary and secondary teachers, as well as home educators, regardless of computing experience. It is open to teachers from anywhere in the world, with any subject specialism. 

Applications for April's Picademy (27th - 28th April), which will take place at our HQ in Cambridge, UK, are open! Complete your application by clicking 'apply now'. Remember we have only 24 places, and are looking for passionate teachers who are open-minded, creative people who love to share, whatever their skill level. Make sure you use all the application form fields to get this across to us!

Another fantastic free resource for teachers is Computing At Schools' Quickstart Computing, a CPD toolkit to help deliver inspiring computing lessons in primary and secondary schools. I'd also recommend checking out what other great teachers are doing and sharing on Twitter with the hashtags #picademy #compeduk and #tweachcode.

Keep on computing!
Carrie Anne
Education Pioneer
Raspberry Pi Foundation
Applications for Picademy April are open, apply now to snag a place on our free cpd for teachers at our HQ in Cambridge, UK.
Our friends at Linux Voice magazine who often write Raspberry Pi tutorials and articles about computing education are offering free copies for schools, register today to get yours! 
Teach, learn and make with our free creative commons resources, designed for learning as part of our educational mission. 
Copyright © 2014 Raspberry Pi Foundation, All rights reserved.

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