Raspberry Pi in Education Newsletter - Issue 19 - October 2016
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The latest blood-curdling screams from the Raspberry Pi Foundation Education Team

Greetings, denizens of the education underworld. It is with deepest sympathies that we inform you of our October Halloween edition of the Education Newsletter.

Do you dare read on to discover what foul tracts lurk within these pages? Are you weak of constitution or prone to fits of hysteria? Then begone! 'Tis not for the faint-hearted. As the Red Priestess from Game of Thrones once said, "The Newsletter is dark and full of terrors. It also provides useful things to help you in the classroom. But mostly terrors..."

And yet, we sense that years of dealing with small children has forged steadfast nerves within you. Perhaps there is hope for you yet! Read on, if you dare...

May we wish you a most gruesome month; we're off to fill our faces with pumpkin pi.

The Education Team 

Announcing the first ever European Astro Pi challenge!

Last year, in collaboration with the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency, we ran a competition that allowed students all over the UK to design experiments to run on the Astro Pi units on board the International Space Station.

Tim is safely back on Earth now, but French ESA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet is soon launching to the ISS, and he’s keen to see what students from all over Europe can do with Astro Pi too. So ESA, together with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, are launching a brand-new Astro Pi Challenge, and this time it’s open to children from every ESA member country.

Read Marc's blog post to find out more.

Start a Raspberry Jam in your community


Raspberry Jams are community events centred around learning with the Raspberry Pi. Run all over the UK, Jams are a great opportunity for hobbyists, educators, and anyone who wants to learn more about digital making to come together to share skills. Some Jams have talks and workshops; others have freeform, hands-on maker sessions for participants to work on projects and get help from experts in the community. Jams are usually free or very cheap to attend.

There are currently over 35 regular Jams in the UK, which is great! To meet our aim of putting digital making in the hands of everyone, we need more of these opportunities for people to get involved. The Foundation’s Community Manager Ben Nuttall is on a mission to help volunteers set up even more Jams. After announcing he was running two in October at the Google Digital Garage in Glasgow and Pi Towers in Cambridge, they both sold out in a matter of days! Encouraged by this level of interest, the Cambridge Pi Towers Jam will now run regularly, so watch out on social media for the next one.

If you want to see a Jam pop up near you, get in touch and we’ll help you get started. All you need is a venue (try schools, universities, libraries, and community centres), and you’re good to go. Jams don’t have to be big: you can start off small and see what works.

Visit the Raspberry Jam page

Introducing PIXEL, our new desktop environment

Raspberry Pi users expecting the usual updates and bug fixes from the latest Raspbian release were given a nice surprise last week with a comprehensive update to the look, feel, and functionality of our desktop. Boasting a host of new features and applications, including a new internet browser, PIXEL makes using the Pi's UI even more intuitive.

Read Simon's blog post to find out more.

Space 4 Inspiration

The European Space Agency recently ran a conference at the London Science Museum that hoped to build cross-sector relationships between industry, research councils, and governments. The goal was to explore how research in space can create opportunities to meet key challenges here on Earth.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation was invited to give a keynote speech about Astro Pi to open the From Inspiration to Innovation panel discussions. The keynote was given by David Honess, the Programme Manager for Astro Pi, and featured Jasper and Ozzie Hayler-Goodall from Cranmere Primary School Code Club, who won the 2015 competition with their Crew Detector program.

Click on the image above to watch Dave's talk (it starts at 01 mins 45 secs).

Code Club World Spotlight: Ukraine


In 2015, Code Club launched an international programme to get more kids coding. This decision followed the organic growth of Code Clubs in communities across the globe. Today, there are over 3200 Code Clubs outside of the UK, spanning six continents.

The movement was quick to take off in Ukraine; they were one of the first countries to develop an official Code Club, with coding projects being translated into their native language. Since 2013, they've been working to give children across the country access to coding education and digital skills.

The difficult economic and military situation in Ukraine has certainly been a challenging environment in which to make Code Clubs thrive. Over the last academic year, however, we're really proud of how they've grown: there are now approximately 110 clubs running in schools, community venues, libraries, and IT offices across Ukraine, and we expect another 90 to open this academic year. In our modern world, learning a programming language is as important as learning to write and read, so we're pleased that parents understand this and bring their children to work with us.

Code Club Ukraine is an active member of the IT education sector and they often take part in exhibitions and maker faires, and organise excursions and master classes for kids. They regularly meet with volunteers, providing lectures and training on running a club. Their team have already recruited volunteers from several leading Ukrainian tech companies including Grammarly, Cogniance, and Sigma Software, though they're always looking for more to get involved!

To find out more, visit the Code Club Ukraine website:

Want to start a Code Club in your country? Find out how you can support the next generation of digital makers on the Code Club International website:

Join our CAS research conference

Are you a teacher interested in research? The Computing At School Research group are meeting on 27 October in Cambridge to share and discuss the latest research in computing education and how it can support teachers in the classroom. Everyone is welcome: you don't have to be working on research right now, just interested in how research can help uncover the most effective approaches to teaching and learning in computing.

Sign up for the conference

Generate poetry for our Ada Lovelace Day competition

Tuesday 11 October is Ada Lovelace Day, an annual celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).

If you're looking for an activity for your classroom to mark the day, Code Club have an Ada-themed Scratch project and school assembly pack, offering a fun and informative way of helping to shine a spotlight on Ada’s achievements, and to help inspire more women and girls into careers in the technology sector.

Inspired by Ada’s “poetical science” approach to her study of mathematics, the Scratch project shows how to create a poetry-generating machine! Have a go at “Ada’s Poetry Generator” on the Code Club website.

The ready-to-use assembly plan focuses on understanding the story of Ada Lovelace, the significance of her achievements, the problems that can be solved by computer science, and sharing stories of women in computing today. You can download the assembly plan and introduction notes here.

We hope you’ll enjoy using these resources; please share them far and wide, and help inspire more children to get excited about coding and Ada Lovelace Day!

Our Weather Stations are plotting world domination

Raspberry Pi Weather Stations are continuing to land in the hands of people all over the world. We currently have confirmation that 770 kits have reached their new homes. Some of the kits are already up and running and being admired by a large audience. One of our kits, and its lucky owner, even featured on a local TV station in Serbia. Watch to see some great shots of the Weather Station kit up close. Obviously, Serbian news is not presented in English, but some of you may be able to translate!

Some of the projects that we've heard about include adaptations which use solar panels and wireless internet connections. Others have thought about using the Raspberry Pi-powered Weather Station to help with real-life problems within the local community. A recent incident in Brazil, where a dam leaked and collapsed, destroying a small town and tragically claiming lives, has inspired one of our Weather Station owners, Fabio Rocha. Fabio plans to use the kit, along with other components, to monitor wind speed, direction, and rainfall. He will also track the water level and the structure of the dam. Fabio hopes that the information collected will help them to find indications of leaks or other signs of wear and tear. His group of makers will then program the modified kit to send alerts directly to their smartphones, helping them to provide an early warning system for residents. We can't wait to see the further development of projects like this across the globe.

Got an interesting story about how you're using the Weather Station? Drop us a line and tell us about it.

New offline Sense HAT emulator developed for Astro Pi 

Last month, we told you about a Sense HAT emulator that runs in your web browser. The Sense HAT is the multi-purpose add-on board for the Raspberry Pi which is also the core component of the Astro Pi units on the International Space Station.

This month, we would like to introduce you to another emulator that runs natively on your Raspberry Pi desktop, instead of inside a browser. Developed by Dave Jones, it’s intended for people who own a Raspberry Pi but not a Sense HAT.

So, why do we need two versions? 

  • For offline use, possibly the most common way Raspberry Pis are used in the classroom.
  • To accommodate the oldest 256 MB models of Raspberry Pi which cannot run the web version.
  • To allow you to integrate your Sense HAT program with any available Python modules, or other Raspberry Pi features such as the Camera Module.

The emulator comes pre-installed in the Raspbian release mentioned above, so look out for it under the Programming menu. 

Always look on the bright side of life *cue whistling*

PyConUK is an annual Python conference which brings together developers and educators, this year in Cardiff 's glorious City Hall. It’s a wonderful event, open to all, and this year they added a Beginners’ Day that introduced new people to Python.

Friday was Teachers’ Day, which gave teachers the chance to learn how to use Python for activities in the classroom. Bursaries for teachers were made available by the Bank of America who sponsored the event. This meant teachers could attend and have the cost of their cover... well, covered! 

The Raspberry Pi Foundation led workshops for teachers, including a digital making session using servos controlled by our physical computing library, GPIO Zero. Saturday was Kids’ Day, where we ran a series of workshops for local children, including building a Snapchat photo booth with Picamera. Kids also made a Minecraft Pi earthquake, using the combined technology of the BBC micro:bit and Raspberry Pi, in a workshop with Martin O’Hanlon. This is now available as a new resource on our website.

As well as running workshops, we invited developers from the main track to help teachers solve problems. Some teachers asked developers for ideas on teaching particular concepts, or prompted them to create more education-friendly libraries!

We got a lot out of meeting so many new educators this year. Be sure to come along to PyConUK next year: it’ll be in Cardiff in the autumn.

Find out more about PyConUK.


Latest Resources

Use your micro:bit in the physical world to control Minecraft's Steve in our Micromine Bitcraft resource.
Write and create pictures about yourself using Python in our About Me resource. 
Learn how to make customised online birthday cards with our Happy Birthday project.
Copyright © 2016 Raspberry Pi Foundation. All rights reserved.

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