Latest news from the Raspberry Pi Foundation Education Team
Hello and welcome to the May edition of our Education newsletter. You’re probably wondering where our March and April editions got to. In truth, we’ve been so busy creating and growing new projects that we haven’t had the time to write anything until now! This month's edition will bring you up to speed.
Get snap-happy with our new 8MP camera module
This month, we are excited to announce the addition of the new Raspberry Pi camera module v2 to our already formidable arsenal of making and hacking accoutrements. It costs the same as the original camera board ($25) but is based on Sony’s IMX219 sensor, which gives it an upgrade from 5 megapixels to 8 megapixels. None too shabby! Another great built-in feature is the colour auto-correct, which helps when shooting under different lighting conditions. Two variants are available: the standard visible light camera and the Pi NoIR camera, which does not employ an infrared filter and so is capable of detecting infrared light.
Last year, leading UK space organisations joined forces with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake and the Raspberry Pi Foundation to offer students a chance to code their own apps and experiments to be run in space. Two augmented Raspberry Pi computers, called Astro Pis, have been flown to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of Tim's mission. They are each equipped with different cameras and a range of sensors that the students can use in a wide variety of experiments. Because the Astro Pi hardware is available to students, they have a unique opportunity to work with the same equipment as Tim Peake is using on the ISS.
During the months of February and March, the Astro Pi computers successfully carried out all the student experiments created by the winners of last year's competition. The results have been downloaded and returned to the students, who have been busy analysing the results. We are giving each of them the opportunity to be the first to publish their findings online, but eventually all of the data collected in space will be available on the Astro Pi website for anyone to use. Find out about the winners and their imaginative experiments here. You can also see a sneak peek of one of the pictures captured during the EnviroPi earth observation experiment.
Click through to our video for an exclusive look at our recent competition winners and find out how they came up with the awesome projects that got their code into space!
Your music in space
This year's Astro Pi coding challenges posed two challenges to students. One challenge invited them to hack the Astro Pi flight computer to turn it into an MP3 player with buttons for play, stop, rewind, etc. The other asked them to compose a piece of original music using Sonic Pi, a piece of software that allows you to create music by writing code. The goal was to have Tim Peake listen to songs composed by students on an MP3 player coded by students! The entries were judged in early April, and the winning entries are currently being uploaded to the ISS with plans to be used by Tim around mid-May.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you will have heard of Sonic Pi, Dr Sam Aaron's awesome synthesizer software that takes an innovative new approach to teaching programming. Developed at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory with funding from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Sonic Pi not only allows you to create, describe and annotate music using code. Teaching music in this way can be a great tool for engagement with core programming skills. For example, data structures can be riffs, functions can be musical phrases and randomisation can be used to introduce variety.
Since its inception in late 2012, Sonic Pi has been developed and extended with the involvement of teachers, educators and artists. In April, v2.10 of Sonic Pi was released, including several enhancements: error messages are friendlier, new sounds and samples have been added, and a new sample-loading system has been built to make it very simple to work with large folders of pre-recorded sounds.
Sonic Pi comes as standard with Raspbian, our default operating system, and is available to download for free for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. To download the new version of the software and start creating some tunes, visit sonic-pi.net.
Hello Newcastle, Liverpool and London! New dates for Picademy and Code Club Teacher Training
After six fully booked events in Manchester, our team are excited to be running our Picademy and Code Club Teacher Training in Newcastle, London and Liverpool in the UK. Applications for these went live at the start of April and, as usual, created a buzz in the education community with several dates quickly becoming oversubscribed.
As part of Google’s Digital Garage programme, we will continue to offer our free two-day CPD events for teachers and other educators in the following locations:
Newcastle @ Newcastle City Library: 18/19 and 26/27 May, 03/04 June and 27/28 June
Liverpool @ Edgehill University Campus: 20/21 June
We are also running a special one-off event in London at a space kindly provided by Google. This event is now fully booked.
Code Club Teacher Training
If you want something more compact to fit into your busy schedule, Code Club Teacher Training will also be running in Newcastle alongside Picademy events. The training is only two hours long and provides teachers with practical activities and engaging resources to develop young people’s understanding. The sessions are delivered in school, as INSET or twilight sessions, and are mapped against the new computing curriculum. We offer three modules: Computational Thinking, Programming, and Internet and the Web.
We’re happy to announce the date and location of our third Picademy USA workshop. It will take place August 13 and 14 at the Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland. Applications are open now and will close in early July. We want to hear from all of the most enthusiastic and creative educators from all disciplines—not just computing. Picademy cohorts are made up of an incredible mixture of different types of educators from different subject areas. Not only will these educators learn about digital making from the Raspberry Pi education team, but they’ll be meeting and collaborating with a group of incredibly passionate peers.
To give you an idea of the passion and enthusiasm we see at Picademy, we want to introduce you to our second US cohort of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators (see above pic). Last weekend at the Computer History Museum, they gathered from all over North America to learn the ropes of digital making with Raspberry Pi and collaborate on projects together. They knocked it out of the park.
We are proud to be partnering with Computing At School to support this year’s CAS #include Diversity & Inclusion in Computing Education Conference, which will take place at the University of Manchester, UK on 11 June.
The day is a mixture of hands-on hacking workshops and expert guidance that will give you practical strategies to make the computing curriculum come alive for students across the five strands of Gender, Ethnicity, Disability, Socio-Economic Status and SEN.
Engagement with EBD and ASC children in a special school environment using iPads
Using Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi to engage autistic and ADHD children in programming
Code Club is on a mission to create a club in every community in the world! Would you like to join our global movement and get kids coding in your local area?
You can get involved in three different ways:
Start a Code Club: help us inspire the next generation by running a Code Club. Get in touch with your local school to volunteer for an hour each week.
Translate our projects: translate the Code Club projects into your native language and help us reach more children in your local community.
Start a local Code Club Community: establish a community in your country and take charge of growing Code Club activities in your region.
Code Club is a worldwide network of volunteer-led extracurricular coding clubs for children aged 9-11. You can find out more by visiting Code Club World's website and following @CodeClubWorld on Twitter!