Author Archives: clive

PA Consulting Raspberry Pi competition 2016

via Raspberry Pi

This thing will change your life

In October 2011, Raspberry Pi co-founder Jack Lang handed me a beta version of the Raspberry Pi. This changed my life. The Pi was familiar yet unworldly:  a computer the size of a credit card. As both a teacher and a maker it was a revelation. For the next year I nested in a skip in Cambridge, chittering gently and generally making a pest of myself, until the Foundation lured me into their very first office with a trail of Jaffa Cakes, and put me to work.

Homewood School's SportTrax GPS system

Homewood School’s SportTrax GPS system

It was the best of times…

In early 2013, Computing in the English National Curriculum was over a year away, and although things were starting to happen in the world of computing education, the Pi was still a little bit groovy and a little bit radical for the average ICT classroom. Fortunately, we weren’t the only ones who thought that this small computer could bring about big changes. PA Consulting spotted the potential of the Pi — still in its first incarnation — as a tool for making, problem-solving and collaboration. Each year they challenge schools to use the Raspberry Pi to invent something around a theme. I was lucky to be one of the judges for the first competition in 2013 and it’s been one of my favourite Raspberry Pi events since.

PA’s Raspberry Pi Competition 2016 – Finals

PA’s Raspberry Pi Competition 2016 – Finals Making the difference by inspiring the innovators of the future @PA_Consulting – #PAPiAwards16 – @PA_RaspberryPi http://www.paconsulting.com/raspberrypi Finalists event: 14 April 2016 The Raspberry Pi is one of the most exciting innovations of recent years.

We set this competition up four years ago because at PA we are passionate about technology and innovation, so it was really important for us to encourage the next generation to be as passionate as we are. — Anita Chandraker, Head of Digital at PA Consulting

The 2016 competition

This is the fourth year that I’ve helped judge the competition and each year we’ve been amazed by this innovation and passion. The 2016 final, held at the magnificent Institution of Engineering and Technology in London, was no different. The theme was ‘sports and leisure’, and students scrambled to explain how they’d built and programmed their inventions, which ranged from keep-fit games in Scratch to applications that wouldn’t look out of place at a tech show.

pa rory

I helped judge the Year 12-13 category which, after much tea and deliberation, was won by Highgate School with PiTime, a system for recording race times and taking finish-line photos. Despite stiff competition — Homewood School’s seriously professional SportTrax deserves a special mention — PiTime won because it was cheap, smart and solved a real-world problem for the team members, who are both competitive runners. Full details of all finalists and the winners in other age categories are on PA’s competition site.

Egglescliffe CE Primary School's Colour Smash

Egglescliffe CE Primary School’s Colour Smash

Success story

As well as showing off their creations, the finalists had the chance to meet experts from industry and the world of tech. One of these sages was Tom Hartley, winner of the 2013 competition with teammate Alyssa Dayan for their AirPi. He says that the competition, “… opened up a world of opportunities for me — things I never could have imagined became possible.” Tom is currently studying Electronic and Information Engineering at Imperial College, and it’s wonderful to think that the competition and the Raspberry Pi have played some small part in this.

Tom Hartley speaking to kids

Where does your pebble walk to, Grasshopper? Tom Hartley sharing WISDOM.

Digital making is central to the Foundation’s ethos. It’s a crazy Venn diagram of fabulous skills, from problem-solving, collaboration and creativity through to programming, electronics and soldering. All put in a Klein bottle and given a good shake. PA Consulting saw this very early on and we’re pleased and proud that they continue to run such an inspiring competition.

Digital making is also a powerful and beautiful thing: it changed my life, it changed Tom’s life, and it’s changing the lives of young people all over the world.  So get involved, whether it’s though a Raspberry Jam, a local hack space, Code Club or just by browsing our resources for ideas. And if you are a teacher then please enter the PA Competition next year — even if doesn’t end up changing lives it’s a lot of fun and a great day out for the students :)

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Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Stations shipped

via Raspberry Pi

Big brown boxes

If this blog was an Ealing comedy, it would be a speeded-up montage of an increasingly flustered postman delivering huge numbers of huge boxes to school reception desks across the land. At the end, they’d push their cap up at a jaunty angle and wipe their brow with a large spotted handkerchief. With squeaky sound effects.

Over the past couple of days, huge brown boxes have indeed been dropping onto the counters of school receptions across the UK, and they contain something wonderful— a Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station.

DJCS on Twitter

Code club students building a weather station kindly donated by the @Raspberry_Pi foundation thanks @clivebeale pic.twitter.com/yGQP4BQ6SP

This week, we sent out the first batch of Weather Station kits to 150 UK schools. Yesterday – World Meteorological Day, of course! – they started to appear in the wild.

DHFS Computing Dept on Twitter

The next code club project has just arrived! Can’t wait to get stuck in! @Raspberry_Pi @clivebeale pic.twitter.com/axA7wJ1RMF

Pilot “lite”

We’re running the UK delivery as a short pilot scheme. With almost 1000 schools involved worldwide, it will give us a chance us to tweak software and resources, and to get a feel for how we can best support schools.  In the next few weeks, we’ll send out the remainder of the weather stations. We’ll have a good idea of when this will be next week, when the first kits have been in schools for a while.

Once all the stations are shipped, we’ll be extending and expanding our teaching and learning resources. In particular, we would like resources for big data management and visualisation, and for non-computing subjects such as geography.  And, of course, if you make any of your own we’d love to see them.

BWoodhead Primary on Twitter

Super exciting raspberry pi weather station arrived, very lucky to be one of the 150 uk schools @rasberrypi pic.twitter.com/ZER0RPKqIf

 “Just” a milestone

This is a big milestone for the project, but it’s not the end by any means. In fact, it’s just the start as schools start to build their stations, using them to investigate the weather and to learn. We’re hoping to see and encourage lots of collaboration between schools. We started the project back in 2014. Over time, it’s easy to take any project for granted, so it was brilliant to see the excitement of teachers and students when they received their kit.

Stackpole V.C School on Twitter

We were really excited to receive our @Raspberry_Pi weather station today. Indoor trial tomorrow. @clivebeale pic.twitter.com/7fsI7DYCYg

It’s been a fun two years, and if you’ve opened a big brown box this morning and found a weather station inside, we think you’ll agree that it’s been worth the wait.

Building and setting up your weather station

The weather station page has tutorials for building the hardware and setting up the software for your weather station are here, along with a scheme of work for teachers and other resources.

Getting involved

The community is hugely important to us and whether you’ve just received a weather station or not, we’d love to hear from you.  The best way to get involved is to come to the friendly Weather Station corner of our forums and say hi. This is also the place to get help and to share ideas. If you’re tweeting, then you can reach us @raspberry_pi or on the hashtag #weatherstation – thanks!

BA Science on Twitter

Our weather station has arrived!Thanks to @Raspberry_Pi now need some students to help us build it! @BromptonAcademy pic.twitter.com/8qZPG3JTaQ

Buying the kit

We’re often asked if we’ll be selling the kits. We’re currently looking into this and hope that they will be commercially available at some point. I’d love to see a Raspberry Pi Weather Station attached to every school – it’s a project that genuinely engages students across many subjects. In addition, the data gathered from thousands of weather stations, all sending data back to a central database, would be really useful.

That’s all for now

But now that the kits are shipped there’ll be lots going on, so expect more news soon. And do pop into the forums for a chat.

Thanks

As well as the talented and lovely folk at Pi Towers, we’ve only made it this far with the help of others. At risk of turning into a mawkish awards ceremony speech, a few shout-outs are needed:

Oracle for their generous funding and the database support, especially Nicole at Oracle Giving, Jane at Oracle Academy, and Jeff who built our Apex database.

Rachel, Kevin and team @cpc_tweet for the kit build (each kit has around 80 parts!) and amazing logistics support.

@HackerJimbo for sterling software development and the disk image.

If I’ve missed you out, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you.

 

 

 

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