Author Archives: Dan Fisher

Say hello to Isaac Computer Science

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We are delighted to co-launch Isaac Computer Science, a new online platform for teachers and students of A level Computer Science.

Introducing Isaac Computer Science

Introducing the new Isaac Computer Science online learning platform and calendar of free events for students and teachers. Be the first to know about new features and content on the platform: Twitter – ncce.io/ytqstw Instagram – ncce.io/ytqsig Facebook – ncce.io/ytqsfb If you are a teacher, you may also be interested in our free online training courses for GCSE Computer Science teachers.

The project is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the University of Cambridge, and is funded by the Department for Education’s National Centre for Computing Education programme.

Isaac Computer Science

Isaac Computer Science gives you access to a huge range of online learning materials for the classroom, homework, and revision — all for free.

The platform’s resources are mapped to the A level specifications in England (including the AQA and OCR exam boards). You’ll be able to set assignments for your students, have the platform mark it for you, and be confident that the content is relevant and high quality. We are confident that this will save you time in planning lessons and setting homework.

“Computer Science is a relatively small subject area and teachers across the country often work alone without the support of colleagues. Isaac Computer Science will build a teaching and learning community to support teachers at all levels and will offer invaluable support to A level students in their learning journey. As an experienced teacher, I am very excited to have the opportunity to work on this project.”
– Diane Dowling, Isaac Computer Science Learning Manager and former teacher

And that’s not all! To further support you, we are also running free student workshops and teacher CPD events at universities and schools around England. Tickets for the events are available to book through the Isaac Computer Science website.

“Isaac Computer Science helped equip me with the skills to teach A level, and ran a great workshop at one of their recent Discovery events using the micro:bit and the Kitronik :MOVE mini. This is a session that I’ll definitely be using again and again.”
 – James Spencer, Computer Science teacher at St Martin’s School

A teacher works with her students at our recent Discovery event in Cambridge.

Why sign up?

Isaac Computer Science provides:

  • High-quality materials written by experienced teachers
  • Resources mapped to the AQA and OCR specifications
  • CPD events for teachers
  • Workshops for students

Isaac Computer Science allows you to:

  • Plan lessons around high-quality content pages, thus saving time
  • Select and set self-marking homework questions
  • Pinpoint areas to work on with your students
  • Manage students’ progress in your personal markbook

Start using Isaac Computer Science today:

  • Sign up at isaaccomputerscience.org
  • Request a teacher account and register your students
  • Start using the platform in your classroom!

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Your Back-to-School Bootcamp with our free online training

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Are you ready FEEL THE BURN…of your heating laptop? And MAX THOSE REPS…using forever loops? Then get your programming muscles into the best shape possible with our free online training courses.

Pump up your programming skills for free

Today we are excited to announce our new online training course Programming with GUIs — now open for sign-ups on FutureLearn. To celebrate, we’ve also curated a set of courses as your personal Back-to-school Bootcamp. Sign up now to start training from Monday 29 July and throughout August!

Scratch Cat and a Python supervising teachers at an outdoor bootcamp

Your Back-to-school Bootcamp has something for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners, and all the courses are free, thanks to support from Google.

Also keep in mind that all the courses count towards becoming certified through the National Centre for Computing Education.

Couch to 5k…lines of code

If you’re just beginning to learn about coding, the perfect place to start is Programming 101: An Introduction to Python for Educators. You’ll first get to grips with basic programming concepts by learning about the basics of Python syntax and how to interpret error messages. Then you’ll use your new coding skills to create a chatbot that asks and answers questions!

Scratch Cat and a Python doing a relay race

For Primary teachers, our course Scratch to Python: Moving from Block- to Text-based Programming is ideal. Take this course if you’ve been using Scratch and are wondering how to introduce Python to your older students.

If you’ve been programming for a while, sign up for our brand-new course Programming with GUIs — an intermediate-level course that shows you how to build your own graphical user interface (GUI) in Python. You will learn how to incorporate interactivity in your programs, discover different types of GUI features, and build your confidence to design more complex GUI-based apps in the future.

Or maybe you’d like to try Programming 101’s follow-on course Programming 102: Think Like a Computer Scientist? Take your Python skills further by learning to break down problems into smaller tasks and designing algorithms you can apply to data.

Finally, if you’re an experienced computing educator, dig into Object-oriented Programming in Python, a really fun and challenging course that helps you get to grips with OOP principles by creating a text-based adventure game in Python.

Scratch Cat and a Python supervising an outdoors sports activity

Sign-ups are open until the end of August. Now go get those gains!

Tell us about your workout routine

What will your personal coding regime look like this summer? What online courses have you enjoyed taking this year? (They don’t have to be ours!) Tell us in the comments below.

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Hello World Issue 6: Ethical Computing

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Join us for an in-depth exploration of ethical computing in the newest issue of Hello World, our magazine for computing and digital making educators. It’s out today!

 

We need to talk about ethics

Whatever area of computing you hail from, how to take an ethical approach to the projects we build with code is an important question. As educators, we also need to think about the attitudes we are passing on to our students as we guide them along their computing journey.

Ensuring that future generations use technology for good and consider the ethical implications of their creations is vital, particularly as self-learning AI systems are becoming prevalent. Let’s be honest: none of us want to live in a future resembling The Terminator’s nightmarish vision, however unlikely that is to come true.

With that in mind, we’ve brought together a wide range of experts to share their ideas on the moral questions that teaching computing raises, and on the social implications of computing in the wider context of society.

More in this issue

We’ve also got the latest news about exciting online courses from Raspberry Pi and articles on Minecraft, Scratch, and the micro:bit. As usual, we also answer your latest questions and bring you an excellent collection of helpful features, guides, and lesson plans!

Highlights of issue 6 include:

  • Doing the right thing: can computing help create ‘good citizens’?
  • Ethics in the curriculum: how to introduce them to students
  • Microblocks: live programming for microcontrollers
  • The 100-word challenge: a free resource to unlock creative writing

You can download your PDF of Hello World #6 from our website right now! It’s freely available under a Creative Commons licence.

Subscribe to Hello World

We offer free print copies of the magazine to all computing educators in the UK. This includes teachers, Code Club and CoderDojo volunteers, teaching assistants, teacher trainers, and others who help children and young people learn about computing and digital making.

Subscribe to have your free print magazine posted directly to your home, or subscribe digitally — 24000 educators have already signed up to receive theirs!

If you live outside the UK and are interested in computer science and digital making education (and since you’ve read this far, I think you are!), subscribe to always get the latest issue as a PDF file straight to your inbox.

Get in touch!

You could write for us about your experiences as an educator to share your advice with the community. Wherever you are in the world, get in touch by emailing our editorial team about your article idea — we would love to hear from you!

Hello World magazine is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Computing At School, which is part of the British Computing Society.

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Celebrating our teachers

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The end of the academic year is here, and we are marking the occasion by celebrating teachers from all over the world.

Raspberry Pi Teachers Computing highlight 2018

For those about to teach, we salute you.

Since last September, we’ve run a whole host of programmes that teachers have been involved in. From training with us at Picademy to building apocalyptic projects for Pioneers, from running Code Clubs, Dojos, and Raspberry Jams to learning tea-making algorithms on our free online training courses, these brilliant people do amazing things on a daily basis. And even more amazingly, they somehow also have the energy to take their knowledge into schools and share it with their learners to get them excited about computing too.

Dr Sue Sentance, the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s new Chief Learning Officer, has trained teachers for many years and understands better than most the impact a good teacher can have:

“When thinking about teaching Computing, we often get so caught up in the technology — what software, what kit, what environment, etc. — that we forget that it’s the teachers who actually facilitate students’ learning and inspire and motivate the students. A passionate and enthusiastic teacher is more important than which device or tool the students are using, because they understand what will help their students. “

In celebration of our education community, we asked teachers around the world to answer one big question:

“What has been your computing highlight of the year?”

Caroline Keep

Raspberry Pi Teachers Computing highlight 2018

Caroline (top right) and her group of students at Spark Penketh

Caroline Keep won the TES New Teacher of the Year award and runs Spark Penketh, a school makerspace in Warrington. She will also be training with us in August to become a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator. Her highlight of the year was achieving success at the forefront of the UK’s makerspace movement:

“All the physical computing projects we’ve done since February when Raspberry Pi co-founder Pete Lomas opened our school makerspace (the first one in a UK state school) have been amazing! We’ve built and coded talking robots, and gesture-controlled ones on micro:bits with primary schools. We’ve built drones, coded Arduinos for European Maker Week, opened a RoboDojo, used Python and Node-RED on Raspberry Pi to control weather stations, Pi Camera Modules, and robots, and we’ve designed a Digital Creative pathway for Industry 4.0 skills for September. Next up are Google AIY Projects kits, Redfern Electronic’s Crumble, and Bare Conductive’s Touch Board. We can’t wait!”

Heidi Baynes

Raspberry Pi Teachers Computing highlight 2018

Heidi (left) and two other amazing US-based educators pose under a very apt sign. It’s like they planned it.

Heidi Baynes is an Education Coordinator for the County Office of Education in Riverside, California. Her highlight is a birthday party with a difference:

“The Riverside Raspberry Jam was held on 3 March 2018 as part of Raspberry Pi’s Big Birthday celebration. Fellow Picademy graduate Ari Flewelling and I planned the event in conjunction with Vocademy, and we were thrilled by the overwhelming support from the local community. The event featured a project showcase, workshops, and an introduction to all things Raspberry Pi. We can’t wait to start planning the 2019 Riverside Raspberry Jam! I was also particularly proud of the students from Mountain Heights Academy who shared their Raspberry Pi and micro:bit projects at the Consortium’s #CSforAll event in Riverside. Our student Hailey was able to share her experiences as part of a student panel and even had the opportunity to meet the CEO of code.org, Hadi Partovi!”

Amy Bloodworth

Raspberry Pi Teachers Computing highlight 2018

Amy Bloodworth and her Astro Pi–winning students

Amy Bloodworth is a teacher at The American School In Switzerland (TASIS) in Lugano, Switzerland. Her highlight is literally out of this world:

“It has been a busy year for us here in Switzerland. Highlights for me and my students include meeting a computer game designer, competing in the World Robot Olympiad, and participating in the Astro Pi Challenge. With Astro Pi, my students loved that they could send their coded message to the ISS astronauts in any of the languages of ESA. As we are an international school, so this helped the students feel more connected to the task. The Astro Pi Challenge hooked the students in and acted as a springboard for other activities, such as coding an ISS tracker that alerted them when the ISS was overhead, and other science experiments using the Sense HAT. Next year, I plan to start a new after-school club dedicated to competitive robotics.”

Janice Paterson

Raspberry Pi Teacher Computing highlight 2018

Janice Paterson’s lovely class of brain-eating zombies

Janice Paterson is the Principal Teacher at Wormit Primary in Fife, Scotland. Her highlight wouldn’t seem out of place in The Walking Dead:

“We loved the amazing open-ended challenge of a zombie apocalypse, courtesy of Raspberry Pi’s Pioneers programme. It was truly cross-curricular and completely immersive for all the young learners. The books were devoured for information/ideas, and the makeup kits inspired our imaginations and creative side. We had Pi-powered, zombie-detecting robots coded to offer assorted challenges, and micro:bits set up as zombie teacher detectors (their thermometers were used because, of course, teachers have hot bodies!). We all learned loads! The best bit was sharing it all with the rest of our Code Club and the whole school.”

Wojtek Zielinski

Wojtek Zielinski works in Poland as a teacher. His highlight was a breakthrough he had when working with the translated versions of our resources with his students:

“When children work with resources in English, they often end up following what’s in the pictures. They don’t understand why the game or the program they created works. Translated materials enable them to truly learn and understand programming concepts, and that empowers them to experiment and create more. Translations are therefore essential for learning.”

Our thanks

We are so grateful for everything our teachers do to help us make our programmes a success. Together we’ll be able to achieve our goal of making high-quality computing resources that are accessible to everyone!

As a quick aside, you might also be interested to read a recent article written by Raspberry Pi creator and co-founder Eben Upton about the positive impact his teachers had on him.

Whether you’re a teacher wanting to share your success, or you simply want to share your appreciation for the teachers who inspired you, tell us about it in the comments below.

And from everyone at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, there’s only one thing left to say…

Teachers, we salute you!

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Transition from Scratch to Python with FutureLearn

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With the launch of our first new free online course of 2018 — Scratch to Python: Moving from Block- to Text-based Programming — two weeks away, I thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce you to the ins and outs of the course content so you know what to expect.

FutureLearn: Moving from Scratch to Python

Learn how to apply the thinking and programming skills you’ve learnt in Scratch to text-based programming languages like Python.

Take the plunge into text-based programming

The idea for this course arose from our conversations with educators who had set up a Code Club in their schools. Most people start a club by teaching Scratch, a block-based programming language, because it allows learners to drag and drop blocks of pre-written code into a window to create a program. The blocks automatically snap together, making it easy to build fun and educational projects that don’t require much troubleshooting. You can do almost anything a beginner could wish for with Scratch, even physical computing to control LEDs, buzzers, buttons, and motors!

Scratch to Python FutureLearn Raspberry Pi

However, on our face-to-face training programme Picademy, educators told us that they were finding it hard to engage children who had outgrown Scratch and needed a new challenge. It was easy for me to imagine: a young learner, who once felt confident about programming using Scratch, is now confused by the alien, seemingly awkward interface of Python. What used to take them minutes in Scratch now takes them hours to code, and they start to lose interest — not a good result, I’m sure you’ll agree. I wanted to help educators to navigate this period in their learners’ development, and so I’ve written a course that shows you how to take the programming and thinking skills you and your learners have developed in Scratch, and apply them to Python.

Scratch to Python FutureLearn Raspberry Pi

Who is the course for?

Educators from all backgrounds who are working with secondary school-aged learners. It will also be interesting to anyone who has spent time working with Scratch and wants to understand how programming concepts translate between different languages.

“It was great fun, and I thought that the ideas and resources would be great to use with Year 7 classes.”
Sue Grey, Classroom Teacher

What is covered?

After showing you the similarities and differences of Scratch and Python, and how the skills learned using one can be applied to the other, we will look at turning more complex Scratch scripts into Python programs. Through creating a Mad Libs game and developing a username generator, you will see how programs can be simplified in a text-based language. We will give you our top tips for debugging Python code, and you’ll have the chance to share your ideas for introducing more complex programs to your students.

Scratch to Python FutureLearn Raspberry Pi

After that, we will look at different data types in Python and write a script to calculate how old you are in dog years. Finally, you’ll dive deeper into the possibilities of Python by installing and using external Python libraries to perform some amazing tasks.

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to:

  • Transfer programming and thinking skills from Scratch to Python
  • Use fundamental Python programming skills
  • Identify errors in your Python code based on error messages, and debug your scripts
  • Produce tools to support students’ transition from block-based to text-based programming
  • Understand the power of text-based programming and what you can create with it

Where can I sign up?

The free four-week course starts on 12 March 2018, and you can sign up now on FutureLearn. While you’re there, be sure to check out our other free courses, such as Prepare to Run a Code Club, Teaching Physical Computing with a Raspberry Pi and Python, and our second new course Build a Makerspace for Young People — more information on it will follow in tomorrow’s blog post.

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Four days of STEAM at Bett 2018

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If you’re an educator from the UK, chances are you’ve heard of Bett. For everyone else: Bett stands for British Education Technology Tradeshow. It’s the El Dorado of edtech, where every street is adorned with interactive whiteboards, VR headsets, and new technologies for the classroom. Every year since 2014, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has been going to the event hosted in the ExCeL London to chat to thousands of lovely educators about our free programmes and resources.

Raspberry Pi Bett 2018

On a mission

Our setup this year consisted of four pods (imagine tables on steroids) in the STEAM village, and the mission of our highly trained team of education agents was to establish a new world record for Highest number of teachers talked to in a four-day period. I’m only half-joking.

Bett 2018 Raspberry Pi

Educators with a mission

Meeting educators

The best thing about being at Bett is meeting the educators who use our free content and training materials. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the everyday tasks of the office without stopping to ask: “Hey, have we asked our users what they want recently?” Events like Bett help us to connect with our audience, creating some lovely moments for both sides. We had plenty of Hello World authors visit us, including Gary Stager, co-author of Invent to Learn, a must-read for any computing educator. More than 700 people signed up for a digital subscription, we had numerous lovely conversations about our content and about ideas for new articles, and we met many new authors expressing an interest in writing for us in the future.

BETT 2018 Hello World Raspberry Pi BETT 2018 Hello World Raspberry Pi BETT 2018 Hello World Raspberry Pi

We also talked to lots of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators who we’d trained in our free Picademy programme — new dates in Belfast and Dublin now! — and who are now doing exciting and innovative things in their local areas. For example, Chris Snowden came to tell us about the great digital making outreach work he has been doing with the Eureka! museum in Yorkshire.

Bett 2018 Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Chris Snowden

Digital making for kids

The other best thing about being at Bett is running workshops for young learners and seeing the delight on their faces when they accomplish something they believed to be impossible only five minutes ago. On the Saturday, we ran a massive Raspberry Jam/Code Club where over 250 children, parents, and curious onlookers got stuck into some of our computing activities. We were super happy to find out that we’d won the Bett Kids’ Choice Award for Best Hands-on Experience — a fantastic end to a busy four days. With Bett over for another year, our tired and happy ‘rebel alliance’ from across the Foundation still had the energy to pose for a group photo.

Bett 2018 Raspberry Pi

Celebrating our ‘Best Hands-on Experience’ award

More events

You can find out more about starting a Code Club here, and if you’re running a Jam, why not get involved with our global Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend celebrations in March?

Raspberry Pi Big Birthday Weekend 2018. GIF with confetti and bopping JAM balloons

We’ll be at quite a few events in 2018, including the Big Bang Fair in March — do come and say hi.

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