Tag Archives: Education

Inspiring educators with a special MagPi!

via Raspberry Pi

If there’s one thing we’re passionate about here at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, it’s sharing our community’s passion for making with technology. Back in January, the Education team exhibited at the Bett Show with a special Educator’s Edition of our fabulous magazine, The MagPi. The goal was to share our projects and programmes with educators who could join our increasing community of digital makers. Like all our publications, a downloadable PDF was made available on our website; this was good thinking, as the magazine proved to be very popular and we ran out of copies soon after the show.

Exhibiting a the Bett Show 2016

Exhibiting at the Bett Show 2016 with the special Educator’s Edition of The MagPi

This year, we’ve been working hard to improve the support we provide to our Raspberry Pi Certified Educators when they take their first steps post-Picademy, and begin to share their new skills with their students or faculty on their own. In the past, we’ve provided printable versions of our resources or handed out copies of The MagPi. Instead of providing these separately, we thought it would be fun to bundle them together for all to access.

Digital making educators getting hands on with their builds at Picademy

Educators getting hands-on with their builds at Picademy

Thanks to the support of our colleagues in the MagPi team, we’ve been able to bring you a new and improved special edition of The MagPi: it’s aimed at educators and is packed full of new content, including tutorials and guides, for use in schools and clubs. You can download a free PDF of the second issue of the special Educator’s Edition right now. If you want a printed copy, then you’ll need to seek us out at events or attend a Picademy in the UK and US whilst we have them in stock!

Warning: contains inspiration!

Warning: contains inspiration!

Contents include:

  • The digital making revolution in education: how the maker movement has been taking the classroom by storm!
  • A case study: creative computing at Eastwood Academy
  • How to start a Code Club in your school
  • Physical computing tutorials with Python and Scratch
  • Teaching computing with Minecraft
  • Blinky lights, cameras, micro:bits, and motor tutorials
  • Sonic Pi live coding
  • What’s next for Astro Pi?
  • News about Raspberry Pi in education

Blinky lights tutorial page from MagPi

Case study page from MagPi about Eastwood Academy

The MagPi Educator’s Edition is freely licensed under Creative Commons (BY-SA-NC 3.0).

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Scottish Learning Festival and Digital Garage

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A few weeks back, thousands of educators, local council staff, charities, and other educators flocked to the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow. The Raspberry Pi team were there to greet them, along with a stand groaning with sought-after swag bags and, of course, our very on-brand tops.

The Pi team at SLF

Sadly, they’re not available in shops…

Word of our credit card-sized computer has spread fast north of the border; I spoke to many primary and secondary teachers who had heard of us and were either curious to know more, or scared that they weren’t qualified enough to try one. Thanks to Dan’s wire loop game demo, though, they were soon getting hands-on with a Pi 3, and soon we had attendees queueing up to find out more. (We estimated we’d given away 100 swag bags on the first day, which is pretty good going…)

It was great to see so many educators being inspired by the possibilities the Pi affords – and amazed at how much a tiny computer can do. One teacher brought his son, who had bought a Pi which was sitting unloved in a drawer, and simply said ‘Inspire him’. We showed him our free online resources, and he got very excited at the idea of making music with Sonic Pi. Another satisfied customer!

Along with Lorna Gibson, Code Club Scotland coordinator, I also attended the launch of Google’s Digital Garage at the Mitchell Library, featuring speeches by Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, VP of Google EMEA Peter Barron, and four entrepreneurs who had attended Garages in the north of England, telling us their success stories about running everything from waffle vans to wedding blogs.

Keith provided some awe-inspiring figures; for every £1 invested in the Scottish digital economy, £3-£8 is returned. He said the Scottish Government was ‘committed to working with partners such as Google and Raspberry Pi to further develop digital talent in Scotland’. The Glasgow Garage will host its first Raspberry Jam on 8 October, and we can’t wait to hear what the participants produce.

Glasgow Digital Garage

Photo credit @GlasgowLibraries

When we returned to our Raspberry Pi stand, news had just reached us that there are now over 300 Code Clubs in Scotland. We like to think that some teachers set a couple up as soon as they heard about the power of Pi…

Picademy Glasgow information and a signup form can be found on our website here, with the first session running on the 14/15 October, and The Digital Garage runs from 21 September to 31 January 2017, before it goes on tour to other Scottish cities.

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A community-made, Arduino-powered interactive town map

via Arduino Blog


A group of students from Farmington, Connecticut partnered with artist Balam Soto and master teachers Earl Procko and Jim Corrigan to create a community-based sculpture project that allows people to explore the sights, sounds and history of their town through new media.

The installation runs on Arduino Uno and XBee, and is comprised of two panels which act as viewing screens for multiple visual projections. Visitors can interact with the display and manipulate the images using 24 buttons placed on the physical map. Plus, they are encouraged to record and add their own stories and memories of Farmington to the ever-growing multimedia library.


Permanently exhibited in Farmington’s public library, the Farmington Map Project was also the opportunity to introduce the students to physical computing, digital fabrication, woodworking, Arduino programming, and to the potential that Makerspaces have to offer for bringing ideas to life.

The project was created with the support of an Arts in Education Mini-Grant, funded by the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Connecticut Office of the Arts, and the Connecticut Association of Schools, Farmington High School’s Fine and Applied Arts.

Interested? Check it out on Hackster.

Picademy Expands in the United States

via Raspberry Pi

By all accounts, the pilot expansion of Picademy to the United States has been a huge success. In fact, we’ve already held three workshops and inducted 120 new Raspberry Pi Certified Educators on U.S. soil. So far we’ve had two workshops in Mountain View, CA and one in Baltimore, MD.


In December, we’ll wrap up our 2016 program with a workshop at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas in Austin. If you’re an educator and you’d like to join us for two days of mind-blowing professional development, please apply now.

And it gets even better. To build on the success of the pilot program, we are excited to announce that we will expand Picademy in the United States to over 300 educators and additional cities in 2017. In fact, we’re making this announcement as a commitment to President Obama to join the Computer Science For All initiative, a call to action to expand CS education in K-12 classrooms in the United States. And today, the White House hosts a summit to mark progress on the initiative:

The case for giving all students access to CS is straightforward. Nine in ten parents want CS taught at their child’s school and yet, by some estimates, only a quarter of K-12 schools offer a CS course with programming included. However, the need for such skills across industries continues to rapidly grow, with 51 percent of all science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs projected to be in CS-related field by 2018.

If you’re a professional educator, we want you to join us at a Picademy workshop. We haven’t yet selected the cities for 2017’s program, but please fill out this form to receive an update when we announce new cities and when applications open.

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Desktop Sense HAT emulator

via Raspberry Pi

If this post gives you a sense of déjà-vu it’s because, last month, we announced a web-based Sense HAT emulator in partnership with US-based startup Trinket.

Today, we’re announcing another Sense HAT emulator designed to run 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. In the picture below, the sliders are used to change the values reported by the sensors while your code is running.


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 will come pre-installed in the next Raspbian release but, for now, you can just install it by typing the commands below into a terminal window:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python-sense-emu python3-sense-emu python-sense-emu-doc sense-emu-tools -y

You can then access it from the Desktop menu, under Programming.

The emulator closely simulates the Sense HAT hardware being attached to your Pi. You can read from the sensors or write to the LED matrix using multiple Python processes, for example.


Write your code in IDLE as before; there are also a number of examples that can be opened from the emulator’s built-in menu. If you then want to port your code to a physical Sense HAT, you just need to change




at the top of your program. Reverse this if you’re porting a physical Sense HAT program to the emulator, perhaps from one of our educational resources; this step isn’t required in the web version of the emulator.


There are a number of preferences that you can adjust to change the behaviour of the emulator, most notably sensor simulation, otherwise known as jitter. This costs some CPU time, and is disabled by default on the low-end Raspberry Pis, but it provides a realistic experience of how the hardware sensors would behave. You’ll see that the values being returned in your code drift according to the known error tolerances of the physical sensors used on the Sense HAT.

This emulator will allow more Raspberry Pi users to participate in future Astro Pi competitions without having to buy a Sense HAT: ideal for the classroom where 15 Sense HATs may be beyond the budget.

So, where do you start? If you’re new to the Sense HAT, you can just copy and paste many of the code examples from our educational resources, like this one. You can also check out our e-book Sense HAT Essentials. For a complete list of all the functions you can use, have a look at the Sense HAT API reference here.

You can even install this emulator on other types of Linux desktop, such as Ubuntu! For more information on how to do this, please visit the emulator documentation pages here.

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Gran Check

via Raspberry Pi

New Zealander James Zingel recognised his mother’s concern over his grandmother’s well-being, and decided to do something about it.

Gran Check

For the Bay of Plenty Science Fair, the 14-year-old Bethlehem College student designed and built ‘Gran Check’, a Raspberry Pi-powered monitor that uses a PIR sensor to recognise his gran’s movement as she feeds her dogs, taking a photograph every morning to email back to his mother.

Gran Check

14-year-old James was concerned by the news of the elderly passing away unnoticed

James had researched similar builds on the market, noting their price was unrealistic for those with a lower budget. With the increase in average lifespans, plus upsetting reports of the elderly passing away unnoticed, he was determined to create something affordable and readily available to all, with little to no maintenance requirements.


Gran Check

A knob on the lid allows for the PIR sensitivity to be adjusted

The Gran Check lives within a wooden box, installed beside his grandmother’s dogs’ food. He knew it was the best location, since the dogs would never allow her to go a day without feeding them. For added peace of mind, James built the device to be self-sufficient, ensuring she’d never have to operate it herself.

James noted his grandmother’s independent nature, understanding that constant ‘check in’ calls from the family would be unrealistic. The Gran Check removes all concern for her welfare, without constantly bugging her for updates.

Gran Check

James credits the internet for much of his digital maker education

James was given a Raspberry Pi by his father, though he soon overtook the level of expertise on offer, and turned to YouTube and websites for help. 

James built the Gran Check over four weekends, and has ambitions to improve the build for others:

“I want to make it easy [to build], but also useful in loads of situations; it could also send a text message and attach a photo to it, for example. This would make sure that, for people in different situations, it’s not just one size fits all.”

It’s no surprise that James’s hard work was acknowledged. Not only did he win the award for best junior technology and best exhibit, but the 14-year-old also took home the NIWA Best in Fair Overall Winner.

To see James talking about Gran Check, and his plans for the build, visit the Bay of Plenty Times.

We look forward to seeing what’s next for James and Gran Check.

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