Tag Archives: Education

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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Massimo Banzi’s guest judge at America’s greatest makers

via Arduino Blog

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Massimo Banzi is among the judges on “America’s Greatest Makers” a reality competition from Mark Burnett (the reality-TV king behind “Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” and “The Voice”) in partnership with Intel which debuted last week on TBS.

In a first of its kind competition, the tv show takes 24 teams of makers from across US and puts them in head-to-head challenges to invent disruptive projects and win $1 million. The team are composed by unique people from 15 years old to 59 with ideas going to inspire a whole new audience of potential makers.

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In the first two episodes, each team pitched their device idea to the judging panel composed by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich; business and financial expert Carol Roth; comedian, serial entrepreneur and co-host of truTV’s Hack My Life Kevin Pereira; and one of the celebrity guests.

At the end of April during 4th episode guest judge Massimo Banzi joins the panel as the remaining makers compete in the “Make or Break” rounds for $100,000 and a spot in the million dollar finale. If you are not in the USA, watch the episode at this link after April 27th.

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In the meanwhile you can also watch a beginner maker project to learn how to do obstacle avoidance using Arduino 101. Cara Santa Maria is the trainer who’s going to guide you into the tutorial about this really important topic for projects involving moving objects like robots and drones:

Arduino101Tut-Intel

 

Follow the show on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and use hashtag #AmericasGreatestMakers

 

Astro Pi: Coding Challenges Results!

via Raspberry Pi

Astro_Pi_Logo_WEB-300px

Back in early February we announced a new opportunity for young programmers to send their code up the International Space Station to be used by British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake.

Two challenges were on offer. The first required you to write Python Sense HAT code to turn Ed and Izzy (the Astro Pi computers) into an MP3 player, so that Tim can plug in his headphones and listen to music. The second required you to code Sonic Pi music for Tim to listen to via the MP3 player.

The competition closed on March 31st and the judging took place at Pi Towers in Cambridge last week. With the assistance of Flat Tim!

The judges were selected from companies who have contributed to the Astro Pi mission so far. These were;

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Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark (Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys)

We also wanted to have some judges to provide musical talent to balance the science and technology expertise from the aerospace people. Thanks to Carl Walker at ESA we were able to connect with synthpop giants OMD (Enola Gay, Electricity, Maid of Orleans) and British/French film composer Ilan Eshkeri (Stardust, Layer Cake, Shaun the Sheep).

ilanEshkeri_composing_Stardust

Ilan Eshkeri working on the Stardust soundtrack

We also secured Sam Aaron, the author of Sonic Pi and Overtone, a live coder who regularly performs in clubs across the UK.

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Sam Aaron at TEDx Newcastle

Entries were received from all over the UK and were judged across four age categories; 11 and under, 11 to 13, 14 to 16 and 17 to 18. So the outcome is that four MP3 players and four songs will be going up to the ISS for Tim to use. Note that the Sonic Pi tunes will be converted to MP3 so that the MP3 player programs can load and play the audio to Tim.

The judging took two days to complete: one full day for the MP3 players and one day for the Sonic Pi tunes. So without further ado, let’s see who the winners are!

MP3 Player Winners

11 and under

11 to 13

14 to 16

  • Winner: Joe Speers
  • School: n/a (Independent entry)
  • Teacher/Adult: Craig Speers
  • Code on Github

17 to 18

Sonic Pi Winners

11 and under

11 to 13

  • Winner: Isaac Ingram
  • School: Knox Academy
  • Teacher/Adult: Karl Ingram

14 to 16

17 to 18

Congratulations to you all. The judges had a lot of fun with your entries and they will very soon be uploaded to the International Space Station for Tim Peake. The Astro Pi Twitter account will post a tweet to indicate when Tim is listening to the music.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation would like to thank all the judges who contributed to this competition, and especially our special judges: Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys from OMD, Ilan Eshkeri and Sam Aaron.

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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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Success for Code Clubs in South Wales libraries

via Raspberry Pi

It’s four o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, and, in an old Victorian library in a small town in South Wales, big things are happening. The computer room is crammed with children, all intently focused and engaged. Working independently or in pairs, they are building games and animations in Scratch. This is the Penarth Library Code Club, and, as you may have guessed, it’s a roaring success. The club is very popular: every workstation has at least one occupant, and library staff have even offered their own laptops so that more children can join in. Some late arrivals have to be turned away, as the room simply won’t hold any more people. It’s vibrant, educational, and a long way from the stereotypes of dusty books and severe, shushing librarians.

Code club Dinas

I help a young coder get to grips with the Raspberry Pi. Photo credit: Paul Templing

When you think of coding, it’s probably a fair bet that public libraries are not the first things to spring to mind. Indeed, most Code Clubs are run in schools, but libraries are also an important venue offering young coders the chance to learn new skills outside of the classroom. While public libraries have no formal or official obligation to support the National Curriculum in schools, many have taken it upon themselves to engage with and support the new focus on computing and programming at both primary and secondary level. It’s particularly telling that this drive to engage with programming has come from a sector which is conventionally seen as reluctant to embrace or adapt to emerging technologies. It’s also interesting that library-based Code Clubs are significantly more common in Wales. Code Club notes that 3.6% of active clubs across the UK are in libraries; in Wales, however, the figure stands at 6.2%. There is, of course, a very strong element of local pride at work here, especially since the merger of Code Club and Raspberry Pi. Almost all Pis sold worldwide are made in the Sony factory in Pencoed, just 20 miles away from Penarth: significant numbers of jobs have been created, and there is genuinely an enormous amount of admiration in the area for the the tiny computer. It’s not surprising that locals both young and old are keen to get to grips with coding in general, and coding on the Pi in particular.

Coding robots

Photo credit: Paul Templing

The librarians of the Vale of Glamorgan are one group who have particularly embraced technology, coding, and digital making, and key to this enthusiasm are Phil Gauci, a Library Support Officer, and James Emery, who works in digital development. In addition to Penarth, there are three other full-time libraries in the Vale, together with five part-time ones run by volunteers. Phil and James have been energetically mobilising colleagues across the area to encourage local children to get coding. Their efforts have been so successful that they are now planning to move on to introducing the children to physical computing: inspired by Technoclubs hosted by the libraries of Neath Port Talbot and funded by Carnegie UK, they planned to run robotics workshops using Lego Mindstorms and Scratch. However, the relatively high cost of the hardware renders it inappropriate for public libraries, especially given the serious reductions in funding faced by most services.

Pi in a library

Photo credit: Paul Templing

Fortunately, an alternative solution was available in the form of the Raspberry Pi. Phil and James started using Pis in Penarth Library in 2014; they have now tripled the number of units in operation, and are working on introducing them across the Vale. In order to meet the high levels of demand from prospective club members, they are beginning to run additional sessions at weekends, as well as putting on special events: this half term, 40 children gathered in Penarth, Dinas Powys, Cowbridge, and Barry libraries to make model robots with flashing LED antennae, writing the code in both Scratch and Python on Raspberry Pis. The sessions proved very popular, and plans are afoot to run further sessions exploring Sonic Pi and Minecraft, among other things.

Library Robots

Photo credit: Paul Templing

How do Phil and James see libraries as fitting into the overall mission of Code Clubs and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, then? James explains:

Our clubs are more dynamic than traditional code clubs because we welcome seasoned coders alongside those who are just starting out. The kids who turn up will often come from different schools and it’s really exciting to see how they share and interact with others’ projects. We’re hoping to keep improving our own skills and understanding so that we can take Code Club to the next level and run workshops all across the Vale, creating some new partnerships along the way. It’s all about promoting the library service to a new audience, who may not be aware of how much we’ve changed and what we now offer.

Libraries have for some time had a role to play in encouraging information literacy among adult users. Now they are extending this to the next generation of aspiring programmers, and their efforts really seem to be paying off.

We currently have a vacancy for Code Club’s Regional Coordinator covering Wales, and we’re also recruiting Regional Coordinators for Yorkshire & North East and for the South West. The deadline for applications is 9am on Monday 21 March: go to Code Club’s jobs page to find out more.

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Welcoming 40 US Teachers to our Community

via Raspberry Pi

In the summer of 2015, President Obama made call to action to create a Nation of Makers within the United States. We made a commitment in response to that call: we would train 100 teachers in digital making with Raspberry Pi in 2016. Last weekend, we made a giant leap towards fulfilling that commitment with our first Picademy within the United States. In fact, it was the first ever Picademy held beyond the borders of Britain.

The first Picademy USA Cohort! © Douglas Fairbairn Photography / Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

The first Picademy USA Cohort! © Douglas Fairbairn Photography / Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

We invited 40 educators to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA to learn Raspberry Pi, Python, Scratch, the Sense HAT, the Camera Module, working with motors, buttons, switches, LEDs, and our philosophy around digital making for education. This cohort traveled from all over the United States to become the first set of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators that have been trained on US soil. They included classroom teachers, librarians, and community educators.

Philip Colligan on Twitter

Success! @juliegoo2 lights up an led at @Raspberry_Pi #picademy pic.twitter.com/ZjvT5M65UI

Nicholas Provenzano's reaction to digital making. (Thanks, Sam Patterson!)

Nicholas Provenzano’s reaction to digital making. (Thanks, Sam Patterson!)

On the second day, the cohort broke into groups and began their own journey into digital making. They collaborated to create robots, tweeting objects, connected sensors, camera traps, communication systems, and more. Throughout the experience, Babbage the bear was a very good sport about lending a paw.

Scott Raedeke on Twitter

Ready, set, #hackathon ! Excited to get going on my project! @Raspberry_Pi #picademy pic.twitter.com/jxZ5W9euVZ

The resulting projects were incredible. Towards the end of the second day, we all had the opportunity to see what everyone had made. Take a look for yourself in this playback from Carrie Anne’s Periscope stream.

To conclude the experience, we officially pronounced them Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, inducting them into a community of digital making educators that is passionate, creative, and collaborative. We know this is just the start for them, and we’re looking forward to seeing what how these educators continue their journey in digital making with students.

David Saunders on Twitter

@RafranzDavis getting her @Raspberry_Pi Certified Educator certificate at #picademy pic.twitter.com/A6fWXh5sQC

This was the largest Picademy ever and the first one held outside the United Kingdom. We could not have done it without a lot of support. All of us at the Raspberry Pi Foundation would to thank: Dexter Industries, Adafruit Industries, Sparkfun Electronics, and Low Voltage Labs for equipping the teachers with products and discounts. David Saunders, a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator who joined us to help participants and speak about his school’s “Labrary.” Sonia Uppal and Mark Pavlyukovskyy for speaking about their amazing work with Raspberry Pi.

Most of all, we’d like to send a huge thank you to everyone at the Computer History Museum, especially Kate McGregor, Stephanie Corrigan, and Lauren Silver. CHM was the perfect venue for a Picademy in the Bay Area since much of the history of computing took place right nearby. It was amazing to give this cohort such a rich historical context for their work with Raspberry Pi computers.

Stephanie Corrigan and Kate McGregor of the Computer History Museum are among the newest group of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators. © Douglas Fairbairn Photography / Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

Stephanie Corrigan and Kate McGregor of the Computer History Museum are among the newest group of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators. © Douglas Fairbairn Photography / Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

Here’s what some of the newest Raspberry Pi Certified Educators have published about Picademy:

If you’re interested in becoming a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator, apply to join our next Picademy in the US, which will be held again at the Computer History Museum on April 30th and May 1st. The workshop is open to professional educators and is free to attend. Accepted applicants are responsible for the travel and accommodation. If the next workshop won’t work for you, sign up for email updates about possible future Picademy workshops in the USA.

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