Tag Archives: Education

Astro Pi upgrades launch today!

via Raspberry Pi

Before our beloved SpaceDave left the Raspberry Pi Foundation to join the ranks of the European Space Agency (ESA) — and no, we’re still not jealous *ahem* — he kindly drafted us one final blog post about the Astro Pi upgrades heading to the International Space Station today! So here it is. Enjoy!

We are very excited to announce that Astro Pi upgrades are on their way to the International Space Station! Back in September, we blogged about a small payload being launched to the International Space Station to upgrade the capabilities of our Astro Pi units.

Astro Pi Raspberry Pi International Space Station

Sneak peek

For the longest time, the payload was scheduled to be launched on SpaceX CRS 14 in February. However, the launch was delayed to April and so impacted the flight operations we have planned for running Mission Space Lab student experiments.

To avoid this, ESA had the payload transferred to Russian Soyuz MS-08 (54S), which is launching today to carry crew members Oleg Artemyev, Andrew Feustel, and Ricky Arnold to the ISS.

Ricky Arnold on Twitter

L-47 hours.

You can watch coverage of the launch on NASA TV from 4.30pm GMT this afternoon, with the launch scheduled for 5.44pm GMT. Check the NASA TV schedule for updates.

The upgrades

The pictures below show the flight hardware in its final configuration before loading onto the launch vehicle.

Wireless dongle in bag — Astro Pi upgrades

All access

With the wireless dongle, the Astro Pi units can be deployed in ISS locations other than the Columbus module, where they don’t have access to an Ethernet switch.

We are also sending some flexible optical filters. These are made from the same material as the blue square which is shipped with the Raspberry Pi NoIR Camera Module.

Optical filters in bag — Astro Pi upgrades


So that future Astro Pi code will need to command fewer windows to download earth observation imagery to the ground, we’re also including some 32GB micro SD cards to replace the current 8GB cards.

Micro SD cards in bag — Astro Pi upgrades

More space in space

Tthe items above are enclosed in a large 8″ ziplock bag that has been designated the “AstroPi Kit”.

bag of Astro Pi upgrades

It’s ziplock bags all the way down up

Once the Soyuz docks with the ISS, this payload is one of the first which will be unpacked, so that the Astro Pi units can be upgraded and deployed ready to run your experiments!

More Astro Pi

Stay tuned for our next update in April, when student code is set to be run on the Astro Pi units as part of our Mission Space Lab programme. And to find out more about Astro Pi, head to the programme website.

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Desafío STEM 2017/18 in Spain

via Arduino Blog

Telefónica Educación Digital, the education branch of Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica, arranged a contest for students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for the second year. While the 2016/17 edition of the contest was launched only in Spain, 2017/18’s took place in Latin America as well. Just a week ago, the jury came to the final result for the current Spanish edition.

In the first edition, we in Arduino Education created an educational kit and content to assist a team of mentors that would in turn work with teachers all across Spain in helping them building projects within the limits of the contest. In the 2017/18 edition, we collaborated on a series of webinars for teachers hosted last fall. In both editions, I have acted as one of the jury members. The level of projects is pretty high in average. Considering that many of the participants come from secondary schools, it is quite impressive to see how they embrace the latest technological developments like IoT or VR and make meaningful projects out of those.

The winners of the Spanish version of the contest are invited to a trip to CERN to visit the place where things happen in science: the particle accelerator. Over 1,500 innovations were presented by seven-member teams within the categories established by TED: IoT, Industry 4.0, e-health, digital education, cybersecurity, and other technological projects. From those 1,500, the jury had to work really hard to come up with the final results. If you are among the non-chosen ones, you should know that the gap between the top 50-or-so projects was incredibly tight.

The following list highlights the four teams that were awarded by the jury. I have translated the information about the teams, but the videos from the students are only in Spanish. I hope you will find them as thrilling as I do!

Project 1

  • Title: AGROTECH
  • Topic: Livestock automation system
  • Level: Advance (junior high and vocational education)
  • Theme: Industry 4.0
  • School: Instituto de Educación Secundaria LOS OLMOS
  • City: Albacete
  • Description: AGROTECH implements a prototype to automate the systems to manage livestock. Using Arduino and a series of sensors, it is possible to monitor and refill the livestock’s food and water, control the light and ventilation of the stables, report alarms like fire or intrusions and eliminate leftovers. All information is captured in real-time and displayed on a website.

Project 2

  • Title: Virtual Detective (Detective Virtual)
  • Topic: Virtual reality spaces
  • Level: High (upper secondary)
  • Theme: Digital education
  • School: Colegio María Virgen
  • City: Madrid
  • Description: Virtual Detective is a virtual, guided tour to the school. The students have hidden a series of challenges along the way that are related to different school subjects. The virtual space is a gamified version of the class that helps the kids learn in an alternative way.

Project 3

  • Title: Recycling Is for Everyone (REPT, Reciclar Es Para Todos)
  • Topic: Other technological projects
  • Level: Junior (lower secondary)
  • Theme: Digital education
  • School: Colegio Santo Domingo
  • City: Santa Cruz de Tenerife
  • Description: REPT is a trash bin prototype that can classify the leftovers and will run a lottery among those recycling once the bin has been sent to the recycling station.

Project 4

  • Title: ALPHAPSI
  • Topic: VR platform for the diagnosis and treatment of students with special educational needs
  • Level: Advance
  • Theme: Digital education
  • School: Colegio Calasancio Hispalense
  • City: Sevilla
  • Description: ALPHAPSI consists of an application made in Processing that connects to a VR head-mounted display capable of detecting the wearer’s head movements. Thanks to a series of tests consisting of tracking an object moving in the VR space, the system can follow the movements and will help generating a diagnosis and treating students with attention disorders.

The Desafío STEM project is an initiative of Telefonica Educacion Digital and their project STEMbyme

Our 2017 Annual Review

via Raspberry Pi

Each year we take stock at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, looking back at what we’ve achieved over the previous twelve months. We’ve just published our Annual Review for 2017, reflecting on the progress we’ve made as a foundation and a community towards putting the power of digital making in the hands of people all over the world.

In the review, you can find out about all the different education programmes we run. Moreover, you can hear from people who have taken part, learned through making, and discovered they can do things with technology that they never thought they could.

Growing our reach

Our reach grew hugely in 2017, and the numbers tell this story.

By the end of 2017, we’d sold over 17 million Raspberry Pi computers, bringing tools for learning programming and physical computing to people all over the world.

Vibrant learning and making communities

Code Club grew by 2964 clubs in 2017, to over 10000 clubs across the world reaching over 150000 9- to 13-year-olds.

“The best moment is seeing a child discover something for the first time. It is amazing.”
– Code Club volunteer

In 2017 CoderDojo became part of the Raspberry Pi family. Over the year, it grew by 41% to 1556 active Dojos, involving nearly 40000 7- to 17-year-olds in creating with code and collaborating to learn about technology.

Raspberry Jams continued to grow, with 18700 people attending events organised by our amazing community members.

Supporting teaching and learning

We reached 208 projects in our online resources in 2017, and 8.5 million people visited these to get making.

“I like coding because it’s like a whole other language that you have to learn, and it creates something very interesting in the end.”
– Betty, Year 10 student

2017 was also the year we began offering online training courses. 19000 people joined us to learn about programming, physical computing, and running a Code Club.

Over 6800 young people entered Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab, 2017’s two Astro Pi challenges. They created code that ran on board the International Space Station or will run soon.

More than 600 educators joined our face-to-face Picademy training last year. Our community of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators grew to 1500, all leading digital making across schools, libraries, and other settings where young people learn.

Being social

Well over a million people follow us on social media, and in 2017 we’ve seen big increases in our YouTube and Instagram followings. We have been creating much more video content to share what we do with audiences on these and other social networks.

The future

It’s been a big year, as we continue to reach even more people. This wouldn’t be possible without the amazing work of volunteers and community members who do so much to create opportunities for others to get involved. Behind each of these numbers is a person discovering digital making for the first time, learning new skills, or succeeding with a project that makes a difference to something they care about.

You can read our 2017 Annual Review in full over on our About Us page.

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CTC 101: Giro d’Italia + CTC Faire in Barcelona

via Arduino Blog

The last couple of weeks have kept the Arduino Education team extremely busy. While some of us were presenting CTC 101 to teachers all across Italy, others were in Barcelona for the CTC 101 Faire with more than 4,000 upper secondary students showcasing the projects they created as a result of the CTC 101 2017-18 academic year.

The one thing that really amazes us at Arduino EDU is how the CTC program has scaled since its inception five years ago. Back then, we prototyped our first full-year academic program and conducted a test with 25 schools. Our first faire garnered 400 participants, about 10% the size of one of our latest events. The earliest edition of CTC ran on Arduino Uno, consisted of 20 projects, was made in black and white, and included a mascot that we commissioned to the well-known Mexican artist “Grand Chamaco.” From that experiment on, almost 18,000 students have gone through the program. CTC has been implemented by 800 schools, mainly in Spain, Sweden, Ecuador, and Mexico, while more than 1,600 teachers have had the opportunity to learn under the guidance of the Arduino EDU team both on and offline.

In 2018, CTC 101 will expand to several countries including Italy, where my partner and Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi together with Valentina Chinnici (Arduino EDU Product Marketing) led the EDU team through a custom-made “Giro d’Italia” visiting Turin, Bologna, Roma, Bari, and Naples to hold special events and workshops to Italian high school teachers, together with CampuStore, one of our Italian partners.

In the words of Massimo, “The Arduino Education tour was created to confirm and strengthen Arduino’s efforts and attention towards Italian school. The hundreds of teachers who signed in to all the dates are a great encouragement for Arduino to continue the path towards research, innovation, and dissemination of the values of open source.”

Not only did Massimo present CTC 101 to 400 teachers in person, he also hosted a webinar for over 900 educators. In case you missed it, we have posted the webinar video to the Arduino YouTube channel. (Please note that it is in Italian.)

While Massimo was touring Italy, I travelled to Barcelona with Nerea Iriepa, CTC’s project manager, to participate in the 2018’s edition of the CTC Catalunya Faire at the renowned CosmoCaixa science museum.

The EduCaixa Foundation has been sponsoring this project for the last four years in the regions of Catalunya, Andalucía, and Valencia, with a great degree of satisfaction from both teachers and students alike. In particular, a total of 200 schools in Catalunya (one-third of all of the public schools in the region) have been sponsored by EduCaixa, providing access to the program that has helped teachers enter the world of STEAM via Arduino Education.

This year’s faire brought together nearly 500 projects from 100 schools. It is worth mentioning how much effort all of the participants put in building their projects. It has been a tremendous journey for students and teachers that kicked off in September 2017 and culminated at this exhibition.

We are truly grateful for CESIRE (big hugs to Rossana and Jordi for their work), the regional ministry of education, as well as Ultralab, our local partner, in organizing this faire.

Transition from Scratch to Python with FutureLearn

via Raspberry Pi

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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Astro Pi celebrates anniversary of ISS Columbus module

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Right now, 400km above the Earth aboard the International Space Station, are two very special Raspberry Pi computers. They were launched into space on 6 December 2015 and are, most assuredly, the farthest-travelled Raspberry Pi computers in existence. Each year they run experiments that school students create in the European Astro Pi Challenge.

Raspberry Astro Pi units on the International Space Station

Left: Astro Pi Vis (Ed); right: Astro Pi IR (Izzy). Image credit: ESA.

The European Columbus module

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the European Columbus module. The Columbus module is the European Space Agency’s largest single contribution to the ISS, and it supports research in many scientific disciplines, from astrobiology and solar science to metallurgy and psychology. More than 225 experiments have been carried out inside it during the past decade. It’s also home to our Astro Pi computers.

Here’s a video from 7 February 2008, when Space Shuttle Atlantis went skywards carrying the Columbus module in its cargo bay.

STS-122 Launch NASA TV Coverage

From February 7th, 2008 NASA-TV Coverage of The 121st Space Shuttle Launch Launched At:2:45:30 P.M E.T – Coverage begins exactly one hour till launch STS-122 Crew:

Today, coincidentally, is also the deadline for the European Astro Pi Challenge: Mission Space Lab. Participating teams have until midnight tonight to submit their experiments.

Anniversary celebrations

At 16:30 GMT today there will be a live event on NASA TV for the Columbus module anniversary with NASA flight engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei.

Our Astro Pi computers will be joining in the celebrations by displaying a digital birthday candle that the crew can blow out. It works by detecting an increase in humidity when someone blows on it. The video below demonstrates the concept.

AstroPi candle

Uploaded by Effi Edmonton on 2018-01-17.

Do try this at home

The exact Astro Pi code that will run on the ISS today is available for you to download and run on your own Raspberry Pi and Sense HAT. You’ll notice that the program includes code to make it stop automatically when the date changes to 8 February. This is just to save time for the ground control team.

If you have a Raspberry Pi and a Sense HAT, you can use the terminal commands below to download and run the code yourself:

wget http://rpf.io/colbday -O birthday.py
chmod +x birthday.py

When you see a blank blue screen with the brightness increasing, the Sense HAT is measuring the baseline humidity. It does this every 15 minutes so it can recalibrate to take account of natural changes in background humidity. A humidity increase of 2% is needed to blow out the candle, so if the background humidity changes by more than 2% in 15 minutes, it’s possible to get a false positive. Press Ctrl + C to quit.

Please tweet pictures of your candles to @astro_pi – we might share yours! And if we’re lucky, we might catch a glimpse of the candle on the ISS during the NASA TV event at 16:30 GMT today.

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