Tag Archives: Education

Processing: making art with code

via Raspberry Pi

This column is from The MagPi issue 56. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

One way we achieve our mission at the Raspberry Pi Foundation is to find an intersection between someone’s passion and computing. For example, if you’re a young person interested in space, our Astro Pi programme is all about getting your code running on the International Space Station. If you like music, you can use Sonic Pi to compose songs with code. This month, I’d like to introduce you to some interesting work happening at the intersection between computing and the visual arts.

Image of Dead Presidents by Mike Brondbjerg art made with Processing

Mike Brondbjerg’s Dead Presidents uses Processing to generate portraits.

Processing is a programming language and development environment that sits perfectly at that intersection. It enables you to use code to generate still graphics, animations, or interactive applications such as games. It’s based on the Java programming language, and it runs on multiple platforms and operating systems. Thanks to the work of the Processing Foundation, and in particular the efforts of contributor Gottfried Haider, Processing runs like a champ on the Raspberry Pi.

Screenshot of Processing environment

When I want to communicate how cool Processing is while speaking to members of the Raspberry Pi community, I usually make this analogy: with Sonic Pi, you can use one line of code to make one note; with Processing, you can use one line of code to draw one stroke. Once you’ve figured that out, you can use computational tools such as loops, conditions, and variables to make some beautiful art.

And even though Processing is intended for use in the realm of visual arts, its capabilities can go beyond that. You can make applications that interact with the user through keyboard or mouse input. Processing also has libraries for working with network connections, files, and cameras. This means that you don’t just have to create artwork with Processing. You can also use it for almost anything you need to code.

Physical process

Processing is especially cool on the Raspberry Pi because there’s a library for working with the Pi’s GPIO pins. You can therefore have on-screen graphics interacting with buttons, switches, LEDs, relays, and sensors wired up to your Pi. With Processing, you could build a game that uses a custom controller that you’ve built yourself. Or you could create a piece of artwork that interacts with the user by sensing their proximity to it.

Processing screenshot

Best of all, Processing was created with learning to code in mind. It comes with lots of built-in examples, and you can use these to learn about many different programming and drawing concepts. The documentation on Processing’s website is very thorough and – as with Raspberry Pi – there’s a very supportive community around it if you run into any trouble. Additionally, the Processing development environment is powerful but also very simplified. For these reasons, it’s perfect for someone who is just getting started.

To get going with Processing on Raspberry Pi, there’s a one-line install command. You can also go to Processing.org and download pre-built Raspbian images with Processing already installed. To help you on your journey, there’s a resource for getting started with Processing. It includes a walkthrough on how to access the GPIO pins to combine physical computing and visual arts.

When you launch Processing, you will see a blank file where you can start keying in your code. Don’t let that intimidate you! All of the world’s greatest pieces of art started off as a raw slab of marble, a blob of clay, or a blank canvas. It just takes one line of code at a time to generate your own masterpiece.

Become a supporter

After this article appeared in The MagPi, the Processing Foundation put out a call for support:

We want you to be a part of this. Our work is almost entirely supported by individual one-time donations from the community. Right now we are outspending what we earn, and we have bigger plans! We want to continue all the work we’re doing and make it more accessible, more inclusive, and more responsive to the community needs.

To create lasting support for these new directions we’re starting a Membership Program. A membership is an annual donation that supports all this work and signifies your belief in it. You can do this as an individual, a studio, an educational institution, or a corporate partner. We will list your name on our members page along with all the others that help make this mission possible.

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Sense HAT Emulator Upgrade

via Raspberry Pi

Last year, we partnered with Trinket to develop a web-based emulator for the Sense HAT, the multipurpose add-on board for the Raspberry Pi. Today, we are proud to announce an exciting new upgrade to the emulator. We hope this will make it even easier for you to design amazing experiments with the Sense HAT!

What’s new?

The original release of the emulator didn’t fully support all of the Sense HAT features. Specifically, the movement sensors were not emulated. Thanks to funding from the UK Space Agency, we are delighted to announce that a new round of development has just been completed. From today, the movement sensors are fully supported. The emulator also comes with a shiny new 3D interface, Astro Pi skin mode, and Pygame event handling. Click the ▶︎ button below to see what’s new!

Upgraded sensors

On a physical Sense HAT, real sensors react to changes in environmental conditions like fluctuations in temperature or humidity. The emulator has sliders which are designed to simulate this. However, emulating the movement sensor is a bit more complicated. The upgrade introduces a 3D slider, which is essentially a model of the Sense HAT that you can move with your mouse. Moving the model affects the readings provided by the accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer sensors.

Code written in this emulator is directly portable to a physical Raspberry Pi and Sense HAT without modification. This means you can now develop and test programs using the movement sensors from any internet-connected computer, anywhere in the world.

Astro Pi mode

Astro Pi is our series of competitions offering students the chance to have their code run in space! The code is run on two space-hardened Raspberry Pi units, with attached Sense HATs, on the International Space Station.

Image of Astro Pi unit Sense HAT emulator upgrade

Astro Pi skin mode

There are a number of practical things that can catch you out when you are porting your Sense HAT code to an Astro Pi unit, though, such as the orientation of the screen and joystick. Just as having a 3D-printed Astro Pi case enables you to discover and overcome these, so does the Astro Pi skin mode in this emulator. In the bottom right-hand panel, there is an Astro Pi button which enables the mode: click it again to go back to the Sense HAT.

The joystick and push buttons are operated by pressing your keyboard keys: use the cursor keys and Enter for the joystick, and U, D, L, R, A, and B for the buttons.

Sense Hat resources for Code Clubs

Image of gallery of Code Club Sense HAT projects Sense HAT emulator upgrade

Click the image to visit the Code Club projects page

We also have a new range of Code Club resources which are based on the emulator. Of these, three use the environmental sensors and two use the movement sensors. The resources are an ideal way for any Code Club to get into physical computing.

The technology

The 3D models in the emulator are represented entirely with HTML and CSS. “This project pushed the Trinket team, and the 3D web, to its limit,” says Elliott Hauser, CEO of Trinket. “Our first step was to test whether pure 3D HTML/CSS was feasible, using Julian Garnier’s Tridiv.”

Sense HAT 3D image mockup Sense HAT emulator upgrade

The Trinket team’s preliminary 3D model of the Sense HAT

“We added JavaScript rotation logic and the proof of concept worked!” Elliot continues. “Countless iterations, SVG textures, and pixel-pushing tweaks later, the finished emulator is far more than the sum of its parts.”

Sense HAT emulator 3d image final version Sense HAT emulator upgrade

The finished Sense HAT model: doesn’t it look amazing?

Check out this blog post from Trinket for more on the technology and mathematics behind the models.

One of the compromises we’ve had to make is browser support. Unfortunately, browsers like Firefox and Microsoft Edge don’t fully support this technology yet. Instead, we recommend that you use Chrome, Safari, or Opera to access the emulator.

Where do I start?

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

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European Astro Pi Challenge winners

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In October last year, with the European Space Agency and CNES, we launched the first ever European Astro Pi challenge. We asked students from all across Europe to write code for the flight of French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Proxima mission. Today, we are very excited to announce the winners! First of all, though, we have a very special message from Thomas Pesquet himself, which comes all the way from space…

Thomas Pesquet congratulates Astro Pi participants from space

French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet floats in to thank all participants in the European Astro Pi challenge. In October last year, together with the European Space Agency, we launched the first ever European Astro Pi challenge for the flight of French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of mission Proxima.

Thomas also recorded a video in French: you can click here to see it and to enjoy some more of his excellent microgravity acrobatics.

A bit of background

This year’s competition expands on our previous work with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, in which, together with the UK Space Agency and ESA, we invited UK students to design software experiments to run on board the ISS.

Astro Pi Vis (AKA Ed) on board the ISS. Image from ESA.

In 2015, we built two space-hardened Raspberry Pi units, or Astro Pis, to act as the platform on which to run the students’ code. Affectionately nicknamed Ed and Izzy, the units were launched into space on an Atlas V rocket, arriving at the ISS a few days before Tim Peake. He had a great time running all of the programs, and the data collected was transmitted back to Earth so that the winners could analyse their results and share them with the public.

The European challenge provides the opportunity to design code to be run in space to school students from every ESA member country. To support the participants, we worked with ESA and CPC to design, manufacture, and distribute several hundred free Astro Pi activity kits to the teams who registered. Further support for teachers was provided in the form of three live webinars, a demonstration video, and numerous free educational resources.

Image of Astro Pi kit box

The Astro Pi activity kit used by participants in the European challenge.

The challenge

Thomas Pesquet assigned two missions to the teams:

  • A primary mission, for which teams needed to write code to detect when the crew are working in the Columbus module near the Astro Pi units.
  • A secondary mission, for which teams needed to come up with their own scientific investigation and write the code to execute it.

The deadline for code submissions was 28 February 2017, with the judging taking place the following week. We can now reveal which schools will have the privilege of having their code uploaded to the ISS and run in space.

The proud winners!

Everyone produced great work and the judges found it really tough to narrow the entries down. In addition to the winning submissions, there were a number of teams who had put a great deal of work into their projects, and whose entries have been awarded ‘Highly Commended’ status. These teams will also have their code run on the ISS.

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who participated. Massive congratulations are due to the winners! We will upload your code digitally using the space-to-ground link over the next few weeks. Your code will be executed, and any files created will be downloaded from space and returned to you via email for analysis.

In no particular order, the winners are:

France

  • Winners
    • @stroteam, Institut de Genech, Hauts-de-France
    • Wierzbinski, École à la maison, Occitanie
    • Les Marsilyens, École J. M. Marsily, PACA
    • MauriacSpaceCoders, Lycée François Mauriac, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
    • Ici-bas, École de Saint-André d’Embrun, PACA
    • Les Astrollinaires, Lycée général et technologique Guillaume Apollinaire, PACA
  • Highly Commended
    • ALTAÏR, Lycée Albert Claveille, Nouvelle Aquitaine
    • GalaXess Reloaded, Lycée Saint-Cricq, Nouvelle Aquitaine
    • Les CM de Neffiès, École Louis Authie, Occitanie
    • Équipe Sciences, Collège Léonce Bourliaguet, Nouvelle Aquitaine
    • Maurois ICN, Lycée André Maurois, Normandie
    • Space Project SP4, Lycée Saint-Paul IV, Île de la Réunion
    • 4eme2 Gymnase Jean Sturm, Gymnase Jean Sturm, Grand Est
    • Astro Pascal dans les étoiles, École Pascal, Île-de-France
    • les-4mis, EREA Alexandre Vialatte, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
    • Space Cavenne Oddity, École Cavenne, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
    • Luanda for Space, Lycée Français de Luanda, Angola
      (Note: this is a French international school and the team members have French nationality/citizenship)
    • François Detrille, Lycée Langevin-Wallon, Île-de-France

Greece

  • Winners
    • Delta, TALOS ed-UTH-robotix, Magnesia
    • Weightless Mass, Intercultural Junior High School of Evosmos, Macedonia
    • 49th Astro Pi Teamwork, 49th Elementary School of Patras, Achaia
    • Astro Travellers, 12th Primary School of Petroupolis, Attiki
    • GKGF-1, Gymnasium of Kanithos, Sterea Ellada
  • Highly Commended
    • AstroShot, Lixouri High School, Kefalonia
    • Salamina Rockets Pi, 1st Senior High School of Salamina, Attiki
    • The four Astro-fans, 6th Gymnasio of Veria, Macedonia
    • Samians, 2nd Gymnasio Samou, North Eastern Aegean

United Kingdom

  • Winners
    • Madeley Ad Astra, Madeley Academy, Shropshire
    • Team Dexterity, Dyffryn Taf School, Carmarthenshire
    • The Kepler Kids, St Nicolas C of E Junior School, Berkshire
    • Catterline Pi Bugs, Catterline Primary, Aberdeenshire
    • smileyPi, Westminster School, London
  • Highly Commended
    • South London Raspberry Jam, South London Raspberry Jam, London

Italy

  • Winners
    • Garibaldini, Istituto Comprensivo Rapisardi-Garibaldi, Sicilia
    • Buzz, IIS Verona-Trento, Sicilia
    • Water warmers, Liceo Scientifico Galileo Galilei, Abruzzo
    • Juvara/Einaudi Siracusa, IIS L. Einaudi, Sicilia
    • AstroTeam, IIS Arimondi-Eula, Piemonte

Poland

  • Winners
    • Birnam, Zespół Szkoły i Gimnazjum im. W. Orkana w Niedźwiedziu, Malopolska
    • TechnoZONE, Zespół Szkół nr 2 im. Eugeniusza Kwiatkowskiego, Podkarpacie
    • DeltaV, Gimnazjum nr 49, Województwo śląskie
    • The Safety Crew, MZS Gimnazjum nr 1, Województwo śląskie
    • Warriors, Zespół Szkół Miejskich nr 3 w Jaśle, Podkarpackie
  • Highly Commended
    • The Young Cuiavian Astronomers, Gimnazjum im. Stefana Kardynała Wyszyńskiego w Piotrkowie Kujawskim, Kujawsko-pomorskie
    • AstroLeszczynPi, I Liceum Ogolnokształcace w Jasle im. Krola Stanislawa Leszczynskiego, Podkarpackie

Portugal

  • Winners
    • Sampaionautas, Escola Secundária de Sampaio, Setúbal
    • Labutes Pi, Escola Secundária D. João II, Setúbal
    • AgroSpace Makers, EB 2/3 D. Afonso Henriques, Cávado
    • Zero Gravity, EB 2/3 D. Afonso Henriques, Cávado
    • Lua, Agrupamento de Escolas José Belchior Viegas, Algarve

Romania

  • Winners
    • AstroVianu, Tudor Vianu National High School of Computer Science, Bucharest
    • MiBus Researchers, Mihai Busuioc High School, Iași
    • Cosmos Dreams, Nicolae Balcescu High School, Cluj
    • Carmen Sylva Astro Pi, Liceul Teoretic Carmen Sylva Eforie, Constanța
    • Stargazers, Tudor Vianu National High School of Computer Science, Bucharest

Spain

  • Winners
    • Papaya, IES Sopela, Vizcaya
    • Salesianos-Ubeda, Salesianos Santo Domingo Savio, Andalusia
    • Valdespartans, IES Valdespartera, Aragón
    • Ins Terrassa, Institut Terrassa, Cataluña

Ireland

  • Winner
    • Moonty1, Mayfield Community School, Cork

Germany

  • Winner
    • BSC Behringersdorf Space Center, Labenwolf-Gymnasium, Bayern

Norway

  • Winner
    • Skedsmo Kodeklubb, Kjeller Skole, Akershus

Hungary

  • Winner
    • UltimaSpace, Mihaly Tancsics Grammar School of Kaposvár, Somogy

Belgium

  • Winner
    • Lambda Voyager, Stedelijke Humaniora Dilsen, Limburg

FAQ

Why aren’t all 22 ESA member states listed?

  • Because some countries did not have teams participating in the challenge.

Why do some countries have fewer than five teams?

  • Either because those countries had fewer than five teams qualifying for space flight, or because they had fewer than five teams participating in the challenge.

How will I get my results back from space?

  • After your code has run on the ISS, we will download any files you created and they will be emailed to your teacher.

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Join the Arduino workshop in Berlin, March 9th-12th

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Arduino Workshop in Berlin

Join us for a weekend of special events at the Arduino Store Berlin! Activities will kick off on Thursday, March 9th with teacher training. On Friday, March 10th and Saturday, March 11th, the Arduino team featuring Tenaya Hurst will present some of the latest products, like the Primo and the Otto; in the afternoon, the focus will shift towards the Arduino Uno WiFi and the Arduino Libretto Kit.

Everyone (ages 8 and up) is welcome to attend the workshops. Teachers, in particular, will have the opportunity to learn how to present and replicate projects with their students, as well as meet and greet each other during a social brunch on Sunday morning. The Arduino Store is also looking to collaborate with more educators, so don’t forget to bring your CV!

Registration is now open. The cost of each workshop, which includes an Arduino kit, is €59 +VAT and will be processed at the Berlin store. Please remember your laptop and power cord, and to download the Arduino IDE before attending! Have questions? Do not hesitate to contact events@arduino.org!

Arduino Workshop in Berlin

Arduino WORK/SHOP

Venue: Arduino Store, Danziger Str. 22, 10435 Berlin, Germany

Thursday, March 9th 
17:00-17:45: Meet, greet and network
18:00-20:00: Teacher training workshop
20:00-20:30: Followup Q&A for teachers interested in collaborating with Arduino Berlin Store

Friday, March 10th
12:30-13:45: New Arduino products introduction (Primo, Otto and more)
14:00-15:45: Workshop 1 – Getting started with Arduino Uno WiFi 
16:00-17:45: Workshop 2 – Getting started with Arduino Uno Libretto Kit
18:00-19:45: Workshop 3 – Getting started with Arduino Uno Libretto Kit

Saturday, March 11th 
9:30-10:45: New Arduino products introduction (Primo, Otto and more)
11:00-12:45: Workshop 4 – Getting started with Arduino Uno WiFi
13:00-14:45 Workshop 5 – Getting started with Arduino Uno Libretto Kit
15:00-16:45: Workshop 6 – Getting started with Arduino Primo 
17:00-18:45: Workshop 7 – Getting started with Arduino Uno Libretto Kit

Sunday, March 12th
10:00-12:00: Teacher brunch

1000 Raspberry Pi Certified Educators

via Raspberry Pi

This week, we trained our 1000th Raspberry Pi Certified Educator at a Picademy in Cardiff, south Wales. These teachers, librarians and other educators are now equipped to begin sharing the power of digital making with their learners, their local communities and their peers.

An animated gif: a group of new Raspberry Pi Certified Educators celebrate by pulling party poppers

Our newest Raspberry Pi Certified Educators: now there are 1000 of them!

Picademy is a free CPD programme that gives educators the skills and knowledge to help learners get creative with computing. Classroom teachers, museum educators, librarians, educator coaches, and community educators can all apply. You don’t need any previous experience, just an enthusiasm for teaching computing and digital making.

Apply for Picademy

We’ve just announced the dates and venues for Picademy in the US throughout 2017. Take a look at the schedule of UK Picademy events for this year: we’ve just added some new dates. Check out what educators say about Picademy.

Are you interested? DO IT. APPLY.

Demand for Picademy places is always high, and there are many parts of the world where we don’t yet offer Picademy. In order to reach more people, we provide two free online training courses which are available anywhere in the world. They’re especially relevant to educators, but anyone can take part. Both started this week, but there’s still time to join. Both courses will run again in the future.

Hello World

Wherever you are, you can also read Hello World, our new magazine about computing and digital making written by educators, for educators. It’s free online as a downloadable PDF, and it’s available to UK-based educators in print, free of charge. In its pages over the next issues, we know we’ll see some of our first 1000 Raspberry Pi Certified Educators inspire some of our second 1000.

We hope that you, too, will join this creative, supportive community!

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Bringing Digital Making to the Bett Show 2017

via Raspberry Pi

The Cambridge office must have been very quiet last week, as staff from across the Raspberry Pi Foundation exhibited at the Bett Show 2017. Avid readers will note that at the UK’s largest educational technology event, held in London across four days, we tend to go all out. This year was no exception, as we had lots to share with you!

Hello World

It was hugely exciting to help launch Hello World, our latest joint publication with Computing At School (CAS), part of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, and sponsored by BT. I joined our CEO Philip Colligan, contributing editor Miles Berry, and Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Ian Simpson on stage in the Bett arena to share our thoughts on computing curriculums around the world, and the importance of sharing good teaching.

In our area of the STEAM village, where we had four pods and a workshop space, the team handed copies out in their thousands to eager educators interested in digital making, computing, and computer science. If you weren’t able to get your hands on a copy, don’t worry; you can download a free digital PDF and educators can subscribe to get this year’s three issues delivered, completely free of charge, to their door.

Sharing the Code Club love

Thanks to the support of some enthusiastic young people and our Code Club regional coordinators, we ran our first ever Code Club at Bett on Saturday.

codeclublondon on Twitter

Massive thanks to @TheChallenge_UK @CodeClub volunteers for helping @Raspberry_Pi out at #Bett2017 today :)

There was a great turnout of educators and their children, who all took part in a programming activity, learning just what makes Code Club so special. With activities like this, you can see why there are 5,000 clubs in the UK and 4,000 in the rest of the world!

Code Club South East on Twitter

Here’s @ben_nuttall enjoying our @CodeClub keepy uppy game… https://t.co/bmUAvyjndT

Free stuff

Let’s be honest: exhibitions and conferences are all about the free swag. (I walked away with a hoodie, polo shirt, and three highlighter pens.) We think we had the best offering: free magazines and classroom posters!

Code Club UK on Twitter

It’s our the final day of #Bett2017! Pop over to STEAM village to see the Code Club team & get your hands on our coveted posters! #PiAtBett

We love interacting with people and we’re passionate about making things, so we helped attendees make their very own LED badge that they could keep. It was so popular that after it has had a few tweaks, we’ll will make it available for you to download and use in class, after-school clubs, and Raspberry Jams!

 

The ‘All Seeing Pi‘ kept an eye on attendees passing by that we may have missed, using comedy moustaches to lure them in. We’ve enjoyed checking out its Twitter account to see the results.

Speaking from the heart

The STEAM village was crammed with people enjoying all our activities, but that’s not all; we even found time to support our educator community to give talks about their classroom practice on stage. One of the highlights was seeing three of our Certified Educators, along with their class robots, sharing their journey and experience on a panel chaired by Robot Wars judge and our good friend, Dr Lucy Rogers.

These ARE the droids you’re looking for! Bill Harvey, Neil Rickus, Nic Hughes, Dr Lucy Rogers, and their robots.

Once we started talking about our work, we found it difficult to stop. The team gave talks about Pioneers, our new programme for 12- to 15-year-olds, our digital making curriculum, and Astro Pi.

Bett on Twitter

Well done @Raspberry_Pi for such a good turn out yesterday! Keep up the good work at your stand in STEAM Village.

A royal visit

We were excited to be visited by a very special attendee, our patron the Duke of York, who spent time meeting the team, learned more about our programmes, and discussed teacher training with me.

Team Awesome

Thanks to everyone who visited, supported, and got involved with us. We ran 43 workshops and talks on our stand, handed out 2,000 free copies of Hello World and 400 Code Club posters, caught 100 comedy faces with the All-Seeing Pi, gave 5 presentations on Bett stages, took 5,000 pictures on our balloon cam, and ran 1 Code Club and 1 Raspberry Jam, across 4 days at the Bett show.

Bett lapse

Time Lapse from the Bett Show, London (2017)

 

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