Tag Archives: schools

Creative computing at Eastwood Academy

via Raspberry Pi

It’s nearly two years since Computing became a subject for all children in England to study, and we’re now seeing some amazing work to bring opportunities for digital making into schools. Recently I visited Eastwood Academy in Southend-on-Sea, where teacher Lucas Abbot has created a digital making room, and built a community of young programmers and makers there.
Photo 14-06-2016, 12 51 38

Lucas trained as a physics teacher and got hold of a Raspberry Pi for projects at home back in 2012. His head teacher heard about his hobby, and when the move towards all children learning programming started, Lucas was approached to take up the challenge of developing the new subject of Computing in the school. With the help of friends at the local Raspberry Jam, Linux user group, and other programming meetups, he taught himself the new curriculum and set about creating an environment in which young people could take a similarly empowered approach.

In Year 7, students start by developing an understanding of what a computer is; it’s a journey that takes them down memory lane with their parents, discussing the retro technology of their own childhoods. Newly informed of what they’re working with, they then move on to programming with the Flowol language, moving to Scratch, Kodu and the BBC micro:bit. In Year 8 they get to move on to the Raspberry Pi, firing up the fifteen units Lucas has set up in collaborative workstations in the middle of the room. By the time the students choose their GCSE subjects at the end of Year 8, they have experienced programming a variety of HATs, hacking Minecraft to run games they have invented, and managing a Linux system themselves.
Photo 14-06-2016, 10 02 44

Fifteen Raspberry Pi computers have been set up in the centre of the room, at stations specifically designed to promote collaboration. While the traditional PCs around the edges of the room are still used, it was the Pi stations where pupils were most active, connecting things for their projects, and making together. A clever use of ceiling-mounted sockets, and some chains for health and safety reasons, has allowed these new stations to be set up at a low cost.

The teaching is based on building a firm foundation in each area studied, before giving students the chance to invent, build, and hack their own projects. I spent a whole day at the school; I found the environment to be entirely hands-on, and filled with engaged and excited young people learning through making. In one fabulous project two girls were setting up a paper rocket system, propelled using compressed air with a computer-based countdown system. Problem-solving and learning through failure are part of the environment too. One group spent a session trying to troubleshoot a HAT-mounted display that wasn’t quite behaving as they wanted it to.

Lessons were impressive, but even more so was the lunchtime making club which happens every single day. About 30 young people rushed into the room at lunchtime and got started with projects ranging from figuring out how to program a robot Mr Abbot had brought in, to creating the IKEA coffee table arcade machines from a recent MagPi tutorial.
Photo 14-06-2016, 13 04 41

I had a great conversation with one female student who told me how she had persuaded her father to buy a Raspberry Pi, and then taught him how to use it. Together, they got inspired to create a wood-engraving machine using a laser. Lunchtime clubs are often a place for socialising, but there was a real sense of purpose here too, of students coming together to achieve something for themselves.

Since 2014 most schools in England have had lessons in computing, but Eastwood Academy has also been building a community of young digital makers. They’re linking their ambitious lessons with their own interests and aspirations, building cool projects, learning lots, and having fun along the way. We’d love to hear from other schools that are taking such an ambitious approach to computing and digital making.

The post Creative computing at Eastwood Academy appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

HolaMundo – training for hearing-impaired young people

via Raspberry Pi

Once in a while you come across a project that you can’t help but share. One that exemplifies the way people across the globe are using Raspberry Pi to make a difference in ways we didn’t quite anticipate.

HolaMundo is one of those projects. They’re using Raspberry Pis for the training they describe (click CC for subtitles to the signed and spoken parts of the video).

HolaMundo() {Programacion para jóvenes sordomudos}

¿De qué trata el proyecto? Se trata de darles una opción a estos jóvenes con discapacidad auditiva y de escasos recursos. Brindar una base tecnológica a 12 jóvenes con discapacidad auditiva a través de un curso presencial de cómputo y programación dividido en 3 partes: Introducción a la computación y al Internet Diseño de sitios web con HTML5 y JS Introducción al sistema operativo y funcionamiento de Raspberry Pi ¿Cómo vamos a utilizar el dinero?

Alejandro Mercado and his team in Mexico City are currently crowdfunding to build a teaching programme for young people with a hearing disability. The programme aims to help educate them in computing and web design using Raspberry Pi, with the objective of increasing their educational and employment opportunities in the future.

A trainer teaches a class at HolaMundo, and a sign interpreter signs for him

A trainer teaches a class at HolaMundo, and a sign interpreter signs for him

For young people in Mexico City such as Jorge (the star of the campaign video), the prospects moving forward for those with a hearing impairment are slim. The programme aims to increase the opportunities available to him and his fellow students so that they can move on to higher education and find jobs that might not otherwise be accessible to them.

Jorge, a fifteen-year-old student taking part in the HolaMundo training, signs to the class

Jorge, a fifteen-year-old student taking part in the HolaMundo training, signs to the class

Their target of $70000 MXN (about £2620, or $3700 US) will support the team in teaching students to learn web design with HTML5 and JavaScript as well introducing them to operating systems and programming with Raspberry Pi. The money will be used to pay their sign interpreter, adapt learning materials for a more visual learning process, and, importantly, to give each student their own Raspberry Pi kit so that once they have finished this course they can continue learning.

Projects like this remind us of the capacity of our low-cost computer to provide educational opportunities in all kinds of settings. We’re thrilled to see determined educators worldwide using Raspberry Pi to give young people new opportunities and wider prospects.

If you’d like to donate or simply learn more about the project, visit HolaMundo’s donadora page.

The post HolaMundo – training for hearing-impaired young people appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Hands-On With The BBC Micro:Bit

via hardware – Hackaday

It’s been a long wait, but our latest single board computer for review is finally here! The BBC micro:bit, given free to every seventh-grade British child, has landed at Hackaday courtesy of a friend in the world of education. It’s been a year of false starts and delays for the project, but schools started receiving shipments just before the Easter holidays, pupils should begin lessons with them any time now, and you might even be able to buy one for yourself by the time this article goes to press.

The micro:bit top view
The micro:bit top view

It’s a rather odd proposition, to give an ARM based single board computer to coder-newbie children in the hope that they might learn something about how computers work, after all if you are used to other similar boards you might expect the learning curve involved to be rather steep. But the aim has been to position it as more of a toy than the kind of development board we might be used to, so it bears some investigation to see how much of a success that has been.

Opening the package, the micro:bit kit is rather minimalist. The board itself, a short USB lead, a battery box and a pair of AAA cells, an instruction leaflet, and the board itself.  Everything is child-sized, the micro:bit is a curved-corner PCB about 50mm by 40mm. The top of the board has a 5 by 5 square LED matrix and a pair of tactile switches, while the bottom has the surface-mount processor and other components, the micro-USB and power connectors, and a reset button. Along the bottom edge of the board is a multi-way card-edge connector for the I/O lines with an ENIG finish. On the card edge connector several contacts are brought out to wide pads for crocodile clips with through-plated holes to take 4mm banana plugs, these are the ground and 3V power lines, and 3 of the I/O lines.

The micro:bit bottom view
The micro:bit bottom view

It is obvious when compared to other single board computers that this one has been designed with the pocket of a 12-year-old in mind. It’s a robust 1.6mm thick board that is devoid of  pins and spiky connectors, and on which care has obviously been taken to ensure as low a profile as possible.

In hardware terms it has an ARM Cortex M0 processor from Nordic Semiconductor, a compass, accelerometer, Bluetooth Low Energy and USB as well as the previously mentioned switches, LEDs, and GPIOs.

To use the device, you have the choice of connecting it to your computer via USB, or to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth Low Energy. Sadly none of our devices support BLE so for this review we’ll be taking the former approach.

All programming is performed through a selection of web-based environments, with code editing and compilation performed online and the resulting binary file arriving as a download before being placed on the micro:bit by the user through the filesystem. Since the micro:bit is also an mbed under the hood we’d expect it to be programmable using the mbed toolchain, however that is beyond the scope of this review.

The development environments are all accessible through the micro:bit website, on which no login is required for writing code. On clicking the “Create code” button you are presented with a choice of four, Code Kingdoms JavaScript, Microsoft Block Editor, Microsoft Touch Develop, and Python. The micro:bit leaflet says you need a PC running Windows 7 or later or a Mac running OS X 10.6 or later, however we encountered no problems using Chromium on a Linux desktop. Each of the different environments has its own flavour and audience, so it’s worth considering them all in turn.

The Code Kingdoms Javascript editor
The Code Kingdoms Javascript editor

First up is Code Kingdoms Javascript. This is not what you might expect as a Javascript editor, instead it’s a drag-and drop visual coding environment which creates Javascript blocks. On the left are a series of menus containing the available code blocks, in the middle the coding area, on the right a software micro:bit emulator. At the bottom on the left are buttons to run your code in the emulator, save it with your other scripts, or compile and download it to be placed on the micro:bit.

In use, the Code Kingdoms editor is straightforward and intuitive, the code for a simple compass you can see in our screenshot was very quick to assemble as a first effort. Unfortunately though in our browser at least it was extremely slow, at times almost to the point of being unusable. In particular when you wish to remove a code block it starts up an animation of its waste bin opening up which slows the browser to a crawl. It is not a good sign when you load a web page and hear your processor fan spin up.

The Microsoft Block editor
The Microsoft Block editor

Following the Code Kingdoms editor is Microsoft’s Block Editor. This is a drag-and drop visual editor in the same vein as the Code Kingdoms editor, except that there is no pretence of building a more traditional coding language and it is a much faster and smoother experience. The interface is broadly similar in layout to the Code Kingdoms editor, except for the compile and run commands which are at the top, above the coding window.

In our screenshot you’ll see a very simple environmental monitor designed to display readings from the micro:bit’s various sensors. Yet again this was a simple and intuitive piece of software to assemble for someone using the environment for the first time.

Microsoft's Touch Develop editor
Microsoft’s Touch Develop editor

The third environment is another one from Microsoft, their Touch Develop editor. This is different from the other editors in that it is designed especially for use in touch environments on tablets and phones, so we tested it on an Android phone.

While the Touch Develop editor follows the same idea as the previous two of building code by selecting blocks from menus, it creates something a lot closer to text code, and requires the user to manually enter for example function parameters. We found its help system to be a little difficult on this front, it’s doubtless a useful editor if you know its intricacies but there is quite a learning curve for a first-time user.

The Touch Develop team have made as good a good job of putting a development environment onto a phone screen as they could and it is very usable, however due to the limited screen space it is still a little awkward and crowded. With luck this should be less of an issue for tablet owners.

It is worth pointing out that this editor can be stored as an offline bookmark allowing it to be used without an Internet connection, however it is not clear how any code written in this way might be compiled.

The micro:bit Python editor
The micro:bit Python editor

The final editor choice for the micro:bit is Python, in fact a micro:bit build of MicroPython. This editor lacks the software micro:bit emulator, but is much more like the kind of software environment that Hackaday readers will be used to. The main window is a straight text editor ready to type your Python into, and there is no menu of predefined code blocks. Instead there is a comprehensive introduction, tutorial, and documentation of the various micro:bit Python libraries, and once you are armed with those you can step right in and start writing code.

In use if you are happy with Python it is very straightforward. If your code generates any errors they are displayed scrolling across the micro:bit’s LED matrix which can be rather tedious, however at least the errors we generated were informative and led us straight to the points in our compass code which had gone wrong.

Looking at the libraries available in this editor it becomes clear that Python is the most powerful way to control your micro:bit. As well as the simple functions available in the other editors it offers libraries for I2C, SPI, UART, Neopixels and more. It’s immediately obvious that this is where the micro:bit’s “Wow!” hacks are most likely to be created.

The micro:bit with its battery pack
The micro:bit with its battery pack

Having looked at all the editors, our choices would be Python as the most powerful coding environment for experienced coders, and the Microsoft Block editor as the most useful drag-and-drop environment for beginners. The Code Kingdoms editor is nice but glacially slow, and the Touch Develop editor is a bit fiddly. It’s worth mentioning that all the editors have an option to save code locally, this produces an LZMA-compressed file with raw code in a JSON structure.

Of course, though some of us may benefit from it, this board is not made for Hackaday readers but for children. If it gets the recipe right, in a decade’s time it will be cited by a generation of new graduates as the machine that got them into software, but has it hit the mark? Since the children in question are only now receiving their first lessons it’s a bit early to tell, but the teacher lent us this micro:bit for the review tells us there are only two minor gripes. Not having an on-off switch they go through batteries at a phenomenal rate, and since their failed programs show no LEDs they think they’ve killed it when their software doesn’t work. The first it’s possible the kids will fix themselves by learning to unplug the packs, and perhaps the micro:bit people can fix the second with a software update. If these are the worst things that can be said about it though there can’t be too much wrong with it.

Filed under: computer hacks, Featured, hardware, Interest, Microcontrollers, slider

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.


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.




The post Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Stations shipped appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Skycademy – Balloons Everywhere!

via Raspberry Pi

It’s been a while since we blogged about Skycademy, the High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) CPD event we ran back in August. However, six weeks on, we have a lot to talk about!

Skycademy CPD – August

We started back in February with the idea that we’d like to train 24 educators to launch a HAB flight with their students. We wanted to engage and inspire those that attended and through them reach young people across the UK and set them the challenge of reaching near space.

Here’s a short (and, we think, appropriately dramatic) video to give you a flavour of the three days.

Private Video on Vimeo

Join the web’s most supportive community of creators and get high-quality tools for hosting, sharing, and streaming videos in gorgeous HD with no ads.

During their time with us our educators received some intensive training from both Dave Akerman and myself, and in teams were provided with all the kit they’d need for their flight. The plan was for each of our four teams to launch and recover a flight the following day.

Leading up to the day we were a little nervous. With strong easterly winds, there was a high risk of us losing payloads – if we were even able to get them off the ground!

James Robinson on Twitter

Come on nearly there, bit more west would be great! #skycademy pic.twitter.com/yUwmRAb4DU

However, thanks to an slight easing of the weather conditions and us finding a more westerly launch site, we were thankfully able to launch five flights in quick succession, starting with a demo launch by Dave and me. We packed our flight with a GoPro camera to capture some amazing footage.

Richard Hayler ☀ on Twitter

First balloon away! #skycademy pic.twitter.com/LbmrhjUhMV

David Akerman M0RPI on Twitter

Quick take-off from the #skycademy launch pads pic.twitter.com/2SMNJYH0Q9

Almost as soon as we’d released our balloon, the teams quickly got to work readying their flights. We (like the balloons) were blown away by the confidence on the teams; the first two teams were ready so quickly that we launched them simultaneously.

Andy Batey on Twitter

Simultaneous balloon launch #skycademy pic.twitter.com/ibcTWUvxAe

Something we were a little nervous about doing again….

Teams then leapt into their cars and sped away to intercept their payload at their predicted landing site. Back at HQ we watched with equal amounts of excitement and anxiety as our first-time HAB trainees gave chase!

We received a whole host of amazing images from our flights as they rose to 33km


Giving our starting point of being concerned about whether launches would be possible, we were over the moon to launch all five payloads and recover…four.

Our penultimate payload, RPF-A2, was sadly under-filled with helium, which, whilst giving it a nice gentle climb to an impressive 32km, also extended its flight path out to sea. We’re hoping that one day it might be washed up on a beach and returned to us.

Helen Lynn on Twitter

Nnnoooooooooo #skycademy pic.twitter.com/tXzN6v5bjD

Steven Jenkinson on Twitter

RIP #TeamAlto #skycademy Lost at sea :( Raiding a toast… pic.twitter.com/SZBXRBM07F

Our final day saw our teams tasked with evaluating their first launch and planning their next. Over the course of the next year we will be support and funding each teacher to carry out their own independent launch with young people back in their schools and clubs.

We were so impressed by their presentations, with ideas for student engagement, plans for testing, kite flights, collaborative launches and more.

David Akerman M0RPI on Twitter

Watching #skycademy presentations pic.twitter.com/UuyIhNFmnn

We are incredibly proud to have certified our first Skycademy cohort, and are excited to see what they accomplish over the next year.

jonathanfurness on Twitter

I’ve passed #Skycademy !! Special thanks to @daveake @jrobinson_uk & all at @Raspberry_Pi for a brilliant HAB course. pic.twitter.com/b3KxbH95UI

If you want to find out more about our Skycademy CPD event, then you should check out the following:

  • Visit Twitter and look back over our #skycademy hashtag
  • Richard Hayler has written up a blog post about his experience
  • Nic Hughes has also written about Skycademy in his blog
  • You can hear all about it in a piece that the BBC’s The Naked Scientists recorded about the changing nature of science education.

Pycon UK Launches

A few weeks after our Skycademy event, the Raspberry Pi Education Team attended Pycon UK in Coventry, where we met up with lots of our Certified Educators and several of our Skycademy graduates. We’ve previously blogged about our Pycon activities, but it’s worth talking a little more about the flights we launched there.

On the kids’ day, a group of our Skycademy cohort launched an independent flight from the nearby National Space Centre (which is awesome, btw). They carried out their launch like seasoned pros, and chased down their balloon, recovering it a few hours later.

11_00_59 IMG_0014 Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 12.33.42 Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 22.27.20 IMG_2052 12_14_53

The following day, Marc and I launched the first Sense-HAT on a HAB flight, again from the National Space Centre.

BensRpi on Twitter

Good to see #PyConUk PyCon1 Balloon is up and away. @andybateypi Track it here http://tracker.habhub.org/#!mt=roadmap&mz=9&qm=1_day&mc=52.51372,-0.58792&f=PYCON1 … #skycademy pic.twitter.com/m25WsuiGe7

We had a couple of technical issues on the morning, which meant we struggled to receive data once our flight had taken off. However, the fantastic UKHAS community were on hand as usual to help out and ensure our balloon wasn’t lost. Our flight reached a whopping 36km; along with recorded data using all the Sense-HAT sensor resulting in 200,000 lines of data, which I’m yet to analyse.

Thankfully our payload landed 20m from a little single track road, from where we were able to spot it – having narrowly avoided a parachuting centre and some wind turbines.

James Robinson on Twitter

Done! #pyconuk #skycademy #pycon1 #ukhas pic.twitter.com/e4V2OE5sI5

School Launches

Since PyconUK we’re had our first two school launches both in the East Anglia area and on consecutive days. I’ll leave it to them to tell you more about their experience.

Bourne Grammar School – 9th October

1_a_williams 2_CS_Team 3_looking at the Wash from 26km

On the 9th October, a group of budding computer scientists and systems and control engineers from Bourne Grammar School launched a helium balloon and payload 26km into the air in order to capture incredible images of the earth using a self-programmed Raspberry Pi hardware.

Systems Engineer Team Leader, Iyanu Abioye, told us, “It was our job was to create the housing for the payload which had the camera, the GPS and it would also have the parachute and balloon. The housing for the payload was a polystyrene box with a smaller one as a lid, to keep everything safe. On launch day, Sohayl Tobaria, Marco Lytle and Wojciech Marek held the balloon whilst it was being filled, added the cable ties and cut the balloon from the helium tank.

The computer science team, consisting of Andrew Ellingford, Jacob Wilson, Fabio Valerio and Josiah Gyamfi, had the job of programming two Raspberry Pi computers so that data could be sent and received from space. Andrew explains, “If this job had not have been done right, we would have lost all of our photos, data and the balloon itself. That would have been a rather expensive mistake, so, the pressure was on. At first the task seemed a bit daunting. None of us had much experience with some of the equipment like the LoRa board”, which enabled us to send and receive our data from space. However, working as a team and with the help of Mr Brown (Bourne Grammar School Assistant Headteacher and Digital Strategy & Director ICT), we found solutions to all our technological problems. Not only did we learn a lot about computing, we learnt how to use these skills as a team. In the end, it was great to watch the pictures come through online and track its position in real-time and we are proud to have contributed to this project.”

Students Alex Williams, Ben Rockliffe, Alex Wray and Luc Schoutsen were assigned as part of the chase team. It was their job to track the flight of the balloon using the GPS and radio technology on board. The chase team were then able to receive this data to learn the location, altitude, speed and temperature of the payload.

Back at school the flight analyst team, Holly Brown and Toby Pawlett were able to see the data from the balloon and see an extrapolated flight-plan which predicted where the balloon would eventually land. By calling the chase team on a regular basis, they were able to guide them to the final landing site of the balloon to help ensure a successful recovery.

Talking about the experienced, Holly told us, “We had to make sure the balloon would not land in the sea by making flight-path predictions in the weeks running up to the launch, which included where it would pop and were it would land.  In the days leading up to the launch window, we had to double-check everything to ensure the flight went well and that the weather would be suitable too, without too much wind.

The project seems to have inspired the students. Holly Brown said, “We both thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and hope to participate in any future space missions that are run at school.” The computer science team added, “We are proud to have contributed to this project”. Systems Engineer, Iyanu Abioye told us, “I feel very privileged to have been able to be a part of this and I want to say a huge thanks to Mr Brown and Mr Scott (Head of Curriculum Development for The Raspberry Pi Foundation) for putting this together for us.”

Glebe House School – 10 October

ascent-a ascent-b Google_earth_main (1)

Bill Robinson from the Glebe House School in Hunstanton has written an excellent post on their website which you can read here; it’s full of beautiful images and data that they gathered.

The year ahead

In the next ten months, expect to see a further 20+ launches taking place across the UK, led by educators and their students. If you want to get involved with our Skycademy activities there are several ways you can do so:

  • Follow our launches by checking our #skycademy hashtag and looking out for news about flights. During flights you can track using the habhub tracker
  • Help track our flights. If you’re in (or near) the UK you ought to be able to help receive data from payloads during and help keep tabs on them. To do this you’ll need some kit to build a what’s called “lora gateway”
    • A Raspberry Pi & SD card
    • A Lora Board
    • A suitable aerial
  • All of the above can be found at the HAB Supplies website, and a guide to setting up you’re gateway can be found here.
  • One of the challenges of launching a HAB flight is finding a suitable location which isn’t too near major airports, has some open space, has easy access and permission from the owner. If you think you might have a suitable site from which to launch, please get in touch.

Finally, getting Skycademy off the ground has been hard work, but a fantastic experience, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to all those individuals and organisations who’ve had a hand in getting us where we are.

Screenshot from 2015-10-12 14:53:45






The post Skycademy – Balloons Everywhere! appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi in Estonia project launch

via Raspberry Pi

If you follow us on Twitter, you may have seen some pictures of me standing next to important looking people in suits, handing out Raspberry Pi kits on Tuesday. This was the launch event for an educational project we’ve been working on with the British Embassy in Tallinn over the last few months.


Back in February of this year, just after the Raspberry Pi 2 launch, we were invited to mentor at the Garage48 Hardware & Arts Hackathon at the University of Tartu in Estonia. Rachel and I attended, and were amazed by the projects the teams were coming up with – some of which used Raspberry Pi. We were there to offer technical advice as well as help prepare teams for their pitch presentations. The event was a serious competition with teams thinking about creating businesses off the back of the projects, rather than throwaway apps you might expect from regular hackathons.

Somewhat casually, it was announced that the Prime Minister would be attending the presentations and awards ceremony. At age 35, Taavi Rõivas is the youngest government leader in the European Union. It wasn’t just a fleeting visit – he stuck around all day and took notes throughout the presentations. We were introduced to him and he knew of Raspberry Pi (he has one but hasn’t got around to using it yet). He said that he’d visited the Pi factory in Pencoed and I took the opportunity to have my photo taken with him.

IMG_0516resized IMG_0379resized IMG_0466resized

The winning team was from the Estonian Army, who used a Pi to provide feedback during target practice. Read about this project and the runners up at estonianworld.com.

After the hackathon we had meetings with some Education organisations and the British Embassy and we ended up kicking off a project to get Raspberry Pis into schools across Estonia. We offered to fund half of the kits, and Transferwise kindly provided match funding to cover the rest.

We were also involved in HITSA‘s Informatics Teachers Summer School which took place in August – as well as providing match funding for 60 Pi 2s and the excellent CamJam Sensor Kits, I gave a webinar to introduce the Pi and the Foundation’s mission to the teachers. We also granted two Estonian teachers a place on Picademy North in May.

IMG_1309.resized IMG_1310.resized IMG_1235

We were then invited to an event marking the opening of the hubs, which took place earlier this week, and the Embassy had arranged for the British Ambassador and the Prime Minister to attend.

The day started with me giving seminars to two groups of children from the school (a very large school combining what we’d call Primary and Secondary); then after lunch we set up the room which soon filled with more children, teachers and the press. Transferwise handed out t-shirts they had made for the occasion and the room was coated in Raspberry Pi flyers and balloons. There was even Raspberry Pie on offer!

11057765_907423259293728_2717962521991304749_n 10421537_907422535960467_7128809717088771448_n IMG_0565.resized

The Prime Minister arrived and the event began with the Ambassador Chris giving a speech saying how proud he was to be involved in the project; followed by the Prime Minister saying a few words, thanking the Foundation and Transferwise. Then I spoke of the Foundation’s original goal to create a computer the price of a textbook to make it accessible to all, and of the great opportunities created for children all over Estonia. The three of us then joined up with Transferwise to hand out the kits to a representative of each of the 20 schools.

10997810_907422462627141_2458695791996283715_n 11885179_907422539293800_3587682315784029483_n 12003034_907422632627124_2543760640295704789_n


The Picademy trained teachers also presented. Birgy Lorenz showed what the Raspberry Pi could do, including a demo of Sonic Pi from the kids accompanied by Birgy on a real piano; and Maria Malozjomov explained the possibilities of using the Raspberry Pi with young children, and showed a video of her children unboxing and setting up:

There was then some time for demonstrations of the Raspberry Pis we’d set up – ones for Scratch, Minecraft, Sonic Pi, Python & Picamera and one with the Sense HAT. The Prime Minister managed to get himself a seat at the Minecraft table and was seen playing with it between speeches:


Even Prime Ministers like to play Minecraft: Pi Edition

I also happened to have an Astro Pi Flight kit running a copy of the actual flight SD card with the Astro Pi competition code with me:


The Astro Pi flight kit running the MCP

The launch event ended with a mega Picamera selfie! I set up a push button stop motion loop in Python and triggered it to take a few photos with the crowd behind me:


The mega selfie moment captured

The British Ambassador Chris Holtby said:

Today has been a very exciting day, and an important day for technology in Estonian schools.  We have now equipped 20 schools and other centres all across Estonia with Raspberry Pi kits, and further schools and centres will become Raspberry Pi hubs in the next phases. Many young (and not so young) people in Estonia want to learn to program, but often the equipment and know-how is not available. This programme is aimed to help fix those gaps.

Today’s launch of the RaspberryPiEstonia programme was only possible through the hard work and commitment of great partners in the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Transferwise and Vaata Maailma Sihtasutus, and the dedication and inspiration of Information Technology teachers and professionals across Estonia. I am grateful to them all, and proud to have been able to work with them.

I am also very honoured that Prime Minister Taavi Roivas was able to join us today, and to be the one handing over the equipment.  It is important to have the support of the Government in giving this project maximum impact and making it sustainable.

Chris Holtby

After the event I gave a seminar to the Tallinn Informatics Teachers Group to follow on from the webinar at the Summer School.

See this storify of all the day’s tweets; check out the British Embassy’s photo album on Facebook; and you can watch the full video of the event on YouTube.

A great big thanks to the Krislin and the team at the British Embassy in Tallinn, the Ambassador Chris Holtby, lead teachers Birgy Lorenz and Maria Malozjomov, Mari-Liis at HITSA, all the team at Transferwise, and of course Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.

The post Raspberry Pi in Estonia project launch appeared first on Raspberry Pi.