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I start this blog post whilst sat on the train from Cambridge to Birmingham New Street having just spent two fantastic days at the Raspberry Pi offices in Cambridge attending Picademy.

The last two days have been really inspirational and I feel really fortunate to have spent them with a really great bunch of people, some teachers, some from the Raspberry Pi education team and other just very willing helpers who came to support.

The free CPD is open to all teachers who want to know more about / get more use out of the Raspberry Pi in the classroom and beyond. Picademy is not just for IT teachers (after all I am a Chemistry teacher in my day job). Both days were really well organised and delivered and gave everyone an opportunity to learn new skills and use them in a practical context. I was also very fortunate to be able to help my team (team GPIO) as the lead learner on the table.

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After the usual welcomes and introductions the first day was spent carrying out a number of practical hands-on workshops. We were each given a goodie bag on arrival which included:

  • Raspberry Pi model B+
  • The latest version of the NOOBS SD card
  • Rainbow Pi case
  • Noodle USB power-cable
  • A Raspberry Pi mug (I’ve wanted one of these for a while!!)
  • A copy of my teaching resource (10 Engaging Python Projects)

The workshops on the first day included:

  • An introduction into physical computing (connecting LEDs and switches to the GPIO)
  • An introduction into Minecraft API programming
  • Using the Pibrella (one of my favourite pieces of equipment)
  • Using the Raspberry Pi camera
  • An introduction to Sonic Pi (I love this piece of software)
  • Using the Raspberry Pi in the classroom - solutions for networking etc.

There were ample amounts of tea / coffee / cake and nice food for lunch.

At the end of the first day we had an opportunity to think about the project we would like to carry out the next day. With Halloween only a few days away there were lots of ideas of a very spooky nature! It was really great to work with people who really did not feel constrained about what they could do and achieve with the Pi.

The day ended with a really nice meal in a local restaurant. There was some really good discussions and sharing of ideas and experiences as we ate. The meal continued with drinks in a local bar (but I went home to bed!)

The second day started with a number of talks about the Raspberry Pi community and how people can get more involved after Picademy. I had an opportunity to share my experiences with attending Raspberry Jams and the forthcoming Birmingham Jam (22nd November). We were treated to an excellent follow-up talk about Sonic Pi and I am more convinced that this is something I want to make use of in my clubs.

The remainder of the day was spent working in small teams on our own projects. My group created a motion detector trick or treat bucket. I spent some time developing my skills with the Raspberry Pi camera, although I did’t quite get it to work the way I wanted it to,

A really good part of the second day was to get support from the engineers and technical people from the Foundation and the other helpers. I had been told the day before that Ben Nuttall was an expert with GitHub so I had a 20 minute personal tutorial! This was a really invaluable time and I was able to really get some good advice and modelling of how to use it effectively,

Following (a very funny!) show and tell session we were presented with our certificates and badges. I am very proud to be a certified Raspberry Pi Educator.

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Year 5 and Minecraft

I had the pleasure today of delivering two Raspberry Pi Minecraft based workshops to students attending school as part of a Primary Engagement Day.

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Many of the students were really big Minecraft fans so I was off to a great start. After the usual quick build challenge we moved into the first of our activities. None of the students had used Python before but very quickly realised that you have to type the code in exactly as it is on the sheet. The first task was completed quickly and students were displaying messages in Minecraft.

The second task (making Steve fly) was really enjoyed by the students and many were keen to see what happens if they send him off in different directions! It was really good to see how quickly the students picked up the tasks and were at one point showing the older prefects from school how to do things.

A very common theme I have noticed when talking to colleagues about the new Computing Curriculum is the need for students to starting coding at an early age and how daunting this is. Activities like today reinforce for me that students are really keen to do programming and want to push themselves to extend their knowledge and skills.

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PiHut Raspberry Pi clearance sale

Are you looking for a Raspberry Pi bargain?

The guys over at The PiHut are having a Raspberry Pi clearance sale. Some really good prices including such bargains as:

Babbage Bear for only £4
Noobs Preinstalled SD card £4.80
Ada fruit PiTFT screen for only £24
Raspberry Pi T-Shirts for both adults and kids £6 / £5

Check out their great clearance prices here

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Birmingham Raspberry Jam

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We are really excited to announce that Birmingham Raspberry Jam will be back on November 22nd 2014. We will be using a new venue - King Edward VI Sheldon Heath Academy in East Birmingham.

This will be a family orientated Raspberry Pi day with a number of activities for people of all ages.

Tickets can be ordered here

Entrance is free for students and £2.50 for adults (payable on the door with a valid ticket).

The school has plenty of parking and is in a good location, not far from the A45 near Birmingham Airport.

We will be offering light refreshments (tea, coffee, biscuits and squash) throughout the day and there are many takeaway options locally.

If you have your own Raspberry Pi or project you would like to show we would love you to bring them along.

The day will include a number of short talks and hopefully a live linkup with Alan O’Donohoe at the Hull Raspberry Jam.

The final details for workshops will be made available nearer the date but we anticipate they will include:

* Getting started with a Raspberry Pi
* Minecraft programming for beginners
* More advanced Minecraft programming
* LEDs and flashing code

Any questions please contact the organisers here and clicking on the contact organiser link.


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