Picademy and beyond


Over the last year I have written a number of blog posts about the excellent CPD run by the Raspberry Pi Foundation called Picademy. I was a delegate at the October 2014 Picademy in Cambridge and then was very fortunate to be able to take part in the Birmingham events as a leader / trainer.

As the Picademy machine moves on to a new location for the next round of training I have been thinking about what I have personally got out of the process as a leader.

1. Making new friends

It was great to hang out with members of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. They are really passionate and enthusiastic about their work and this is really contagious. Our team was great to work with and I had lots of fun working with Martin O’Hanlon, Dave Jones and Josh Johnson.


2. Learning new skills.

I made sure that I left each session with new sills and knowledge for myself. I now have a much better understanding of how to use GitHub correctly, I learnt how to create documents in Markdown and share them. I spent much time picking the brains of Dave Jones about networking Raspberry Pi cameras and streaming video. I also spent some time creating circuits diagrams with Fritzing.

3 leds

3. Creative problem solving using the Pi.

The second day of Picademy is spent working on projects. As a Science teacher I often spend time thinking of creative ways to solve problems in the classroom. I was able to apply a similar thought process at Picademy. My favourite moment had to be with the group who wanted to make a noise level detector for their classroom. this was not as easy as it first seemed as we needed a method of measuring volume and using it to trigger events. I eventually came up with a method of using an old speaker connected to the analogue port of the Explorer Hat and using this to measure voltage changes using the speaker as a microphone.


For more information about Picademy check out the link here https://www.raspberrypi.org/picademy/


Birmingham Picademy

Just before the end of the school summer holidays an intrepid group of teachers joined the ranks of the Raspberry Pi Certified Educators after spending two days at Picademy in Birmingham.


The two days were held in the stunning Birmingham Library Google Garage and was led by Martin O’Hanlon, Josh Johnson, Dave Jones and myself.


The Birmingham Picademy followed the same program used at the Cambridge and Leeds events with day one being spent doing workshops and the second day mainly being spent working on projects.

After a brief introduction to the course delegates were setting up their Raspberry Pis and jumping into the workshops.

Workshop 1: Introduction to GPIO using Scratch and Python
Workshop 2: Sonic Pi
Workshop 3: Minecraft
Workshop 4: Making cool stuff with add-ons (using the Explorer Hat)
Workshop 5: Taking selfies with the Picamera

The first day went really well and everyone was very keen to engage with all the activities. Workshop 4 was really fun and we felt very optimistic for day 2 after seeing all the cool things people made. Day one ended with a very nice meal and we came back refreshed for day two.



The second day started with engaging presentations about YRS, engaging leaners in computer science and feedback from Skycademy. After the community talks we dived straight into the project day. There was a really good range of project ideas and these developed really well throughout the day.




Projects included:

  • Twitter camera bot
  • Plotting telemetry data in Minecraft
  • Minecraft dance mat
  • Robot
  • Classroom monitor for noise level
  • Baby monitoring device
  • Light writing wand using the sense hat

The second day ended with certificates being handed out to our now Certified Raspberry Pi Educators.

There are still three more Birmingham Picademy events to be held at the Birmingham Digital Garage on:

1st - 2nd October
2nd - 3rd November
7-8th December

More details can be found here

Martin O’Hanlon will also be running mini Jam style events with the first being on Saturday 31st October and more details can be found here

A final word about the team from Google. They were amazing, really helpful and went above and beyond to help make our event as successful as possible.


Picademy is coming to Birmingham

Picademy is coming to Birmingham!

A very exciting update came out today from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The awesome and free CPD opportunity Picademy is coming to the Google Digital Garage in Birmingham.

Read the full blog post from the Pi Foundation here.

The sessions will be run by the amazing Martin O’Hanlon (http://www.stuffaboutcode.com) along with some other familiar faces from the wider Raspberry Pi community.

The dates are:

27th – 28th August
1st – 2nd October
2nd – 3rd November
7th – 8th December

At the end of the two days you join the ever-growing band of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators.

certified-educator-blog SO

To read more about my experience going through Picademy have a read of these two blog posts:

Picademy - October 2014

What was the impact of becoming a Certified Educator?




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.


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.

picademy3 picademy4