My Year with the Raspberry Pi
I released my first website eight years ago at the age of six. It was a website dedicated to the latest news from the children's site 'Club Penguin'. Back then, the chance of me owning my own robot was as low as the chance NASA has of landing on Jupiter. By that, I mean it was basically impossible. Now at the age of fourteen, I own two. This is all thanks to the Raspberry Pi, a credit card sized computer. I heard about the Pi in November 2014, when my computer science teacher posted about MinecraftPi on our school VLE. I'm a massive fan of the game, so having the pi associated to it led me to research the device until I eventually received the original model B with an awesome rainbow PiBow for my birthday in February. As a result of this, I've had an amazing school year in the field of computer science. In May, I attended the Southend Raspberry Jam, which was a really awesome day as I spoke about my school's Astro Pi entry with another girl named Marian, who is also pi crazy! We met loads of people who worked as programmers and developers which inspired me to keep learning and creating. However, my experiences with the pi have not been all about software. The strangest thing is that now, I'm not 100% sure whether I want to be a hardware or software developer! Through the pi, I have learnt the skill of soldering by connecting GPIO headers to new components, and when soldering motor controller boards. I've also been to the first Southend Fablab which is an event all about 3D printing. This led me to buy a Vellemen 3D printer of my own, and it was great fun to put together! However, the most amazing part of owning and programming with the Raspberry Pi is the community of makers that comes with it. As a result of this massive community, I have met loads of inspiring people, and those I haven't have spoken to me via twitter (such as Spencer who runs this fine blog). Whilst I've taken a load of inspiration, it makes me really proud to say that I have started inspiring others by teaching year 7 and 9 classes at my school. The main topic is MinecraftPi, which is really good for an introduction to Python, which we use for GCSE so I suppose it creates an early interest, which will hopefully persuade more year sevens to choose computer science for their GCSEs.In the future, I hope to collaborate the BBC Microbit with the pi and run a club for the new intake so the Microbit isn't something that they forget to bring to lessons, and eventually gets hoovered up in year 8. Thanks for reading this, and I hope to meet more of the pi community in September, where I will be speaking about MinecraftPi at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam.
Yasmin Bey Young Programmer / Enderman Slayer
Tweachcode - a weekly Twitter chat session for teachers of computing
Who likes free high quality CPD that doesn’t generate any cover?
Every Monday at 8pm for the last few months I have been sat on my computer engaging in a Twitter conversation with a great group of people from around the UK and beyond.
The conversations are hosted by @TweachCode with guests sometimes joining them. A series of questions on a topic are posted out during the hour from 8-9pm and replies are shared with #TweachCode. An archive is made of the conversation using storify and are available to read on the CPD for Teachers website.
Topics have included
Cross Curricular Computing
Python for Key Stage 4
Solving real world problems
Transition to Text based programming
Currently there are 27 Discussions on the website.
What has been good?
- Monday at 8pm is a good time to think about teaching and learning. It sets you up in the right frame of mind for the rest of the week.
- A great opportunity for networking. I have picked up many followers and started following many others
- No silly questions. People have been very supportive and have not belittled any question for being too simple or silly
- A great balance of ‘experts’ and people wanting to find out solutions
- An opportunity for everyone to contribute as little or as much as they want
- Lots (and I mean lots) of great resources shared
- Well thought out questions and prompts for the discussion
Tweachcode are now on holiday for the summer and will be back in the new school term. I can thoroughly recommend this CPD opportunity. With a permanent record made through storify participation in the discussion can be documented as CPD evidence towards Performance management targets.
Tweachcode is run by CPD for Teachers who run a number of courses throughout the year. They can be contacted on 0844 870 8935 and via firstname.lastname@example.org
During our curriculum days I was given an opportunity to run a Minecraft programming workshop with half of year 7 and half of year 8. This is a workshop I already run at other schools and events so was excited to see what my students would make of it.
The theme for the day in Science was First Aid so we had a look at building a 3D hospital in Minecraft using a few lines of Python code.
For most of the students (apart from the ones who come to Raspberry Pi club) this was their first experience of writing a text based computer program. Students were given a worksheet with the basic program which they had to type in and then run. This was a challenge for many students who found the task of copy typing accurately very difficult. Once the code was written and the hospital was built students then had an opportunity to tinker with the code to change the dimensions and the materials the hospital was made from.
It was a really interesting experience giving the students "an hour of code". Most of the students engaged with it well and were keen to type in the code and tinker with it. Some became frustrated when their code didn't work and they had to go back and debug it.
Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi is definitely a great way of introducing students to text based programming.
The code for the hospital can be found here.
If someone had said that I would be running a successful computer programming club at school, training other teachers in programming and hooked up to such a great community I would not have believed it.
The scary thing is that after all this work I am becoming more and more certain that I want to make the transition from Science / Chemistry teacher to Computer Science teacher.
I made this video to explain how my son got interested in programming and how the Raspberry Pi has influenced him.
I do feel very excited about the future especially now that we have so many young people interested in programming, tinkering and project making. I don’t believe that everyone is destined to become the next big programmer or app developer but I do believe the skills that are developed have a much wider benefit.
Here’s to a bright future!
July 2012 was a great time for the Raspberry Pi in our house. We were a very early adopter and it became a very popular device during the summer holiday.
We made a number of videos showing some of the simple scratch games written by Philip at the age of 7. Whilst not being technically the most advanced pieces of code it did start him on a journey of discovery in coding.
Fast forward 18 month and my first Pi is now sat in the cupboard under the stairs as a file server and Philip has moved on from Scratch to writing batch files based on sample code he found online.
After much persuasion Philip encouraged me to buy another Pi for him to use for coding and playing Minecraft.
So here it is .....
After getting onto the Pi store we decided to download a couple of game tutorials. The first one we found was for a Raspberry Pi version of space invaders. After playing a few games Philip said “I wish I had more lives and I didn’t die when it hits the bottom”. This was a great cue from me to say - “If we have a look at the code we might be able to change it!”
This was the moment where the penny dropped for Philip.
After having such good fun with Scratch I do hope that this develops into something he will be interested in!