Tag Archives: physical computing

Create a text-based adventure game with FutureLearn

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/text-based-futurelearn/

Learning with Raspberry Pi has never been so easy! We’re adding a new course to FutureLearn today, and you can take part anywhere in the world.

FutureLearn: the story so far…

In February 2017, we were delighted to launch two free online CPD training courses on the FutureLearn platform, available anywhere in the world. Since the launch, more than 30,000 educators have joined these courses: Teaching Programming in Primary Schools, and Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python.

Futurelearn Raspberry Pi

Thousands of educators have been building their skills – completing tasks such as writing a program in Python to make an LED blink, or building a voting app in Scratch. The two courses are scaffolded to build skills, week by week. Learners are supported by videos, screencasts, and articles, and they have the chance to apply what they have learned in as many different practical projects as possible.

We have had some excellent feedback from learners on the courses, such as Kyle Wilke who commented: “Fantastic course. Nice integration of text-based and video instruction. Was very impressed how much support was provided by fellow students, kudos to us. Can’t wait to share this with fellow educators.”

Brand new course

We are launching a new course this autumn. You can join lead educator Laura Sachs to learn object-oriented programming principles by creating your own text-based adventure game in Python. The course is aimed at educators who have programming experience, but have never programmed in the object-oriented style.

Future Learn: Object-oriented Programming in Python trailer

Our newest FutureLearn course in now live. You can join lead educator Laura Sachs to learn object-oriented programming principles by creating your own text-based adventure game in Python. The course is aimed at educators who have programming experience, but have never programmed in the object-oriented style.

The course will introduce you to the principles of object-oriented programming in Python, showing you how to create objects, functions, methods, and classes. You’ll use what you learn to create your own text-based adventure game. You will have the chance to share your code with other learners, and to see theirs. If you’re an educator, you’ll also be able to develop ideas for using object-oriented programming in your classroom.

Take part

Sign up now to join us on the course, starting today, September 4. Our courses are free to join online – so you can learn wherever you are, and whenever you want.

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Updates to GPIO Zero, the physical computing API

Post Syndicated from Ben Nuttall original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/gpio-zero-update/

GPIO Zero v1.4 is out now! It comes with a set of new features, including a handy pinout command line tool. To start using this newest version of the API, update your Raspbian OS now:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Some of the things we’ve added will make it easier for you try your hand on different programming styles. In doing so you’ll build your coding skills, and will improve as a programmer. As a consequence, you’ll learn to write more complex code, which will enable you to take on advanced electronics builds. And on top of that, you can use the skills you’ll acquire in other computing projects.

GPIO Zero pinout tool

The new pinout tool

Developing GPIO Zero

Nearly two years ago, I started the GPIO Zero project as a simple wrapper around the low-level RPi.GPIO library. I wanted to create a simpler way to control GPIO-connected devices in Python, based on three years’ experience of training teachers, running workshops, and building projects. The idea grew over time, and the more we built for our Python library, the more sophisticated and powerful it became.

One of the great things about Python is that it’s a multi-paradigm programming language. You can write code in a number of different styles, according to your needs. You don’t have to write classes, but you can if you need them. There are functional programming tools available, but beginners get by without them. Importantly, the more advanced features of the language are not a barrier to entry.

Become a more advanced programmer

As a beginner to programming, you usually start by writing procedural programs, in which the flow moves from top to bottom. Then you’ll probably add loops and create your own functions. Your next step might be to start using libraries which introduce new patterns that operate in a different manner to what you’ve written before, for example threaded callbacks (event-driven programming). You might move on to object-oriented programming, extending the functionality of classes provided by other libraries, and starting to write your own classes. Occasionally, you may make use of tools created with functional programming techniques.

Five buttons in different colours

Take control of the buttons in your life

It’s much the same with GPIO Zero: you can start using it very easily, and we’ve made it simple to progress along the learning curve towards more advanced programming techniques. For example, if you want to make a push button control an LED, the easiest way to do this is via procedural programming using a while loop:

from gpiozero import LED, Button

led = LED(17)
button = Button(2)

while True:
    if button.is_pressed:
        led.on()
    else:
        led.off()

But another way to achieve the same thing is to use events:

from gpiozero import LED, Button
from signal import pause

led = LED(17)
button = Button(2)

button.when_pressed = led.on
button.when_released = led.off

pause()

You could even use a declarative approach, and set the LED’s behaviour in a single line:

from gpiozero import LED, Button
from signal import pause

led = LED(17)
button = Button(2)

led.source = button.values

pause()

You will find that using the procedural approach is a great start, but at some point you’ll hit a limit, and will have to try a different approach. The example above can be approach in several programming styles. However, if you’d like to control a wider range of devices or a more complex system, you need to carefully consider which style works best for what you want to achieve. Being able to choose the right programming style for a task is a skill in itself.

Source/values properties

So how does the led.source = button.values thing actually work?

Every GPIO Zero device has a .value property. For example, you can read a button’s state (True or False), and read or set an LED’s state (so led.value = True is the same as led.on()). Since LEDs and buttons operate with the same value set (True and False), you could say led.value = button.value. However, this only sets the LED to match the button once. If you wanted it to always match the button’s state, you’d have to use a while loop. To make things easier, we came up with a way of telling devices they’re connected: we added a .values property to all devices, and a .source to output devices. Now, a loop is no longer necessary, because this will do the job:

led.source = button.values

This is a simple approach to connecting devices using a declarative style of programming. In one single line, we declare that the LED should get its values from the button, i.e. when the button is pressed, the LED should be on. You can even mix the procedural with the declarative style: at one stage of the program, the LED could be set to match the button, while in the next stage it could just be blinking, and finally it might return back to its original state.

These additions are useful for connecting other devices as well. For example, a PWMLED (LED with variable brightness) has a value between 0 and 1, and so does a potentiometer connected via an ADC (analogue-digital converter) such as the MCP3008. The new GPIO Zero update allows you to say led.source = pot.values, and then twist the potentiometer to control the brightness of the LED.

But what if you want to do something more complex, like connect two devices with different value sets or combine multiple inputs?

We provide a set of device source tools, which allow you to process values as they flow from one device to another. They also let you send in artificial values such as random data, and you can even write your own functions to generate values to pass to a device’s source. For example, to control a motor’s speed with a potentiometer, you could use this code:

from gpiozero import Motor, MCP3008
from signal import pause

motor = Motor(20, 21)
pot = MCP3008()

motor.source = pot.values

pause()

This works, but it will only drive the motor forwards. If you wanted the potentiometer to drive it forwards and backwards, you’d use the scaled tool to scale its values to a range of -1 to 1:

from gpiozero import Motor, MCP3008
from gpiozero.tools import scaled
from signal import pause

motor = Motor(20, 21)
pot = MCP3008()

motor.source = scaled(pot.values, -1, 1)

pause()

And to separately control a robot’s left and right motor speeds with two potentiometers, you could do this:

from gpiozero import Robot, MCP3008
from signal import pause

robot = Robot(left=(2, 3), right=(4, 5))
left = MCP3008(0)
right = MCP3008(1)

robot.source = zip(left.values, right.values)

pause()

GPIO Zero and Blue Dot

Martin O’Hanlon created a Python library called Blue Dot which allows you to use your Android device to remotely control things on their Raspberry Pi. The API is very similar to GPIO Zero, and it even incorporates the value/values properties, which means you can hook it up to GPIO devices easily:

from bluedot import BlueDot
from gpiozero import LED
from signal import pause

bd = BlueDot()
led = LED(17)

led.source = bd.values

pause()

We even included a couple of Blue Dot examples in our recipes.

Make a series of binary logic gates using source/values

Read more in this source/values tutorial from The MagPi, and on the source/values documentation page.

Remote GPIO control

GPIO Zero supports multiple low-level GPIO libraries. We use RPi.GPIO by default, but you can choose to use RPIO or pigpio instead. The pigpio library supports remote connections, so you can run GPIO Zero on one Raspberry Pi to control the GPIO pins of another, or run code on a PC (running Windows, Mac, or Linux) to remotely control the pins of a Pi on the same network. You can even control two or more Pis at once!

If you’re using Raspbian on a Raspberry Pi (or a PC running our x86 Raspbian OS), you have everything you need to remotely control GPIO. If you’re on a PC running Windows, Mac, or Linux, you just need to install gpiozero and pigpio using pip. See our guide on configuring remote GPIO.

I road-tested the new pin_factory syntax at the Raspberry Jam @ Pi Towers

There are a number of different ways to use remote pins:

  • Set the default pin factory and remote IP address with environment variables:
$ GPIOZERO_PIN_FACTORY=pigpio PIGPIO_ADDR=192.168.1.2 python3 blink.py
  • Set the default pin factory in your script:
import gpiozero
from gpiozero import LED
from gpiozero.pins.pigpio import PiGPIOFactory

gpiozero.Device.pin_factory = PiGPIOFactory(host='192.168.1.2')

led = LED(17)
  • The pin_factory keyword argument allows you to use multiple Pis in the same script:
from gpiozero import LED
from gpiozero.pins.pigpio import PiGPIOFactory

factory2 = PiGPIOFactory(host='192.168.1.2')
factory3 = PiGPIOFactory(host='192.168.1.3')

local_hat = TrafficHat()
remote_hat2 = TrafficHat(pin_factory=factory2)
remote_hat3 = TrafficHat(pin_factory=factory3)

This is a really powerful feature! For more, read this remote GPIO tutorial in The MagPi, and check out the remote GPIO recipes in our documentation.

GPIO Zero on your PC

GPIO Zero doesn’t have any dependencies, so you can install it on your PC using pip. In addition to the API’s remote GPIO control, you can use its ‘mock’ pin factory on your PC. We originally created the mock pin feature for the GPIO Zero test suite, but we found that it’s really useful to be able to test GPIO Zero code works without running it on real hardware:

$ GPIOZERO_PIN_FACTORY=mock python3
>>> from gpiozero import LED
>>> led = LED(22)
>>> led.blink()
>>> led.value
True
>>> led.value
False

You can even tell pins to change state (e.g. to simulate a button being pressed) by accessing an object’s pin property:

>>> from gpiozero import LED
>>> led = LED(22)
>>> button = Button(23)
>>> led.source = button.values
>>> led.value
False
>>> button.pin.drive_low()
>>> led.value
True

You can also use the pinout command line tool if you set your pin factory to ‘mock’. It gives you a Pi 3 diagram by default, but you can supply a revision code to see information about other Pi models. For example, to use the pinout tool for the original 256MB Model B, just type pinout -r 2.

GPIO Zero documentation and resources

On the API’s website, we provide beginner recipes and advanced recipes, and we have added remote GPIO configuration including PC/Mac/Linux and Pi Zero OTG, and a section of GPIO recipes. There are also new sections on source/values, command-line tools, FAQs, Pi information and library development.

You’ll find plenty of cool projects using GPIO Zero in our learning resources. For example, you could check out the one that introduces physical computing with Python and get stuck in! We even provide a GPIO Zero cheat sheet you can download and print.

There are great GPIO Zero tutorials and projects in The MagPi magazine every month. Moreover, they also publish Simple Electronics with GPIO Zero, a book which collects a series of tutorials useful for building your knowledge of physical computing. And the best thing is, you can download it, and all magazine issues, for free!

Check out the API documentation and read more about what’s new in GPIO Zero on my blog. We have lots planned for the next release. Watch this space.

Get building!

The world of physical computing is at your fingertips! Are you feeling inspired?

If you’ve never tried your hand on physical computing, our Build a robot buggy learning resource is the perfect place to start! It’s your step-by-step guide for building a simple robot controlled with the help of GPIO Zero.

If you have a gee-whizz idea for an electronics project, do share it with us below. And if you’re currently working on a cool build and would like to show us how it’s going, pop a link to it in the comments.

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Teaching with Raspberry Pis and PiNet

Post Syndicated from Janina Ander original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/teaching-pinet/

Education is our mission at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, so of course we love tools that help teachers and other educators use Raspberry Pis in a classroom setting. PiNet, which allows teachers to centrally manage a whole classroom’s worth of Pis, makes administrating a fleet of Pis easier. Set up individual student accounts, install updates and software, share files – PiNet helps you do all of this!

Caleb VinCross on Twitter

The new PiNet lab up and running. 30 raspberry pi 3’s running as fat clients for 600 + students. Much thanks to the PiNet team! @PiNetDev.

PiNet developer Andrew

PiNet was built and is maintained by Andrew Mulholland, who started work on this project when he was 15, and who is also one of the organisers of the Northern Ireland Raspberry Jam. Check out what he says about PiNet’s capabilities in his guest post here.

PiNet in class

PiNet running in a classroom

PiNet, teacher’s pet

PiNet has been available for about two years now, and the teachers using it are over the moon. Here’s what a few of them say about their experience:

We wanted a permanently set up classroom with 30+ Raspberry Pis to teach programming. Students wanted their work to be secure and backed up and we needed a way to keep the Pis up to date. PiNet has made both possible and the classroom now required little or no maintenance. PiNet was set up in a single day and was so successful we set up a second Pi room. We now have 60 Raspberry Pis which are used by our students every day. – Rob Jones, Secondary School Teacher, United Kingdom

AKS Computing on Twitter

21xRaspPi+dedicated network+PiNet server+3 geeks = success! Ready to test with a full class.

I teach Computer Science at middle school, so I have 4 classes per day in my lab, sharing 20 Raspberry Pis. PiNet gives each student separate storage space. Any changes to the Raspbian image can be done from my dashboard. We use Scratch, Minecraft Pi, Sonic Pi, and do physical computing. And when I have had issues, or have wanted to try something a little crazy, the support has been fabulous. – Bob Irving, Middle School Teacher, USA

Wolf Math on Twitter

We’re starting our music unit with @deejaydoc. My CS students are going through the @Sonic_Pi turorial on @PiNetDev.

I teach computer classes for about 600 students between the ages of 5 and 13. PiNet has really made it possible to expand our technology curriculum beyond the simple web-based applications that our Chromebooks were limited to. I’m now able to use Arduino boards to do basic physical computing with LEDs and sensors. None of this could have happened without PiNet making it easy to have an affordable, stable, and maintainable way of managing 30 Linux computers in our lab. – Caleb VinCross, Primary School Teacher, USA

More for educators

If you’re involved in teaching computing, be that as a professional or as a volunteer, check out the new free magazine Hello World, brought to you by Computing At School, BCS Academy of Computing, and Raspberry Pi working in partnership. It is written by educators for educators, and available in print and as a PDF download. And if you’d like to keep up to date with what we are offering to educators and learners, sign up for our education newsletter here.

Are you a teacher who uses Raspberry Pis in the classroom, or another kind of educator who has used them in a group setting? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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Raspberry Pi Certified Educators shine at ISTE 2017

Post Syndicated from Andrew Collins original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/certified-educators-iste-2017/

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the 2017 ISTE Conference & Expo, which saw over 20,000 educators convene in San Antonio earlier this summer. As a new Raspberry Pi Foundation team member, I was thrilled to meet the many Raspberry Pi Certified Educators (RCEs) in attendance. They came from across the country to share their knowledge, skills, and advice with fellow educators interested in technology and digital making.

This is the only GIF. Honest.

Meet the RCEs

Out of the dozens of RCEs who attended, here are three awesome members of our community and their ISTE 2017 stories:

Nicholas Provenzano, Makerspace Director at University Liggett School and the original nerdy teacher, shared his ideas for designing innovative STEAM and maker projects. He also knocked our socks off by building his own digital badge using a Raspberry Pi Zero to stream tweets from the conference.

Andrew Collins on Twitter

What’s up w/ @Raspberry_Pi & digital making? Serious knowledge dropping at #ISTE17 #picademy

Amanda Haughs, TOSA Digital Innovation Coach in Campbell Union School District and digital learning champion, shared her ideas for engaging elementary school learners in technology and digital making. She also went next level with her ISTE swag, creating a wearable Raspberry Pi tote bag combining sewing and circuitry.

Amanda Haughs on Twitter

New post: “Pi Tote– a sewing and circuitry project w/the @Raspberry_Pi Zero W” https://t.co/Fb1IFZMH1n #picademy #Maker #ISTE17 #PiZeroW

Rafranz Davis, Executive Director of Professional and Digital Learning for Lufkin ISD and edtech leader extraordinaire, shared her vision for making innovation and digital learning more equitable and accessible for all. She also received the ISTE 2017 Award for Outstanding Leadership in recognition of her efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion for learners across learning environments.

EdSurge on Twitter

At #iste17, @rafranzdavis speaks about the privilege of access. How do we make innovation less privileged? #edtechc… https://t.co/6foMzgfE6f

Rafranz, Nicholas, and Amanda are all members of our original Picademy cohorts in the United States. Since summer 2016, more than 300 educators have attended US Picademy events and joined the RCE community. Be on the lookout later this year for our 2018 season events and sign up here for updates.

The Foundation at ISTE 2017

Oh, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation team was also at ISTE 2017 and we’re not too shabby either : ). We held a Raspberry Jam, which saw some fantastic projects from Raspberry Pi Certified Educators — the Raspberry Pi Preserve Jar from Heidi Baynes, Scratch student projects from Bradley Quentin and Kimberly Boyce, and Sense HAT activities with Efren Rodriguez.

But that’s not all we got up to! You can learn more about our team’s presentations — including on how to send a Raspberry Pi to near space — on our ISTE conference page here.

Raspberry Pi on Twitter

Our #ISTE17 crew had a PACKED day in San Antonio. If you didn’t catch them today, see where they’ll be: https://t.co/Rt0ec7PF7S

Join the fold

Inspired by all this education goodness? You can become a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator as well! All you need to do is attend one of our free two-day Picademy courses held across the US and UK. Join this amazing community of more than 1,000 teachers, librarians, and volunteers, and help more people learn about digital making.

If you’re interested in what our RCEs do at Picademy, check out our free online courses. These are available to anyone, and you can use them to learn about teaching coding and physical computing from the comfort of your home.

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PiCorder, the miniature camcorder

Post Syndicated from Janina Ander original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/picorder/

The modest dimensions of our Raspberry Pi Zero and its wirelessly connectable sibling, the Pi Zero W, enable makers in our community to build devices that are very small indeed. The PiCorder built by Wayne Keenan is probably the slimmest Pi-powered video-recording device we’ve ever seen.

PiCorder – Pimoroni HyperPixel

A simple Pi-camcorder using @pimoroni #HyperPixel, ZeroLipo, lipo bat, camera and #PiZeroW. All parts from the Pirates, total of ~£85. Project build instructions: https://www.hackster.io/TheBubbleworks/picorder-0eb94d

PiCorder hardware

Wayne’s PiCorder is a very straightforward make. On the hardware side, it features a Pimoroni HyperPixel screen, Pi Zero camera module, and Zero LiPo plus LiPo battery pack. To put it together, he simply soldered header pins onto a Zero W, and connected all the components to it – easy as Pi! (Yes, I went there.)

PiCorder

So sleek as to be almost aerodynamic

Recording with the PiCorder (rePiCording?)

Then it was just a matter of installing the HyperPixel driver on the Pi, and the PiCorder was good to go. In this basic setup, recording is controlled via SSH. However, there’s a discussion about better ways to control the device in the comments on Wayne’s write-up. As the HyperPixel is a touchscreen, adding a GUI would make full use of its capabilities.

Picorder screen

Think about how many screens you’re looking at right now

The PiCorder is a great project to recreate if you’re looking to build a small portable camera. If you’re new to soldering, this build is perfect for you: just follow our ‘How to solder’ video and tutorial, and you’re on your way. This could be the start of your journey into the magical world of physical computing!

You could also check our blog on Alex Ellis‘s implementation of YouTube live-streaming for the Pi, and learn how to share your videos in real time.

Cool camera projects

Our educational resources include plenty of cool projects that could use the PiCorder, or for which the device could be adapted.

Get your head around using the official Raspberry Pi Camera Module with this picamera tutorial. Learn how to set up a stationary or wearable time-lapse camera, and turn your images into animated GIFs. You could also kickstart your career as a director by making an amazing stop-motion film!

No matter which camera project you choose to work on, we’d love to see the results. So be sure to share a link in the comments.

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Scratch 2.0: all-new features for your Raspberry Pi

Post Syndicated from Rik Cross original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/scratch-2-raspberry-pi/

We’re very excited to announce that Scratch 2.0 is now available as an offline app for the Raspberry Pi! This new version of Scratch allows you to control the Pi’s GPIO (General Purpose Input and Output) pins, and offers a host of other exciting new features.

Offline accessibility

The most recent update to Raspbian includes the app, which makes Scratch 2.0 available offline on the Raspberry Pi. This is great news for clubs and classrooms, where children can now use Raspberry Pis instead of connected laptops or desktops to explore block-based programming and physical computing.

Controlling GPIO with Scratch 2.0

As with Scratch 1.4, Scratch 2.0 on the Raspberry Pi allows you to create code to control and respond to components connected to the Pi’s GPIO pins. This means that your Scratch projects can light LEDs, sound buzzers and use input from buttons and a range of sensors to control the behaviour of sprites. Interacting with GPIO pins in Scratch 2.0 is easier than ever before, as text-based broadcast instructions have been replaced with custom blocks for setting pin output and getting current pin state.

Scratch 2.0 GPIO blocks

To add GPIO functionality, first click ‘More Blocks’ and then ‘Add an Extension’. You should then select the ‘Pi GPIO’ extension option and click OK.

Scratch 2.0 GPIO extension

In the ‘More Blocks’ section you should now see the additional blocks for controlling and responding to your Pi GPIO pins. To give an example, the entire code for repeatedly flashing an LED connected to GPIO pin 2.0 is now:

Flashing an LED with Scratch 2.0

To react to a button connected to GPIO pin 2.0, simply set the pin as input, and use the ‘gpio (x) is high?’ block to check the button’s state. In the example below, the Scratch cat will say “Pressed” only when the button is being held down.

Responding to a button press on Scractch 2.0

Cloning sprites

Scratch 2.0 also offers some additional features and improvements over Scratch 1.4. One of the main new features of Scratch 2.0 is the ability to create clones of sprites. Clones are instances of a particular sprite that inherit all of the scripts of the main sprite.

The scripts below show how cloned sprites are used — in this case to allow the Scratch cat to throw a clone of an apple sprite whenever the space key is pressed. Each apple sprite clone then follows its ‘when i start as clone’ script.

Cloning sprites with Scratch 2.0

The cloning functionality avoids the need to create multiple copies of a sprite, for example multiple enemies in a game or multiple snowflakes in an animation.

Custom blocks

Scratch 2.0 also allows the creation of custom blocks, allowing code to be encapsulated and used (possibly multiple times) in a project. The code below shows a simple custom block called ‘jump’, which is used to make a sprite jump whenever it is clicked.

Custom 'jump' block on Scratch 2.0

These custom blocks can also optionally include parameters, allowing further generalisation and reuse of code blocks. Here’s another example of a custom block that draws a shape. This time, however, the custom block includes parameters for specifying the number of sides of the shape, as well as the length of each side.

Custom shape-drawing block with Scratch 2.0

The custom block can now be used with different numbers provided, allowing lots of different shapes to be drawn.

Drawing shapes with Scratch 2.0

Peripheral interaction

Another feature of Scratch 2.0 is the addition of code blocks to allow easy interaction with a webcam or a microphone. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities, and for some examples of projects that make use of this new functionality see Clap-O-Meter which uses the microphone to control a noise level meter, and a Keepie Uppies game that uses video motion to control a football. You can use the Raspberry Pi or USB cameras to detect motion in your Scratch 2.0 projects.

Other new features include a vector image editor and a sound editor, as well as lots of new sprites, costumes and backdrops.

Update your Raspberry Pi for Scratch 2.0

Scratch 2.0 is available in the latest Raspbian release, under the ‘Programming’ menu. We’ve put together a guide for getting started with Scratch 2.0 on the Raspberry Pi online (note that GPIO functionality is only available via the desktop version). You can also try out Scratch 2.0 on the Pi by having a go at a project from the Code Club projects site.

As always, we love to see the projects you create using the Raspberry Pi. Once you’ve upgraded to Scratch 2.0, tell us about your projects via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or by leaving us a comment below.

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A Raspbian desktop update with some new programming tools

Post Syndicated from Simon Long original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/a-raspbian-desktop-update-with-some-new-programming-tools/

Today we’ve released another update to the Raspbian desktop. In addition to the usual small tweaks and bug fixes, the big new changes are the inclusion of an offline version of Scratch 2.0, and of Thonny (a user-friendly IDE for Python which is excellent for beginners). We’ll look at all the changes in this post, but let’s start with the biggest…

Scratch 2.0 for Raspbian

Scratch is one of the most popular pieces of software on Raspberry Pi. This is largely due to the way it makes programming accessible – while it is simple to learn, it covers many of the concepts that are used in more advanced languages. Scratch really does provide a great introduction to programming for all ages.

Raspbian ships with the original version of Scratch, which is now at version 1.4. A few years ago, though, the Scratch team at the MIT Media Lab introduced the new and improved Scratch version 2.0, and ever since we’ve had numerous requests to offer it on the Pi.

There was, however, a problem with this. The original version of Scratch was written in a language called Squeak, which could run on the Pi in a Squeak interpreter. Scratch 2.0, however, was written in Flash, and was designed to run from a remote site in a web browser. While this made Scratch 2.0 a cross-platform application, which you could run without installing any Scratch software, it also meant that you had to be able to run Flash on your computer, and that you needed to be connected to the internet to program in Scratch.

We worked with Adobe to include the Pepper Flash plugin in Raspbian, which enables Flash sites to run in the Chromium browser. This addressed the first of these problems, so the Scratch 2.0 website has been available on Pi for a while. However, it still needed an internet connection to run, which wasn’t ideal in many circumstances. We’ve been working with the Scratch team to get an offline version of Scratch 2.0 running on Pi.

Screenshot of Scratch on Raspbian

The Scratch team had created a website to enable developers to create hardware and software extensions for Scratch 2.0; this provided a version of the Flash code for the Scratch editor which could be modified to run locally rather than over the internet. We combined this with a program called Electron, which effectively wraps up a local web page into a standalone application. We ended up with the Scratch 2.0 application that you can find in the Programming section of the main menu.

Physical computing with Scratch 2.0

We didn’t stop there though. We know that people want to use Scratch for physical computing, and it has always been a bit awkward to access GPIO pins from Scratch. In our Scratch 2.0 application, therefore, there is a custom extension which allows the user to control the Pi’s GPIO pins without difficulty. Simply click on ‘More Blocks’, choose ‘Add an Extension’, and select ‘Pi GPIO’. This loads two new blocks, one to read and one to write the state of a GPIO pin.

Screenshot of new Raspbian iteration of Scratch 2, featuring GPIO pin control blocks.

The Scratch team kindly allowed us to include all the sprites, backdrops, and sounds from the online version of Scratch 2.0. You can also use the Raspberry Pi Camera Module to create new sprites and backgrounds.

This first release works well, although it can be slow for some operations; this is largely unavoidable for Flash code running under Electron. Bear in mind that you will need to have the Pepper Flash plugin installed (which it is by default on standard Raspbian images). As Pepper Flash is only compatible with the processor in the Pi 2.0 and Pi 3, it is unfortunately not possible to run Scratch 2.0 on the Pi Zero or the original models of the Pi.

We hope that this makes Scratch 2.0 a more practical proposition for many users than it has been to date. Do let us know if you hit any problems, though!

Thonny: a more user-friendly IDE for Python

One of the paths from Scratch to ‘real’ programming is through Python. We know that the transition can be awkward, and this isn’t helped by the tools available for learning Python. It’s fair to say that IDLE, the Python IDE, isn’t the most popular piece of software ever written…

Earlier this year, we reviewed every Python IDE that we could find that would run on a Raspberry Pi, in an attempt to see if there was something better out there than IDLE. We wanted to find something that was easier for beginners to use but still useful for experienced Python programmers. We found one program, Thonny, which stood head and shoulders above all the rest. It’s a really user-friendly IDE, which still offers useful professional features like single-stepping of code and inspection of variables.

Screenshot of Thonny IDE in Raspbian

Thonny was created at the University of Tartu in Estonia; we’ve been working with Aivar Annamaa, the lead developer, on getting it into Raspbian. The original version of Thonny works well on the Pi, but because the GUI is written using Python’s default GUI toolkit, Tkinter, the appearance clashes with the rest of the Raspbian desktop, most of which is written using the GTK toolkit. We made some changes to bring things like fonts and graphics into line with the appearance of our other apps, and Aivar very kindly took that work and converted it into a theme package that could be applied to Thonny.

Due to the limitations of working within Tkinter, the result isn’t exactly like a native GTK application, but it’s pretty close. It’s probably good enough for anyone who isn’t a picky UI obsessive like me, anyway! Have a look at the Thonny webpage to see some more details of all the cool features it offers. We hope that having a more usable environment will help to ease the transition from graphical languages like Scratch into ‘proper’ languages like Python.

New icons

Other than these two new packages, this release is mostly bug fixes and small version bumps. One thing you might notice, though, is that we’ve made some tweaks to our custom icon set. We wondered if the icons might look better with slightly thinner outlines. We tried it, and they did: we hope you prefer them too.

Downloading the new image

You can either download a new image from the Downloads page, or you can use apt to update:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

To install Scratch 2.0:

sudo apt-get install scratch2

To install Thonny:

sudo apt-get install python3-thonny

One more thing…

Before Christmas, we released an experimental version of the desktop running on Debian for x86-based computers. We were slightly taken aback by how popular it turned out to be! This made us realise that this was something we were going to need to support going forward. We’ve decided we’re going to try to make all new desktop releases for both Pi and x86 from now on.

The version of this we released last year was a live image that could run from a USB stick. Many people asked if we could make it permanently installable, so this version includes an installer. This uses the standard Debian install process, so it ought to work on most machines. I should stress, though, that we haven’t been able to test on every type of hardware, so there may be issues on some computers. Please be sure to back up your hard drive before installing it. Unlike the live image, this will erase and reformat your hard drive, and you will lose anything that is already on it!

You can still boot the image as a live image if you don’t want to install it, and it will create a persistence partition on the USB stick so you can save data. Just select ‘Run with persistence’ from the boot menu. To install, choose either ‘Install’ or ‘Graphical install’ from the same menu. The Debian installer will then walk you through the install process.

You can download the latest x86 image (which includes both Scratch 2.0 and Thonny) from here or here for a torrent file.

One final thing

This version of the desktop is based on Debian Jessie. Some of you will be aware that a new stable version of Debian (called Stretch) was released last week. Rest assured – we have been working on porting everything across to Stretch for some time now, and we will have a Stretch release ready some time over the summer.

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The Fleischer 100: Pi-powered sound effects

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/fleischer-100/

If there’s one thing we like more than a project video, it’s a project video that has style. And that’s exactly what we got for the Fleischer 100, a Raspberry Pi-powered cartoon sound effects typewriter created by James McCullen.

The Fleischer 100 | Cartoon Sound Effects Toy

The goal of this practical project was to design and make a hardware device that could play numerous sound effects by pressing buttons and tweaking knobs and dials. Taking inspiration from old cartoons of the 1930s in particular – the sound effects would be in the form of mostly conventional musical instruments that were often used to create sound effects in this period of animation history.

The golden age of Foley

Long before the days of the drag-and-drop sound effects of modern video editing software, there were Foley artists. These artists would create sound effects for cartoons, films, and even live performances, often using everyday objects. Here are Orson Welles and the King of Cool himself, Dean Martin, with a demonstration:

Dean Martin & Orson Welles – Early Radio/Sound Effects

Uploaded by dino4ever on 2014-05-26.

The Fleischer 100

“The goal of this practical project was to design and make a hardware device that could be used to play numerous sound effects by pressing buttons and tweaking knobs and dials,” James says, and explains that he has been “taking inspiration from old cartoons of the 1930s in particular”.

The Fleischer 100

Images on the buttons complete the ‘classic cartoon era’ look

With the Fleischer 100, James has captured that era’s look and feel. Having recorded the majority of the sound effects using a Rode NT2-A microphone, he copied the sound files to a Raspberry Pi. The physical computing side of building the typewriter involved connecting the Pi to multiple buttons and switches via a breadboard. The buttons are used to play back the files, and both a toggle and a rotary switch control access to the sound effects – there are one hundred in total! James also made the costumized housing to achieve an appearance in line with the period of early cartoon animation.

The Fleischer 100

Turning the typewriter roller selects a new collection of sound effects

Regarding the design of his device, James was particularly inspired by the typewriter in the 1930s Looney Tunes short Hold Anything – and to our delight, he decided to style the final project video to match its look.

Hold Anything – Looney Tunes (HD)

Release date 1930 Directed by Hugh Harman Rudolf Ising Produced by Hugh Harman Rudolf Ising Leon Schlesinger(Associate Producer) Voices by Carman Maxwell Rochelle Hudson (both uncredited) Music by Frank Marsales Animation by Isadore Freleng Norm Blackburn Distributed by Warner Bros.

We wish we had a Fleischer 100 hidden under a desk at Pi Towers with which to score office goings-on…

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Processing: making art with code

Post Syndicated from Matt Richardson original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/processing-making-art-code/

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

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/sense-hat-emulator-upgrade/

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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Inclusive learning at South London Raspberry Jam

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/inclusive-learning-south-london-raspberry-jam/

Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Grace Owolade-Coombes runs the fantastically inclusive South London Raspberry Jam with her son Femi. In this guest post, she gives us the low-down on how the Jam got started. Enjoy!

Grace and Femi

Grace and Femi Owolade-Coombes

Our Jam has been running for over a year now; we’ve had three really big events and one smaller family hack day. Let me begin by telling you about how the idea of running a Jam arose in the first place.

Around three years ago, I read about how coding was going to be part of the curriculum in primary and secondary schools and, as a teacher in the FE sector, I was intrigued. As I also had a young and inquisitive son, who was at primary school at the time, I felt that we should investigate further.

National STEM Centre

Grace visited the National STEM Learning Centre in York for a course which introduced her to coding.

I later attended a short course at the National STEM Learning Centre in York, during which one of the organisers told me about the Raspberry Pi Foundation; he suggested I come to a coding event back at the Centre a few weeks later with my family. We did, and Femi loved the Minecraft hack.

Note from Alex: not the actual Minecraft hack but I’ll be having words with our resource gurus because this would be brilliant!

The first Raspberry Jam we attended was in Southend with Andy Melder and the crew: it showed us just how welcoming the Jam community can be. Then I was lucky enough to attend Picademy, which truly was a transformative experience. Ben Nuttall showed me how to tweet photographs with the Pi, which was the beginning of me using Twitter. I particularly loved Clive Beale’s physical computing workshop which I took back and delivered to Femi.

Grace Owolade-Coombes with Carrie Anne Philbin

Picademy gave Grace the confidence to deliver Raspberry Pi training herself.

After Picademy, I tweeted that I was now a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator and immediately got a request from Dragon Hall, Convent Garden to run a workshop – I didn’t realise they meant in three days’ time! Femi and I bit the bullet and ran our first physical computing workshop together. We haven’t looked back since.

Festival of Code Femi

Femi went on to join the Festival of Code, which he loved.

Around this time, Femi was attending a Tourettes Action support group, where young people with Tourette’s syndrome, like him, met up. Femi wanted to share his love of coding with them, but he felt that they might be put off as it can be difficult to spend extended amounts of time in public places when you have tics. He asked if we could set up a Jam that was inclusive: it would be both autism- and Tourette’s syndrome-friendly. There was such a wealth of support, advice, and volunteers who would help us set up that it really wasn’t a hard decision to make.

Femi Owolade-Coombes

Grace and Femi set up an Indiegogo campaign to help fund their Jam.

We were fortunate to have met Marc Grossman during the Festival of Code: with his amazing skills and experience with Code Club, we set up together. For our first Jam, we had young coding pioneers from the community, such as Yasmin Bey and Isreal Genius, to join us. We were also blessed with David Whale‘s company and Kano even did a workshop with us. There are too many amazing people to mention.

South London Jam

Grace and Femi held the first South London Raspberry Jam, an autism- and Tourette’s syndrome-friendly event for five- to 15-year-olds, at Deptford Library in October 2016, with 75 participants.

We held a six-session Code Club in Catford Library followed by a second Jam in a local community centre, focusing on robotics with the CamJam EduKit 3, as well as the usual Minecraft hacks.

Our third Jam was in conjunction with Kano, at their HQ, and included a SEN TeachMeet with Computing at School (CAS). Joseph Birks, the inventor of the Crumble, delivered a great robot workshop, and Paul Haynes delivered a Unity workshop too.

Family Hack Day

Grace and Femi’s latest event was a family hack day in conjunction with the London Connected Learning Centre.

Femi often runs workshops at our Jams. We try to encourage young coders to follow in Femi’s footsteps and deliver sessions too: it works best when young people learn from each other, and we hope the confidence they develop will enable them to help their friends and classmates to enjoy coding too.

Inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility are at the heart of our Jams, and we are proud to have Tourettes Action and Ambitious about Autism as partners.

Tourettes Action on Twitter

All welcome to this event in London SAT, 12 DEC 2015 AT 13:00 2nd South London Raspberry Jam 2015 Bellingham… https://t.co/TPYC9Ontot

Now we are taking stock of our amazing journey to learn about coding, and preparing to introduce it to more people. Presently we are looking to collaborate with the South London Makerspace and the Digital Maker Collective, who have invited Femi to deliver robot workshops at Tate Modern. We are also looking to progress to more project-based activities which fit with the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Pioneers challenges.

Femi Astro Pi

South London Raspberry Jam has participated in both Pi Wars and Astro Pi.

Femi writes about all the events we attend or run: see hackerfemo.com or check out our website and sign up to our mailing list to keep informed. We are just about to gather a team for the Pioneers project, so watch out for updates.

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The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Digital Making Curriculum

Post Syndicated from Carrie Anne Philbin original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/digital-making-curriculum/

At Raspberry Pi, we’re determined in our ambition to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world: one way we pursue this is by developing high-quality learning resources to support a growing community of educators. We spend a lot of time thinking hard about what you can learn by tinkering and making with a Raspberry Pi, and other devices and platforms, in order to become skilled in computer programming, electronics, and physical computing.

Now, we’ve taken an exciting step in this journey by defining our own digital making curriculum that will help people everywhere learn new skills.

A PDF version of the curriculum is also available to download.

Who is it for?

We have a large and diverse community of people who are interested in digital making. Some might use the curriculum to help guide and inform their own learning, or perhaps their children’s learning. People who run digital making clubs at schools, community centres, and Raspberry Jams may draw on it for extra guidance on activities that will engage their learners. Some teachers may wish to use the curriculum as inspiration for what to teach their students.

Raspberry Pi produces an extensive and varied range of online learning resources and delivers a huge teacher training program. In creating this curriculum, we have produced our own guide that we can use to help plan our resources and make sure we cover the broad spectrum of learners’ needs.

Progression

Learning anything involves progression. You start with certain skills and knowledge and then, with guidance, practice, and understanding, you gradually progress towards broader and deeper knowledge and competence. Our digital making curriculum is structured around this progression, and in representing it, we wanted to avoid the age-related and stage-related labels that are often associated with a learner’s progress and the preconceptions these labels bring. We came up with our own, using characters to represent different levels of competence, starting with Creator and moving onto Builder and Developer before becoming a Maker.

Progress through our curriculum and become a digital maker

Strands

We want to help people to make things so that they can become the inventors, creators, and makers of tomorrow. Digital making, STEAM, project-based learning, and tinkering are at the core of our teaching philosophy which can be summed up simply as ‘we learn best by doing’.

We’ve created five strands which we think encapsulate key concepts and skills in digital making: Design, Programming, Physical Computing, Manufacture, and Community and Sharing.

Computational thinking

One of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s aims is to help people to learn about computer science and how to make things with computers. We believe that learning how to create with digital technology will help people shape an increasingly digital world, and prepare them for the work of the future.

Computational thinking is at the heart of the learning that we advocate. It’s the thought process that underpins computing and digital making: formulating a problem and expressing its solution in such a way that a computer can effectively carry it out. Computational thinking covers a broad range of knowledge and skills including, but not limited to:

  • Logical reasoning
  • Algorithmic thinking
  • Pattern recognition
  • Abstraction
  • Decomposition
  • Debugging
  • Problem solving

By progressing through our curriculum, learners will develop computational thinking skills and put them into practice.

What’s not on our curriculum?

If there’s one thing we learned from our extensive work in formulating this curriculum, it’s that no two educators or experts can agree on the best approach to progression and learning in the field of digital making. Our curriculum is intended to represent the skills and thought processes essential to making things with technology. We’ve tried to keep the headline outcomes as broad as possible, and then provide further examples as a guide to what could be included.

Our digital making curriculum is not intended to be a replacement for computer science-related curricula around the world, such as the ‘Computing Programme of Study’ in England or the ‘Digital Technologies’ curriculum in Australia. We hope that following our learning pathways will support the study of formal curricular and exam specifications in a fun and tangible way. As we continue to expand our catalogue of free learning resources, we expect our curriculum will grow and improve, and your input into that process will be vital.

Get involved

We’re proud to be part of a movement that aims to empower people to shape their world through digital technologies. We value the support of our community of makers, educators, volunteers, and enthusiasts. With this in mind, we’re interested to hear your thoughts on our digital making curriculum. Add your feedback to this form, or talk to us at one of the events that Raspberry Pi will attend in 2017.

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Join our workshops and talks at Bett 2017

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/workshops-talks-bett-2017/

Next week brings another opportunity for educators to visit the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Bett 2017, the huge annual EdTech event in London. We’ll be at ExCeL London from 25-28 January, and we’ll be running more than 50 workshops and talks over the four days. Whether you’re a school teacher or a community educator, there’s something for you: visit our stand (G460) to discover ways to bring the power of digital making to your classroom and beyond.

BROWSE OUR TALK AND WORKSHOP TIMETABLE

Last year’s survivors photo

What’s on

A BIG announcement in the Bett Show Arena

Our CEO Philip Colligan will be launching an exciting new free initiative to support educators, live in the Bett Show Arena at 13:25 on Wednesday 25 January. Philip will be joined by a panel of educators who are leading the movement for classroom computing and digital making.

One of our younger community members, Yasmin Bey, delivering a workshop session

Raspberry Pi Stand (G460) – Free workshops, talks, demos, and panel discussions

Find us at our STEAM Village stand (G460) to take part in free physical computing and STEAM workshops, as well as talks led by Raspberry Pi Foundation staff, Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, and other expert community members. We have a huge range of workshops running for all levels of ability, which will give you the opportunity to get hands-on with digital making and gain experience of using the Raspberry Pi in a variety of different ways.

There is no booking system for our workshops. You just need to browse our Bett Show 2017 Workshop Timetable and then turn up before the session. If you miss a workshop and need help with something, don’t worry: the team will be hosting special drop-in sessions at the end of each day to answer all your questions.

Workshop participants will get the chance to grab some exclusive goodies, including a special Educator’s Edition of our MagPi magazineWe also have an awesome maker project for you to take away this year: your very own Raspberry Pi badge, featuring a glowing LED! We’ll supply all the materials: you just need to come and take part in some good old-fashioned digital making.

You can be the proud maker of this badge if you visit our stand

These fantastic free resources will help to get you started with digital making and Raspberry Pi, learn more about our goals as a charity, and give you the confidence to teach others about physical computing.

Our staff members will also be on hand to chat to you about any questions you have about our educational initiatives. Here’s a quick list to get the cogs turning:

  • Astro Pi: our initiative to enable schools across Europe to send code into space
  • Code Club: our programme for setting up extra-curricular computing clubs in schools and community spaces
  • Online training: our new web-based courses for educators on the FutureLearn platform
  • Picademy: our flagship face-to-face training for educators in the UK and USA
  • Pioneers: a new initiative that sets digital making challenges for teams of UK teenagers (twelve- to 15-year-olds)
  • Skycademy: our programme for starting a near-space programme in your school using high-altitude balloons

Talks will be held on the STEAM village stage (pictured) and on our stand throughout Bett

STEAM village sessions

In addition to running workshops and talks on our own stand, we are also holding some sessions on the STEAM village stand next to ours:

Time Day Presenter Title Location
13:25 – 13:55 Wednesday Olympia Brown, Senior Programme Manager, Raspberry Pi Foundation Pioneers: engaging teenagers in digital making, project-based learning, and STEAM STEAM Village Stage
12:30 – 13:00 Thursday Carrie Anne Philbin, Director of Education, Raspberry Pi Foundation A digital making curriculum: bridging the STEAM skills gap through creativity and project-based learning STEAM Village Stage
16:10 – 16:40 Friday Panel chaired by Dr Lucy Rogers, Author, Designer, Maker, and Robot Wars Judge! These ARE the droids we’re looking for: how the robotics revolution is inspiring a generation of STEAM makers STEAM Village Stage
11:20 – 11:50 Saturday Dave Honess, Astro Pi Programme Manager, Raspberry Pi Foundation Code in space: engaging students in computer science STEAM Village Stage

 Raspberry Jam and Code Club @ Bett

For the second year running, we are taking over the Technology in HE Summit Space on Saturday 28 January to run two awesome events:

  1. A Raspberry Jam from 10:00 to 12:50. Led by the wonderful Raspberry Pi community, Raspberry Jams are a way to share ideas, collaborate, and learn about digital making and computer science. They take place all over the world, including at the Bett Show! Come along, share your project in our show-and-tell, take part in our workshops, and get help with a project from experts and community members. It’s fun for all the family! Register your interest here.
  2. A Code Club primer session from 13:00 to 15:00. Our regional coordinator for London and the East of England is holding a workshop with a team of young people to show you how to start a Code Club in your school. Come and take part in the live demos and get help with starting your own club.

We’re looking forward to the opportunity to speak to so many different educators from across the world. It’s really important to us to spend time with all of you face-to-face: we want to hear about the great things you’re doing, answer your questions, and learn about the way you work and the challenges you face so we can improve the things we do. We really do value your feedback enormously, so please don’t hesitate for a moment to come over and ask questions, query something, or just say hi! And if you have questions you’d like to ask us ahead of Bett, just leave us a comment below.

See you next week!

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Community Profile: Tim Richardson and Michael Horne

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/community-profile-tim-richardson-michael-horne/

This column is from The MagPi issue 50. 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.

Tim Richardson and Michael Horne

Tim and Michael

Category: Makers
Day job: Michael is a web developer, while Tim works as a performance architect.
Website

Michael Horne and Tim Richardson have become regular faces within the Raspberry Pi community, and with good reason. For those local to the Cambridge area, the pair are best known for running the city’s Raspberry Jam – The CamJam – as well as events such as the Birthday Bash and the successful Pi Wars, the next instalment of which is due in April 2017. They’re also responsible for many photos and videos you’ll have seen on our blog over the years.

Mike and Tim at Parliament.

On 8 September, Michael and Tim demonstrated some of their projects and kits at the #10MillionPi House of Commons celebrations

Those further afield may have found themself in possession of a CamJam EduKit from The Pi Hut. Available in several varieties, and accompanied by educational resources on the CamJam website, EduKits provide the components necessary for newcomers to the Raspberry Pi to understand physical computing. From sensors to traffic light LEDs, the affordable kits offer everyone the chance to get to grips with digital making, regardless of their skills or experience.

CamJam

From a small room at the Centre of Mathematical Sciences to multiple rooms and hundreds of attendees, the Cambridge Raspberry Jam continues to grow within the birthplace of the Pi. The EduKit range – providing everyone with the necessary components to learn LED coding, sensors, and more – is available via The Pi Hut.

And if that’s not enough, the online presence of Tim and Michael continues to permeate the social platforms of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Both are active within the Twittersphere: you’ll no doubt have shared a joke or received advice from either @Geeky_Tim or @recantha. And if you happen to look for information or updates on Raspberry Pi products, projects, or updates, Michael’s website is most likely to be sitting in your browser history.

Michael Horne music box

Michael’s Music Box is his favourite project: it’s a kit that fits neatly into his hand, allowing for the playback and distortion of notes through various button presses and dial twists.

For the pair, the Raspberry Pi was a subject of interest pre-launch, with both ordering one from the start. Tim, the eager tinkerer, began his Pi journey from delivery day, while Michael admits to letting his collect a little dust before finally diving in.

Tim Richardson Weather

Tim is most proud of this Weather Clock, a swish-looking display of numbers and icons that indicate the date and time, along with both current and forecast weather conditions

At first, Michael attended the Milton Keynes Raspberry Jam, learning to solder in order to begin work on a project, the Picorder. Having noticed the Cambridge Raspberry Jam would no longer be running in the home town of the Raspberry Pi, and ensuring he wouldn’t step on a few toes in the process, Michael decided to launch his own Jam at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. “It was so badly organised that I hadn’t even visited and seen the room beforehand”, he admits. “It was just 30 people at that first one!” This lack of organisational skills would soon be remedied by the introduction of Tim Richardson into the mix. Of future events, Tim notes, “With two of us doing the organisation, we were able to do a lot more. I wanted to get vendors to the event so people could buy stuff for their Pis.” They also put together workshops and, later, presentations. The workshops in turn led to the creation of the CamJam EduKit, a means for workshop attendees to take components home and continue their builds there.

Raspberry Pi Birthday Bash

Cake, project builds, and merriment: the Raspberry Pi Birthday Bash’s continued success draws people from across the globe to join the team in celebrating the
Raspberry Pi, the community, and the future.

The transition of the kits to The Pi Hut took place in July 2014, allowing for greater variety and fewer nights filling bags on the living room floor. More recently, the pair joined the Raspberry Pi team in celebration of the #10MillionPi milestone, bringing their projects to the Houses of Parliament to help introduce more people to the Raspberry Jam scene. And of their continued future within the community? The much-anticipated Pi Wars will be taking place over the first weekend in April 2017, offering all ages and abilities the chance to put their robotic creations to the test against a series of challenges.

Pi Wars

The popular robotics competition allows teams of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts to battle head-to-head in a series of non-destructive challenges. Rolling into its
third year, the next Pi Wars is set to run across the first weekend of April 2017.

 

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New online training courses: your questions answered

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/new-online-training-courses-your-questions-answered/

Train with Raspberry Pi anywhere in the world

We recently created two free online CPD training courses that are available to anyone, anywhere in the world. The courses will run alongside our current live training offerings, Picademy and Skycademy, and are facilitated by FutureLearn, a leading platform for online educational training.

Our courses begin on 20 February 2017, but you can sign up for both of them right now. To anticipate some of the questions you might have about them, we’ve put together this handy set of FAQs.

If you want to sign up, go to the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s page on FutureLearn.

Who can I speak to about online training?

Send us an email at [email protected] and one of the teacher training team at Raspberry Pi will get back to you.

What can I expect from the two courses that start in February 2017?

Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python: this four-week course will introduce you to physical computing, showing you how easy it is to create a system that responds to and controls the physical world, using computer programs running on the Raspberry Pi. You’ll apply your knowledge to a series of challenges, including controlling an LED with Python, using a button press to control a circuit, and making a game with buttons and LEDs. If you’re a teacher, you’ll also have the chance to develop ideas for using the Raspberry Pi and Python in your classroom, and to connect with a network of other educators.

Teaching Programming in Primary Schools: this four-week course will provide a comprehensive introduction to programming, and is designed for primary or K-5 teachers who are not subject specialists. Over four weeks, we’ll introduce you to key programming concepts. You’ll have the chance to apply your understanding of them through projects, both unplugged and on a computer, using Scratch as the programming language. Discover common mistakes and pitfalls, and develop strategies to fix them.

How long will the courses take?

Both courses are four weeks long. Each week has around two hours of content for learners to work through. It’s absolutely fine to take more time to reflect and learn at your own pace, though.

Do the courses cost anything?

No, the courses are completely free. If you want a printed certificate to prove that you have completed the course, this is available through FutureLearn for a small fee.

Do I need to be an educator to sign up?

Everyone is welcome to sign up for the courses, though they will be of particular relevance to educators.

Teaching Programming in Primary Schools is designed for non-subject-specialist primary or K-5 teachers. You don’t need any prior experience of programming to take part.

Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python is designed for anyone interested in physical computing. It will be of particular use to non-subject-specialist teachers, computing teachers, and design and technology teachers who are interested in using the Raspberry Pi and Python in their classroom.

I don’t know anything about digital making. Can I still sign up?

Yes! You don’t need any prior experience of programming or physical computing to take part.

Do I need any specific kit to take part?

To take part in Teaching Programming in Primary Schools, you’ll need a computer and access to Scratch.

To take part in Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python, you’ll need:

  • a Raspberry Pi (any of the models from the B+ through to Pi 3 will be fine)
  • a micro SD card (8GB minimum) with our Raspbian operating system installed
  • a monitor and HDMI cable (or VGA adaptor)
  • a USB keyboard and mouse
  • a 400-point breadboard
  • three LEDs
  • a button
  • a buzzer
  • some 47Ω resistors
  • jumper cables

You can purchase the last six items on the above list as a bundle in the CamJam Edukit 1.

What if I have questions about using a Raspberry Pi?

You can find answers to questions about getting started with Raspberry Pi on our help page.

Where do I find resources to use the Raspberry Pi in the classroom?

We provide a wide selection of free resources for teaching, learning, and making on our Resources pages.

How do I apply for Picademy, the Foundation’s face-to-face training programme?

Picademy is a two-day course that allows educators to experience what they can achieve with a little help and lots of imagination. Through a series of workshops, we introduce a range of engaging ways to deliver computing in classrooms all over the world. Highlights include using physical computing to control electronic components like LEDs and buttons, coding music with Sonic Pi, and terraforming the world of Minecraft. On the second day, attendees have the opportunity to apply what they learned on the first day by developing their own project ideas, learning from each other and our experts.

You can find out more about our Picademy courses in this post.

A teacher attending Picademy laughs as she works through an activity

Raspberry Pi’s free training makes educators happy

We hope this has answered any questions you have, but remember you can always contact us at [email protected]. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now, and get ready to get learning!

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Announcing our new online training series

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/announcing-our-new-online-training-series/

At the end of this week, with our final Picademy of 2016 taking place in Texas, we will have trained over 540 educators in the US and the UK this year, something of which we’re immensely proud. Our free face-to-face training has proved hugely popular: on average, we receive three eligible applications for each available place! However, this model of delivery is not without its limitations: after seeing our Picademy attendees getting excited on Twitter, we often get questions like: “Why haven’t you run a Picademy near me yet? When are you coming to train us?”

Cartoon: an apparently clothes-less man sits at a desk with a keyboard, monitor and Raspberry Pi, on a tiny sandy island surrounded by blue sea. A stick figure wearing a Pi T-shirt waits under a palm tree beside him to be taught about computing using Raspberry Pi. A shark repeatedly circles their island.

We grew frustrated at having to tell people that we didn’t have plans to provide Picademy in their region in the foreseeable future, so we decided to find a way to reach educators around the world with a more accessible training format.

We’re delighted to announce a new way for people to learn about digital making from Raspberry Pi: two free online CPD training courses, available anywhere in the world. The courses will run alongside our face-to-face training offerings (Picademy, Skycademy, and Code Club Teacher Training), and are facilitated by FutureLearn, a leading platform for online educational training. This new free training supports our commitment to President Obama’s Computer Science For All initiative, and we’re particularly pleased to be able to announce it just as Computer Science Education Week is getting underway. Here’s the lowdown on what you can expect:

Course 1: Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python

In the foreground, a Raspberry Pi computer with a small "traffic lights" board attached; it has red, yellow and green LEDs, and the yellow one is lit. In the background, various electronics components, a mouse and a keyboard.

This four-week course will introduce you to physical computing, showing you how easy it is to create a system that responds to and controls the physical world, using computer programs running on the Raspberry Pi. You’ll apply your new-found knowledge to a series of challenges, including controlling an LED with Python, using a button press to control a circuit, and making a button and LED game.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll also have the chance to develop ideas for using Raspberry Pi and Python in your classroom, and to connect with a network of other educators.

Course 2: Teaching Programming in Primary Schools

A boy and a girl aged around 9-11 years sit at a desk in a classroom, focussed on the activity they are doing using laptops. From the girl's screen we can see that she is programming in Scratch. A man sits beside the boy, helping him with his work.

This four-week course will provide a comprehensive introduction to programming, and is designed for primary or K-5 teachers who are not subject specialists. Over four weeks, we’ll introduce you to key programming concepts. You’ll have the chance to apply your understanding of them through projects, both unplugged and on a computer, using Scratch as the programming language. Discover common mistakes and pitfalls, and develop strategies to fix them.

Registration opens today, with the courses themselves starting mid-February 2017. We hope they will inspire a new army of enthusiastic makers around the world!

Visit our online training page on FutureLearn.

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Kosovo’s First Pi Wars

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/kosovos-first-pi-wars/

British Engineer Andy Moxon recently contacted us to highlight a Pi Wars event he was organising in Kosovo.

I write to inform you about an event I am running akin to Pi Wars, here in the newly independent country of Kosovo, South-East Europe.

I am a British engineer and have been living in Kosovo as a volunteer for the last two and a half years.  For the past eight months I have been working with two groups of twelve to fifteen year old students in a club we have called ‘Young Innovators’.  It is an after-school club centred around the Raspberry Pi.  We have mainly focused on physical computing, with the aim of building Raspberry Pi powered robots, similar to those that compete in Pi Wars.

Eager to see the outcome of the event, Liz asked if he would write a blog post for us and, being the lovely chap he is, Andy agreed. We think Mike and Tim, creators of the original Pi Wars, will be thrilled to see this.

Here’s his rundown of the successful event:

Many people are confused about the country of Kosovo, and there’s much that could be written here to rectify this – perhaps most important to us is the fact that it declared independence from Serbia just eight years ago. However, even more importantly (for this blog at least!), the country is not without Python coding, physical computing, robots and a good number of Raspberry Pis.

Since the start of 2016, I’ve been running an after-school club called ‘Young Innovators’, diving into the world of the Raspberry Pi, to prepare for our (much smaller) version of Pi Wars, happening this December. Based in the small town of Shtime, the club aims to bring to life maths and physics, while also teaching the students programming and robotics.

Kosovo Pi Wars

In one sense our robots are pretty standard. A single Raspberry Pi Zero is powered by a thin mobile phone power bank, and four AA batteries power two motors via a L293D motor-controller chip. At the front, we have a HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensor and two infra-red line sensors underneath. Additionally, we use two additional infra-red sensors to count wheel revolutions, having painted white stripes on our wheels using nail polish! This opens the robots up to some interesting autonomous challenges, such as the three-point turn, which was included in the last Pi Wars competition.

Kosovo Pi Wars

An area which has caused a lot of excitement in the club has been the recent introduction of an Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer.  Using FreeCAD (available for the Pi2 and above) we have designed the chassis of the robots from nothing. This has been a tough but worthwhile exercise, demonstrating the wonders of 3D prototyping.

Kosovo Pi Wars

At the time of writing, the robots have been screwed together and the electronics connected. We’re now in the thick of programming using Pygame (now integral to Python), preparing our eight robots for the battle.

Kosovo Pi Wars

Big thanks must go to the Raspberry Pi blogging community.  I first used a Raspberry Pi just a year ago and, without the dedication of excellent bloggers, we would never have been able to reach this stage.

You can follow our progress on our blog: www.younginnovators-ks.com

See? Told you he was a lovely chap!

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Hour of Code 2016

Post Syndicated from Laura Sach original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/hour-of-code-2016/

What could you do in an hour? Perhaps you could watch an episode of a TV show, have a luxurious bath, or even tidy the house a bit! But what if you could spend an hour learning a skill that might influence the future of your career, and perhaps your whole life?

hour-of-code-header

The Hour of Code is a worldwide initiative which aims to get as many people as possible to have a go at programming computers. Our aim is to put digital making into the hands of as many people as possible, so here at Pi Towers we have cooked up some exciting projects for you to try, all of which can be completed in an hour.

Have a go at making a version of a whoopee cushion (a favourite Christmas cracker toy in my house) using physical computing, invent your own lyrics for The Twelve Days of Christmas, or simulate your cat floating in space. Many of the projects don’t even require a Raspberry Pi: you can get started with Scratch just by visiting a website.

Physical computing projects

Physical computing projects
Make a fast-paced reaction game with a Pi and an Explorer HAT

Scratch projects

Ada's Poetry Generator
Program your own animation in Scratch

Astro Pi projects

Sense HAT Random Sparkles
Simulate the effects of weightlessness in space using Scratch

Programming projects

N days of Christmas
Generate cat memes with JavaScript



We are also holding a digital making event at Pi Towers on Wednesday 7 December: if you can travel to Cambridge, then register, join in and achieve your hour of code!

Whether you are a child or an adult, it is never too late to start learning to code. When I was a teacher, I always loved participating in the Hour of Code: the students couldn’t quite believe they were given an hour to do something they would willingly do for fun. What they didn’t know is that the teachers secretly had a lot of fun testing out the projects too, although some of the resulting sounds did cause a few raised eyebrows in the staff room!

Once you’ve started coding, you might not want to stop, so head over to our resources section for more inspirational projects to tackle. Intrepid teachers can download the second issue of the MagPi Educator’s Edition to find out how to take things further in the classroom. The sky’s the limit! Well, actually, if you’re doing one of our Astro Pi projects, space is the limit…

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