We’re delighted to announce that our special judges — Eben Upton, Hayaatun Sillem, Limor Fried, Mitch Resnick, and Tim Peake — have chosen their favourite projects from the Coolest Projects online showcase!
Young tech creators from 39 countries are part of the showcase, including from Ireland, Australia, Palestine, UK, USA, India, and Indonesia. In total, you’ll find an incredible 560 projects from 775 young creators in the showcase gallery.
Our judges have been amazed and inspired by all the young creators’ projects, and they want to highlight a few as their favourites!
Eben Upton’s favourites
Eben Upton is a founder of our organisation, one of the inventors of the Raspberry Pi computer, and CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading. Watch Eben’s favourites.
Haya: Bobby ‘A Platformer’
Kaushal: Diabetic Retinopathy Detector
Zaahra, Eesa: Easy Sylheti
Mahmoud: Fighting Against Coronavirus
Oisín: MiniGolf In Python
Artash, Arushi: The Masked Scales: The Sonification of the Impact
Hayaatun Sillem’s favourites projects
Dr Hayaatun Sillem is the CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, which brings together the UK’s leading engineers and technologists to promote engineering excellence for the benefit of society. Watch Hayaatun’s favourites.
Sara, Batool, Rahaf, Nancy: Children Body Language
Lars: Colourbird PicoBello
Alisa, Michelle: Green Coins
Marah: My School Website
Raluca: Protect the Planet!
Rhea: The Amazing Photo Filter
Mitch Resnick’s favourites
Mitch Resnick is Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, and his Lifelong Kindergarten research group develops and supports the Scratch programming software and online community! Watch Mitch’s favourites.
We are thrilled that five fantastic people will contribute to the Coolest Projects online showcase: Tim Peake, Limor Fried, Mitch Resnick, Hayaatun Sillem, and Eben Upton are going to be our special judges and choose their favourite projects from among all the entries from young tech creators in our global community.
Meet the coolest judges!
Tim Peake is a British ESA astronaut and a passionate advocate for STEM education. Tim played a huge part in the first Astro Pi Challenge in 2015, and he has helped us spread the word about the work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation ever since.
“By taking part in Coolest Projects, young creators get to share their ideas with the world, and their peers. Whether it’s creating something for home, the planet, or for their school or community — it’s a great opportunity to share their hopes and dreams for the future!” — Tim Peake
Limor ‘Ladyada’ Fried is an MIT engineer and the founder and owner of Adafruit, a company that creates hardware and educational resources for anyone interested in digital making. Limor personally selects, tests, and approves all the tools, equipment, and electronics on offer by Adafruit.
“Coolest Projects is a fantastic opportunity for young people to take part in the world’s leading technology showcase and to celebrate all the hard work and ideas from the community — all from home!” – Limor Fried
Mitch Resnick is Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab, and his Lifelong Kindergarten research group develops the Scratch programming software and online community! His life’s passion is developing new technologies and activities to engage young people in creative learning experiences.
Hayaatun Sillem is the CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, which brings together the UK’s leading engineers and technologists to promote engineering excellence for the benefit of society. She also has a PhD in cancer research!
Eben Upton is a founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and one of the inventors of the Raspberry Pi computer. As the CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading Ltd, he oversees the company, including the development of all our hardware.
Register a project today!
If a young person you know is making anything with technology — and we mean anything, from robot to smartphone app to video game to Scratch animation to web page about their pet — then we invite them to take part in the Coolest Projects online showcase.
We welcome all works-in-progress and finished projects from anyone aged up to 18!
To find out more and register a project by the 28 June deadline, visit coolestproject.org.
Engineering has always been important, but never more so than now, as we face global challenges and need more brilliant young minds to solve them. Tim Peake, ESA astronaut and one of our Members, knows this well, and is a big advocate of engineering, and of STEM more broadly.
Tim spoke about the European Astro Pi Challenge at today’s award ceremony
Thank you, Major Tim
Tim played a huge part in the first Astro Pi Challenge, and he has helped us spread the word about Astro Pi and the work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation ever since.
Earlier this year, Tim was awarded the 2019 Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke Award for his work promoting engineering to the public, following a nomination by Raspberry Pi co-founder and Fellow of the Academy Pete Lomas. Pete says:
“As part of Tim Peake’s Principia mission, he personally spearheaded the largest education and outreach initiative ever undertaken by an ESA astronaut. Tim actively connects space exploration with the requirement for space engineering.
As a founder of Raspberry Pi, I was thrilled that Tim acted as a personal ambassador for the Astro Pi programme. This gives young people across Europe the opportunity to develop their computing skills by writing computer programs that run on the specially adapted Raspberry Pi computers onboard the ISS.” – Pete Lomas
Today, Tim received the Rooke Award in person, at a celebratory event held at the Science Museum in London.
Royal Academy of Engineering CEO Dr Hayaatun Sillem presents Tim with the 2019 Rooke Award for public engagement with engineering, in recognition of his nationwide promotion of engineering and space
Four hundred young people got to attend the event with him, including two winning Astro Pi teams. Congratulations to Tim, and congratulations to those Astro Pi winners who got to meet a real-life astronaut!
Astro Pi is going from strength to strength
Since Tim’s mission on the ISS, the Astro Pi Challenge has evolved, and in collaboration with ESA Education, we now offer it in the form of two missions for young people every year:
Mission Zero, which allows young people to write a short Python programme to display a message to the astronauts aboard the ISS. This mission can be completed in an afternoon, all eligible entries are guaranteed to run in space, and you can submit entries until 20 March 2020. More about Astro Pi: Mission Zero
Mission Space Lab, which challenges teams of young people to design and create code to run a scientific experiment aboard the ISS using the Astro Pis’ sensors. This mission is competitive and runs over eight months, and you need to send in your team’s experiment idea by 25 October 2019. More about Astro Pi: Mission Space Lab
If you’re thinking “I wish this sort of thing had been around when I was young…”
…then help the young people in your life participate! Mission Zero is really simple and requires no prior coding knowledge, neither from you, nor from the young people in your team. Or your team could take part in Mission Space Lab — you’ve still got 10 days to send us your team’s experiment idea! And then, who knows, maybe your team will get to meet Tim Peake one day… or even become astronauts themselves!
First, let me tell you why this partnership matters to me. As a child growing up in North Wales in the 1980s, Scouting changed my life. My time with 2nd Rhyl provided me with countless opportunities to grow and develop new skills. It taught me about teamwork and community in ways that continue to shape my decisions today.
As my own kids (now seven and ten) have joined Scouting, I’ve seen the same opportunities opening up for them, and like so many parents, I’ve come back to the movement as a volunteer to support their local section. So this is deeply personal for me, and the same is true for many of my colleagues at the Raspberry Pi Foundation who in different ways have been part of the Scouting movement.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Scouting and Raspberry Pi share many of the same values. We are both community-led movements that aim to help young people develop the skills they need for life. We are both powered by an amazing army of volunteers who give their time to support that mission. We both care about inclusiveness, and pride ourselves on combining fun with learning by doing.
Raspberry Pi started life in 2008 as a response to the problem that too many young people were growing up without the skills to create with technology. Our goal is that everyone should be able to harness the power of computing and digital technologies, for work, to solve problems that matter to them, and to express themselves creatively.
In 2012 we launched our first product, the world’s first $35 computer. Just six years on, we have sold over 20 million Raspberry Pi computers and helped kickstart a global movement for digital skills.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation now runs the world’s largest network of volunteer-led computing clubs (Code Clubs and CoderDojos), and creates free educational resources that are used by millions of young people all over the world to learn how to create with digital technologies. And lots of what we are able to achieve is because of partnerships with fantastic organisations that share our goals. For example, through our partnership with the European Space Agency, thousands of young people have written code that has run on two Raspberry Pi computers that Tim Peake took to the International Space Station as part of his Mission Principia.
Today we’re launching the new Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge to help tens of thousands of young people learn how to create with technology through Scouting. Over the past few months, we’ve been working with the Scouts all over the UK to develop and test the new badge requirements, along with guidance, project ideas, and resources that really make them work for Scouting. We know that we need to get two things right: relevance and accessibility.
Relevance is all about making sure that the activities and resources we provide are a really good fit for Scouting and Scouting’s mission to equip young people with skills for life. From the digital compass to nature cameras and the reinvented wide game, we’ve had a lot of fun thinking about ways we can bring to life the crucial role that digital technologies can play in the outdoors and adventure.
We are beyond excited to be launching a new partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which will help tens of thousands of young people learn digital skills for life.
We also know that there are great opportunities for Scouts to use digital technologies to solve social problems in their communities, reflecting the movement’s commitment to social action. Today we’re launching the first set of project ideas and resources, with many more to follow over the coming weeks and months.
Accessibility is about providing every Scout leader with the confidence, support, and kit to enable them to offer the Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge to their young people. A lot of work and care has gone into designing activities that require very little equipment: for example, activities at Stages 1 and 2 can be completed with a laptop without access to the internet. For the activities that do require kit, we will be working with Scout Stores and districts to make low-cost kit available to buy or loan.
We’re producing accessible instructions, worksheets, and videos to help leaders run sessions with confidence, and we’ll also be planning training for leaders. We will work with our network of Code Clubs and CoderDojos to connect them with local sections to organise joint activities, bringing both kit and expertise along with them.
Today’s launch is just the start. We’ll be developing our partnership over the next few years, and we can’t wait for you to join us in getting more young people making things with technology.
Did you realise the Sense HAT has been available for over two years now? Used by astronauts on the International Space Station, the exact same hardware is available to you on Earth. With a new Astro Pi challenge just launched, it’s time for a retrospective/roundup/inspiration post about this marvellous bit of kit.
The Sense HAT on a Pi in full glory
The Sense HAT explained
We developed our scientific add-on board to be part of the Astro Pi computers we sent to the International Space Station with ESA astronaut Tim Peake. For a play-by-play of Astro Pi’s history, head to the blog archive.
Just to remind you, this is all the cool stuff our engineers have managed to fit onto the HAT:
Use the LED matrix and joystick to recreate games such as Pong or Flappy Bird. Of course, you could also add sensor input to your game: code an egg drop game or a Magic 8 Ball that reacts to how the device moves.
It’s also possible to incorporate Sense HAT data into your digital art! The Python Turtle module and the Processing language are both useful tools for creating beautiful animations based on real-world information.
A Sense HAT project that also uses this principle is Giorgio Sancristoforo’s Tableau, a ‘generative music album’. This device creates music according to the sensor data:
“There is no doubt that, as music is removed by the phonographrecord from the realm of live production and from the imperative of artistic activity and becomes petrified, it absorbs into itself, in this process of petrification, the very life that would otherwise vanish.”
Our online resource shows you how to record the information your HAT picks up. Next you can analyse and graph your data using Mathematica, which is included for free on Raspbian. This resource walks you through how this software works.
But you can also stick to terrestrial scientific investigations. For example, why not build a weather station and share its data on your own web server or via Weather Underground?
Your code in space!
If you’re a student or an educator in one of the 22 ESA member states, you can get a team together to enter our 2017-18 Astro Pi challenge. There are two missions to choose from, including Mission Zero: follow a few guidelines, and your code is guaranteed to run in space!
Thanks to the very talented sooperdavid, creator of some of the wonderful animations known as RealLifeDoodles, Thomas Pesquet and Astro Pi Ed have been turned into one of the cutest videos on the internet.
Taking often comical video clips, those with a know-how and skill level that outweighs my own in spades add faces and emotions to inanimate objects, creating what the social media world refers to as a Real Life Doodle. From disappointed exercise balls to cannibalistic piles of leaves, these video clips are both cute and sometimes, though thankfully not always, a little heartbreaking.
Watch letmegofree GIF by sooperdave on Gfycat. Discover more reallifedoodles GIFs on Gfycat
Our own RealLifeDoodle
A few months back, when Programme Manager Dave Honess, better known to many as SpaceDave, sent me these Astro Pivideos for me to upload to YouTube, a small plan hatched in my brain. For in the midst of the video, and pointed out to me by SpaceDave – “I kind of love the way he just lets the unit drop out of shot” – was the most adorable sight as poor Ed drifted off into the great unknown of the ISS. Finding that I have this odd ability to consider many inanimate objects as ‘cute’, I wanted to see whether we could turn poor Ed into a RealLifeDoodle.
Heading to the Reddit RealLifeDoodle subreddit, I sent moderator sooperdavid a private message, asking if he’d be so kind as to bring our beloved Ed to life.
Unless you’re new to the world of the Raspberry Pi blog (in which case, welcome!), you’ll probably know about the Astro Pi Challenge. But for those who are unaware, let me break it down for you.
In 2015, two weeks before British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake journeyed to the International Space Station, two Raspberry Pis were sent up to await his arrival. Clad in 6063-grade aluminium flight cases and fitted with their own Sense HATs and cameramodules, the Astro Pis Ed and Izzy were ready to receive the winning codes from school children in the UK. The following year, this time maintained by French ESA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet, children from every ESA member country got involved to send even more code to the ISS.
This weekend saw my first anniversary at Raspberry Pi, and this blog marks my 100th post written for the company. It would have been easy to let one milestone or the other slide had they not come along hand in hand, begging for some sort of acknowledgement.
The day Liz decided to keep me
So here it is!
Joining the crew
Prior to my position in the Comms team as Social Media Editor, my employment history was largely made up of retail sales roles and, before that, bit parts in theatrical backstage crews. I never thought I would work for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, despite its firm position on my Top Five Awesome Places I’d Love to Work list. How could I work for a tech company when my knowledge of tech stretched as far as dismantling my Game Boy when I was a kid to see how the insides worked, or being the one friend everyone went to when their phone didn’t do what it was meant to do? I never thought about the other side of the Foundation coin, or how I could find my place within the hidden workings that turned the cogs that brought everything together.
12 Likes, 1 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “… when suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a new job with a dream company. #raspberrypi #positive…”
A little luck, a well-written though humorous resumé, and a meeting with Liz and Helen later, I found myself the newest member of the growing team at Pi Towers.
Ticking items off the Bucket List
I thought it would be fun to point out some of the chances I’ve had over the last twelve months and explain how they fit within the world of Raspberry Pi. After all, we’re about more than just a $35 credit card-sized computer. We’re a charitable Foundation made up of some wonderful and exciting projects, people, and goals.
High altitude ballooning (HAB)
Skycademy offers educators in the UK the chance to come to Pi Towers Cambridge to learn how to plan a balloon launch, build a payload with onboard Raspberry Pi and Camera Module, and provide teachers with the skills needed to take their students on an adventure to near space, with photographic evidence to prove it.
332 Likes, 5 Comments – Raspberry Pi (@raspberrypifoundation) on Instagram: “All the screens you need to hunt balloons. . We have our landing point and are now rushing to…”
I was fortunate enough to join Sky Captain James, along with Dan Fisher, Dave Akerman, and Steve Randell on a test launch back in August last year. Testing out new kit that James had still been tinkering with that morning, we headed to a field in Elsworth, near Cambridge, and provided Facebook Live footage of the process from payload build to launch…to the moment when our balloon landed in an RAF shooting range some hours later.
“Can we have our balloon back, please, mister?”
Having enjoyed watching Blue Peter presenters send up a HAB when I was a child, I marked off the event on my bucket list with a bold tick, and I continue to show off the photographs from our Raspberry Pi as it reached near space.
13 Likes, 2 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “Spend the day launching/chasing a high-altitude balloon. Look how high it went!!! #HAB #ballooning…”
You can find more information on Skycademy here, plus more detail about our test launch day in Dan’s blog post here.
Dear Raspberry Pi Friends…
My desk is slowly filling with stuff: notes, mementoes, and trinkets that find their way to me from members of the community, both established and new to the life of Pi. There are thank you notes, updates, and more from people I’ve chatted to online as they explore their way around the world of Pi.
By plugging myself into social media on a daily basis, I often find hidden treasures that go unnoticed due to the high volume of tags we receive on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. Kids jumping off chairs in delight as they complete their first Scratch project, newcomers to the Raspberry Pi shedding a tear as they make an LED blink on their kitchen table, and seasoned makers turning their hobby into something positive to aid others.
It’s wonderful to join in the excitement of people discovering a new skill and exploring the community of Raspberry Pi makers: I’ve been known to shed a tear as a result.
Meeting educators at Bett, chatting to teen makers at makerspaces, and sharing a cupcake or three at the birthday party have been incredible opportunities to get to know you all.
You’re all brilliant.
The Queens of Robots, both shoddy and otherwise
Last year we welcomed the Queen of Shoddy Robots, Simone Giertz to Pi Towers, where we chatted about making, charity, and space while wandering the colleges of Cambridge and hanging out with flat Tim Peake.
Ahhhh!!! I still can’t believe I got to hang out and make stuff at the @Raspberry_Pi towers!! Thank you thank you!!
Meeting such wonderful, exciting, and innovative YouTubers was a fantastic inspiration to work on my own projects and to try to do more to help others discover ways to connect with tech through their own interests.
Those ‘wow’ moments
Every Raspberry Pi project I see on a daily basis is awesome. The moment someone takes an idea and does something with it is, in my book, always worthy of awe and appreciation. Whether it be the aforementioned flashing LED, or sending Raspberry Pis to the International Space Station, if you have turned your idea into reality, I applaud you.
Some of my favourite projects over the last twelve months have not only made me say “Wow!”, they’ve also inspired me to want to do more with myself, my time, and my growing maker skill.
Great to meet @alexjrassic today and nerd out about @Raspberry_Pi and weather balloons and @Space_Station and all things #edtech ⛅🛰🤖
Projects such as Museum in a Box, a wonderful hands-on learning aid that brings the world to the hands of children across the globe, honestly made me tear up as I placed a miniaturised 3D-printed Virginia Woolf onto a wooden box and gasped as she started to speak to me.
Jill Ogle’s Let’s Robot project had me in awe as Twitch-controlled Pi robots tackled mazes, attempted to cut birthday cake, or swung to slap Jill in the face over webcam.
19 Likes, 1 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “Made a Gif Cam using a Raspberry Pi, Pi camera, button and a couple LEDs. . When you press the…”
The next twelve months
Despite Eben jokingly firing me near-weekly across Twitter, or Philip giving me the ‘Dad glare’ when I pull wires and buttons out of a box under my desk to start yet another project, I don’t plan on going anywhere. Over the next twelve months, I hope to continue discovering awesome Pi builds, expanding on my own skills, and curating some wonderful projects for you via the Raspberry Pi blog, the Raspberry Pi Weekly newsletter, my submissions to The MagPi Magazine, and the occasional video interview or two.
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for joining me on the ride!
In October last year, with the European Space Agency and CNES, we launched the first ever European Astro Pi challenge. We asked students from all across Europe to write code for the flight of French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Proxima mission. Today, we are very excited to announce the winners! First of all, though, we have a very special message from Thomas Pesquet himself, which comes all the way from space…
French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet floats in to thank all participants in the European Astro Pi challenge. In October last year, together with the European Space Agency, we launched the first ever European Astro Pi challenge for the flight of French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of mission Proxima.
Thomas also recorded a video in French: you can click here to see it and to enjoy some more of his excellent microgravity acrobatics.
A bit of background
This year’s competition expands on our previous work with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, in which, together with the UK Space Agency and ESA, we invited UK students to design software experiments to run on board the ISS.
Astro Pi Vis (AKA Ed) on board the ISS. Image from ESA.
In 2015, we built two space-hardened Raspberry Pi units, or Astro Pis, to act as the platform on which to run the students’ code. Affectionately nicknamed Ed and Izzy, the units were launched into space on an Atlas V rocket, arriving at the ISS a few days before Tim Peake. He had a great time running all of the programs, and the data collected was transmitted back to Earth so that the winners could analyse their results and share them with the public.
The European challenge provides the opportunity to design code to be run in space to school students from every ESA member country. To support the participants, we worked with ESA and CPC to design, manufacture, and distribute several hundred free Astro Pi activity kits to the teams who registered. Further support for teachers was provided in the form of three live webinars, a demonstration video, and numerous free educational resources.
The Astro Pi activity kit used by participants in the European challenge.
Thomas Pesquet assigned two missions to the teams:
A primary mission, for which teams needed to write code to detect when the crew are working in the Columbus module near the Astro Pi units.
A secondary mission, for which teams needed to come up with their own scientific investigation and write the code to execute it.
The deadline for code submissions was 28 February 2017, with the judging taking place the following week. We can now reveal which schools will have the privilege of having their code uploaded to the ISS and run in space.
The proud winners!
Everyone produced great work and the judges found it really tough to narrow the entries down. In addition to the winning submissions, there were a number of teams who had put a great deal of work into their projects, and whose entries have been awarded ‘Highly Commended’ status. These teams will also have their code run on the ISS.
We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who participated. Massive congratulations are due to the winners! We will upload your code digitally using the space-to-ground link over the next few weeks. Your code will be executed, and any files created will be downloaded from space and returned to you via email for analysis.
In no particular order, the winners are:
@stroteam, Institut de Genech, Hauts-de-France
Wierzbinski, École à la maison, Occitanie
Les Marsilyens, École J. M. Marsily, PACA
MauriacSpaceCoders, Lycée François Mauriac, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Ici-bas, École de Saint-André d’Embrun, PACA
Les Astrollinaires, Lycée général et technologique Guillaume Apollinaire, PACA
ALTAÏR, Lycée Albert Claveille, Nouvelle Aquitaine
GalaXess Reloaded, Lycée Saint-Cricq, Nouvelle Aquitaine
Les CM de Neffiès, École Louis Authie, Occitanie
Équipe Sciences, Collège Léonce Bourliaguet, Nouvelle Aquitaine
Maurois ICN, Lycée André Maurois, Normandie
Space Project SP4, Lycée Saint-Paul IV, Île de la Réunion
4eme2 Gymnase Jean Sturm, Gymnase Jean Sturm, Grand Est
Astro Pascal dans les étoiles, École Pascal, Île-de-France
I enjoy projects that can be made using items from around the home. Add a Raspberry Pi and a few lines of code, and great joy can be had from producing something smart, connected and/or just plain silly.
The concept of the IoT Smart Lobby Welcoming Music System fits into this category. Take a speaker, add a Raspberry Pi and a PIR sensor (both staples of any maker household, and worthwhile investments for the budding builder), and you can create a motion-sensor welcome system for your home or office.
With this project, you will be able to automate a welcoming music for either your smart home or your smart office. As long as someone is around, the music will keep playing your favorite playlist at home or a welcome music to greet your customers or business partners while they wait in the lobby of your office.
Their build allows you to use Telegram Bot to control the music played through their speaker. The music begins when movement is sensed, and you can control what happens next.
It’s a great build for playing information for visitors or alerting you to an intrusion.
Tim Peake Welcoming Committee
A few months back, I made something similar in the lobby at Pi Towers: I hid a sensor under our cardboard cutout of ESA astronaut Tim Peake. Visitors walking into the lobby triggered the sensor, and were treated to the opening music from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Sadly, with the meeting rooms across the lobby in constant use, the prank didn’t last long.
In honour of the #Principia anniversary, I pimped out cardboard @astro_timpeake at @Raspberry_Pi Towers. Listen. https://t.co/MBUOjrARtI
If you’re curious, the Christmas tree should be a clue as to why Tim is dressed like a nativity angel.
The Homebrew Edition
If you’re like me, you learn best by doing. Our free resources allow you to develop new skills as you build. You can then blend the skills you have learned to create your own interesting projects. I was very new to digital making when I put together the music sensor in the lobby. The skills I had developed by following step-by-step project tutorials provided the foundations for something new and original.
Why not make your own welcoming system? The process could teach you new skills, and develop your understanding of the Raspberry Pi. If you’d like to have a go, I’d suggest trying out the Parent Detector. This will show you how to use a PIR sensor with your Raspberry Pi. Once you understand that process, try the Burping Jelly Baby project. This will teach you how to tell your Raspberry Pi when to play an MP3 based on a trigger, such as the poke of a finger or the detection of movement.
From there, you should have all the tools you need to make a speaker system that plays an MP3 when someone or something approaches. Why not have a go this weekend? If you do, tell us about your final build in the comments below.
By any measure, the Raspberry Pi Foundation had a fantastic 2016. We ended the year with over 11 million Raspberry Pi computers sold, millions of people using our learning resources, almost 1,000 Certified Educators in the UK and US, 75,000 children regularly attending over 5,000 Code Clubs in the UK, hundreds of Raspberry Jams taking place all over the world, code written by schoolkids running in space (yes, space), and much, much more.
Fantastic to see 5,000 active Code Clubs in the UK, helping over 75,000 young people learn to code. https://t.co/OyShrUzAhI @Raspberry_Pi https://t.co/luFj1qgzvQ
As I’ve said before, what we achieve is only possible thanks to the amazing community of makers, educators, volunteers, and young people all over the world who share our mission and support our work. You’re all awesome: thank you.
So here we are, just over a week into the New Year, and I thought it might be a good time to share with you some of what we’ve got planned for 2017.
Young digital makers
At the core of our mission is getting more young people excited about computing, and learning how to make things with computers. That was the original inspiration for the Raspberry Pi computer and it remains our number-one objective.
One of the ways we do that is through Code Club, a network of after-school clubs for 9- 11-year-olds run by teachers and volunteers. It’s already one of the largest networks of after-school clubs in the world, and this year we’ll be working with our existing partners in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Ukraine, as well as finding more partners in more countries, to bring Code Club to many more children.
This year also sees the launch of Pioneers, our new programme for teen digital makers. It’s built around a series of challenges that will inspire young people to make things with technology and share their makes with the world. Check out the first challenge here, and keep watching the hashtag #MakeYourIdeas across your favourite social media platforms.
UPDATE – The first challenge is now LIVE. Head here for more information https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCUzza7LJog Woohoo! Get together, get inspired, and get thinking. We’re looking for Pioneers to use technology to make something awesome. Get together in a team or on your own, post online to show us how you’re getting on, and then show the world your build when you’re done.
We’re also expanding our space programme Astro Pi, with 250 teams across Europe currently developing code that will be run on the ISS by ESA French Astronaut Thomas Pesquet. And, building on our Weather Station project, we’re excited to be developing new ideas for citizen science programmes that get more young people involved in computing.
British ESA astronaut Tim Peake is safely back on Earth now, but French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is onboard the ISS, keen to see what students from all over Europe can do with the Astro Pi units too.
Another big part of our work is supporting educators who are bringing computing and digital making into the classroom, and this year we’re going to be doing even more to help them.
We’ll continue to grow our community of official Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, with Picademy training programmes in the UK and US. Watch out for those dates coming soon. We’re also opening up our educator training to a much wider audience through a series of online courses in partnership with FutureLearn. The first two courses are open for registration now, and we’ve got plans to develop and run more courses throughout the year, so if you’re an educator, let us know what you would find most useful.
We’re also really excited to be launching a brand-new free resource for educators later this month in partnership with CAS, the grass-roots network of computing educators. For now, it’s top-secret, but if you’re in the Bett Arena on 25 January, you’ll be the first to hear all about it.
Free educational resources
One of the most important things we do at Pi Towers is create the free educational resources that are used in Code Clubs, STEM clubs, CoderDojos, classrooms, libraries, makerspaces, and bedrooms by people of all ages learning about computing and digital making. We love making these resources and we know that you love using them. This year, we want to make them even more useful.
As a first step, later this month we will share our digital making curriculum, which explains how we think about learning and progression, and which provides the structure for our educational resources and programmes. We’re publishing it so that we can get feedback to make it better, but we also hope that it will be used by other organisations creating educational resources.
We’re also working hard behind the scenes to improve the content and presentation of our learning resources. We want to include more diverse content like videos, make it easier for users to track their own progress, and generally make the experience more interactive and social. We’re looking forward to sharing that work and getting your feedback over the next few months.
Last, but by no means least, we will continue to support and grow the community around our mission. We’ll be doing even more outreach, with ever more diverse groups, and doing much more to support the Raspberry Jam organisers and others who do so much to involve people in the digital making movement.
The other big community news is that we will be formally establishing ourselves as a charity in the US, which will provide the foundation (see what I did there?) for a serious expansion of our charitable activities and community in North America.
As you can see, we’ve got big plans for the year. Let me know what you think in the comments below and, if you’re excited about the mission, there’s lots of ways to get involved.
Right now, 400km above the Earth aboard the International Space Station, are two very special pieces of hardware. Two Raspberry Pi computers are currently orbiting our planet, each equipped with a Sense HAT, a camera and a special aluminium flight case – and children all over Europe have the chance to program them.
Last year, in collaboration with the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency, we ran a competition that allowed students all over the UK to design experiments to run on the Astro Pi units. We sent their code into space with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, who had a great time running all their programs. The data collected was then transmitted back down to Earth, so the winners of the competition – and everyone else – could analyse the results of their experiments as well.
Tim is safely back on Earth now, but French ESA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet is soon launching to the ISS, and he’s keen to see what students from all over Europe can do with the Astro Pi units too. So ESA, together with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, are launching a brand-new Astro Pi Challenge, and this time it’s open to children from every ESA member country.
Children from across Europe can enter the European Astro Pi Challenge Photo: Earthlights 2002 by NASA
This is an amazing opportunity for students all over Europe. What better way to learn about computing, science, and space than actually being able to run your very own experiments on board the International Space Station? Imagine being able to say that you played a part in a real ESA mission, that programs you wrote were executed in orbit, and that results from your experiments were analysed by children all over the world!
If you’re picked to continue to the next phase, you will receive an Astro Pi kit and a mission challenge designed by Thomas Pesquet to test your team’s ingenuity and skills.
If your solutions are picked, then your code will be beamed up to the ISS, installed on the Astro Pi units, and run by Thomas Pesquet.
To help you learn all about the Astro Pi units and gain the skills to use a Raspberry Pi equipped with a Sense HAT, we have a variety of resources that you can begin to work your way through. Just go to our resources section and have a look through the Astro Pi and Sense HAT resources. Even if you don’t have a Sense HAT yourself, you can still learn how to use one with either the stand-alone, desktop Sense HAT emulator or Trinket’s web-based emulator.
If this post gives you a sense of déjà-vu it’s because, last month, we announced a web-based Sense HAT emulator in partnership with US-based startup Trinket.
Today, we’re announcing another Sense HAT emulator designed to run natively on your Raspberry Pi desktop, instead of inside a browser. Developed by Dave Jones, it’s intended for people who own a Raspberry Pi but not a Sense HAT. In the picture below, the sliders are used to change the values reported by the sensors while your code is running.
So, why do we need two versions?
For offline use, possibly the most common way Raspberry Pis are used in the classroom.
To accommodate the oldest 256 MB models of Raspberry Pi which cannot run the web version.
To allow you to integrate your Sense HAT program with any available Python modules, or other Raspberry Pi features such as the Camera Module.
The emulator will come pre-installed in the next Raspbian release but, for now, you can just install it by typing the commands below into a terminal window:
You can then access it from the Desktop menu, under Programming.
The emulator closely simulates the Sense HAT hardware being attached to your Pi. You can read from the sensors or write to the LED matrix using multiple Python processes, for example.
Write your code in IDLE as before; there are also a number of examples that can be opened from the emulator’s built-in menu. If you then want to port your code to a physical Sense HAT, you just need to change
at the top of your program. Reverse this if you’re porting a physical Sense HAT program to the emulator, perhaps from one of our educational resources; this step isn’t required in the web version of the emulator.
There are a number of preferences that you can adjust to change the behaviour of the emulator, most notably sensor simulation, otherwise known as jitter. This costs some CPU time, and is disabled by default on the low-end Raspberry Pis, but it provides a realistic experience of how the hardware sensors would behave. You’ll see that the values being returned in your code drift according to the known error tolerances of the physical sensors used on the Sense HAT.
This emulator will allow more Raspberry Pi users to participate in future Astro Pi competitions without having to buy a Sense HAT: ideal for the classroom where 15 Sense HATs may be beyond the budget.
So, where do you start? If you’re new to the Sense HAT, you can just copy and paste many of the code examples from our educational resources, like this one. You can also check out our e-book Sense HAT Essentials. For a complete list of all the functions you can use, have a look at the Sense HAT API reference here.
You can even install this emulator on other types of Linux desktop, such as Ubuntu! For more information on how to do this, please visit the emulator documentation pages here.
Liz: Before we get down to business, we’ve a notice to share. Laura Clay, who is behind the scenes editing this blog, The MagPi and much more, is also a fiction writer; and she’s been chosen as one of 17 Emerging Writers by the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust. Each writer will be reading a short story at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and it’s a great way to discover writers living and working in the city at the start of their careers. Laura will be reading her story Loch na Bèiste on Friday 26 August at 3pm in the Spiegeltent, and entry is free, so why not come along and support her? Warning: story may contain murderous kelpies.
Now that British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake is back on the ground it’s time for the final Astro Pi mission update: the summary of the experiment results from the International Space Station (ISS). We’ve been holding this back to give the winners some time to publish the results of their experiments themselves.
Back in 2015 we ran a competition where students could design and program computer science experiments, to be run by Tim Peake on specially cased Raspberry Pis called Astro Pis. Here’s the original competition video, voiced by Tim himself:
This is “Astro Pi” by raspberrypi on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.
The competition ran from January to July 2015 and produced seven winning experiments, which were launched into space a few days before Tim started his mission. Between February and April 2016, these experiments were run on board the ISS under Tim Peake’s supervision. They’re mostly based around the sensors found on the Sense HAT, but a few also employ the Raspberry Pi Camera Module. Head over to the Astro Pi website now to check out the results, released today!
One of the main things we’ve learnt from running Astro Pi is that the biggest motivational factor for young people is the very tangible goal of having their code run in space. This eclipses any physical prize we could offer. Many people see space as quite distant and abstract, but with Astro Pi you can actually get your hands on space-qualified hardware, create something that would work up in space, and become an active participant in the European space programme.
Many of the Astro Pi winners now express an interest in studying aerospace and computer science. They’ve gained exposure to the real-life process of scientific endeavour, and faced industrial software development challenges along the way. We hope that everyone who participated in Astro Pi has been positively influenced by the programme. The results also demonstrate that the payload works reliably in space. This has been noticed by ESA, who are now planning to use it during upcoming missions. It’s really important for us that the payload continues to be used to run your code in space, so we’re working hard with ESA to make sure that we can do Astro Pi all over again.
British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake with the prototype Astro Pi. Image credit ESA.
We would also like to thank Libby Jackson, who is the Astronaut Flight Education Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency and a former flight director at ESA. She oversees all of the Principia educational activities, including Astro Pi.
Libby Jackson, UK Space Agency. Image credit Imperial College London.
During the interview for her job at the UK Space Agency a few years ago, she pitched an idea for running a project on the ISS involving Raspberry Pi computers. Instead of launching traditional physical equipment, the experiments would be in the form of computer software, meaning that many more experiments could be accommodated. That kernel of an idea is what eventually became Astro Pi.
Izzy deployed on the Nadir Hatch window of Node 2. Image credit ESA.
Over the last few months, we’ve been working with US-based startup Trinket to develop a web-based emulator for the Sense HAT, the multipurpose add-on board for the Raspberry Pi which is also the core component of the Astro Pi units on the International Space Station. We wanted to provide a unique, free learning resource that brings the excitement of programming our space-qualified hardware to students, teachers, and others all over the world.
We’re delighted to announce its release today, and you can try it for yourself right now. Click the Run ▻ button below and see what happens!
The emulator will allow more people to participate in future Astro Pi competitions – you’ll be able to join in without needing to own a Raspberry Pi computer or a Sense HAT.
British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake with the Astro Pi. Image credit ESA
The new emulator builds on Trinket’s existing Python-in-browser platform, and provides the following features:
Virtual Sense HAT with environmental controls and joystick input
Full Python syntax highlighting
Intuitive error reporting and highlighting
HTML page embedding
Social media integration
Project sharing via direct URL
Project download as zip (for moving to Raspberry Pi)
All major browsers supported
The Sense HAT has temperature, pressure and humidity sensors, and can change its behaviour according to the values they report. The Sense HAT emulator has sliders you can move to change these values, so you can test how your code responds to environmental variables.
You can move the sliders to change what the sensors are reporting
Code written in this emulator is directly portable to a physical Raspberry Pi with a Sense HAT without modification. This means any code you write can be run by the Astro Pi units on board the ISS! It is our hope that, within the next 12 months, code that has been written in the emulator will run in space. Look out for news on this, coming soon on the Astro Pi site!
We owe huge thanks to Trinket, who have been wonderful partners in this project. The development work has been completed in just over two months, and has been a huge collaborative effort from the start. The software relies heavily on open-source technology and a global community of developers who are committed to making the power of code more accessible to students.
A closed group of beta testers, made up of previous Astro Pi participants and Code Club champions, has been putting the emulator through its paces over recent weeks. We’re proud to say that we’ve just had a bug-free open beta over the weekend, and now we’re looking forward to seeing it used as widely as possible.
So, where do you start? If you’re new to the Sense HAT, you can just copy and paste a lot of the code examples from our educational resources like this one. You can also check out our e-book Sense HAT Essentials. For a complete list of all the functions you can use, have a look at the Sense HAT API reference here; please note that the IMU (movement-sensing) functions will be supported in a future update. Head over to the main Sense HAT emulator site to see loads of other cool examples of what’s possible. Flappy LED, anyone?
We’re back again with yet another amazing book in our Essentials series. We know you love them, and we also know that a lot of you love Minecraft. So here is Hacking and Making with Minecraft, the best place to learn about how to mod Minecraft Pi using the power of code.
Make games and mod the world with Minecraft Essentials
Packed into its pages, which you can download for free as a PDF, are a load of chapters based on articles in the magazine, as well as plenty of brand new tutorials created by the Minecraft Pi Mastermind himself, Martin O’Hanlon. You may have heard of him – he helped get the SpaceCRAFT code working that was run on the International Space Station by Tim Peake!
Here’s some of the amazing things you’ll find in the 13 chapters squeezed into the book:
Play the game and write your first program
Learn how to control blocks using code
Create your first mini games
Interact with the GPIO pins through Minecraft
Control Minecraft with Node-RED and Sonic Pi
And lots more exciting stuff!
We reckon it will help improve your coding skills, which you should remember when your parents start asking why you’re playing a bit more Minecraft than usual.
You can buy Hacking and Making with Minecraft in our app for Android and iOS, as well as grabbing the free PDF. Print versions are coming soon too.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to go try it out ourselves in the Holodeck.
Hacking and Making with Minecraft is freely licensed under Creative Commons (BY-SA-NC 3.0). You can download the PDF for free now and forever, but buying digitally supports the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s charitable mission to democratise computing and educate kids all over the world – so please consider it!
Get your free poster and mission patch exclusively in the print edition of The MagPi 47!
We’ve been avidly following Tim Peake’s adventures in space in The MagPi for the last six months, especially all the excellent work he’s been doing with the Astro Pis running code from school students across the UK. Tim returned to Earth a couple of weeks ago, so we thought we’d celebrate in The MagPi 47 with a massive feature about his time in space, along with the results of the Astro Pi experiments and the project’s future…
The space celebration doesn’t stop there: print copies of The MagPi 47 come with an exclusive Astro Pi mission patch and a Tim Peake Astro Pi poster!
The results of what Tim, Ed, and Izzy have been up to for the past six months
The issue also has our usual range of excellent tutorials, from programming dinosaurs to creating motion sensor games and optical illusions. We also have the hottest news on high-altitude balloons and how you can get involved in sending a Pi to the edge of space, as well as the details on the next Pi Wars Pi-powered robot competition.
You can get your latest spaceworthy issue in-store from WH Smith, Tesco, Sainsburys, and Asda. Our American cousins will be able to buy issues from Barnes & Noble and Micro Center when the issue makes its way over there. It’s also available right now in print on our online store, which delivers internationally. If you prefer digital, it’s ready to download on the Android and iOS apps.
Get a free Pi Zero Want to make sure you never miss an issue? Subscribe today and start with issue 47 to not only get the poster and mission patch, but also a Pi Zero bundle featuring the new, camera-enabled Pi Zero and a cable bundle that includes the camera adapter.
Free Pi Zeros and posters: what’s not to love about a MagPi subscription?
Free Creative Commons download As always, you can download your copy of The MagPi completely free. Grab it straight from the issue page for The MagPi 47.
Don’t forget, though, that like sales of the Raspberry Pi itself, all proceeds from the print and digital editions of the magazine go to help the Foundation achieve its charitable goals. Help us democratise computing!
This is not the end of Astro Pi. It’s only the beginning.
On Saturday, British ESA astronaut Tim Peake returned to Earth after six months on the International Space Station. During his time in orbit, he did a huge amount of work to share the excitement of his trip with young people and support education across the curriculum: as part of this, he used our two Astro Pi computers, Izzy and Ed, to run UK school students’ code and play their music in space. But what lies ahead for the pair now Tim’s mission, Principia, is complete?
As British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s mission comes to an end, what will become of Ed and Izzy, our courageous Astro Pis? Find out more at astro-pi.org/about/mission/ Narration by Fran Scott: franscott.co.uk
Ed and Izzy will remain on the International Space Station until 2022, and they have exciting work ahead of them. Keep an eye on this blog and on our official magazine, The MagPi, for news!
“Who knows who this is?” “It’s Tim Peake” “Where is he?” “In space” “No – he’s back on Earth!”pic.twitter.com/elfNXcAwsX
As we walked around the venue we grew more and more impressed by the projects on show. We asked each exhibiting group to talk us through their project, and were genuinely impressed by both the projects and their presentation. The first area we perused was the Scratch projects – games, animations, quizzes and more. I’m not the most accomplished Scratch programmer so I was very impressed with what we were shown.
When we moved on to a room of physical computing projects, we met Iseult Mangan, Ireland’s first Raspberry Pi Certified Educator:
First up, a home-made 3D holographic display. The picture does it no justice, but look close (or click to embiggen) and you’ll see the Scratch cat, which was spinning around as part of a longer animation. The girl who made it said she put it together out of an old CD case. Very cool indeed!
Scratch cat hologram
Plenty of great robots…
We arrived at a beautiful Pi-powered retro gaming console, and spoke to the maker’s Dad. He was excited for his son to be able to show his project to people from the Raspberry Pi Foundation and asked if we could stick around to wait for him to return. Here he is:
When I mentioned one of my favourite Mega Drive games, he loaded it up for me to play:
It took me about 15 years to complete this game – I was playing it before he was born!
This was really impressive: these two girls had made a Wii remote-pcontrolled hovercraft with a Raspberry Pi:
Watch Ben Nuttall’s Vine taken on 18 June 2016. It has 0 likes. The entertainment network where videos and personalities get really big, really fast. Download Vine to watch videos, remixes and trends before they blow up.
I met DJ Dhruv, who demonstrated his livecoding skills in Sonic Pi, and gave a very professional presentation involving a number of handshakes:
DJ Dhruv is livecoding in @sonic_pi and teaching us about the history of the amen break. @samaaron you’d love thispic.twitter.com/tSrn0CTQzP
Pi-vision: a way to help blind people find their way around…
Probably my favourite of all, this group created a 3D Minecraft Pi booth using mirrors. They showed me their Python code which ran simultaneously on two Pis, while one played music in Sonic Pi, with cross-application communication between Python and Sonic Pi to coordinate timings. A Herculean effort achieving a wonderful effect.
How can you get involved?
If you want to join us in giving more young people the opportunity to learn programming skills, learn to make things with computers, and generally hack things that didn’t need hacking, there are plenty of ways you can get involved. You can:
Set up a Raspberry Jam in your area, or volunteer to help out at one near you
Start a Code Club at a local primary school, or another venue like a library or community centre
Set up a CoderDojo, or offer to help at one near you
Also, I should point out we have an job opening for a senior programme manager. We’re looking for someone with experience running large programmes for young people. If that’s you, be sure to check it out!
As part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s mission to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world, we want to make these skills more relevant and accessible.
It’s kind of a thing to end blog posts with a GIF, so here’s mine:
British ESA astronaut Tim Peake has been on board the International Space Station with our Astro Pi units, Izzy and Ed, for exactly six months today. As Tim prepares to return to Earth this Saturday, we bring you the third part of their animated adventures: when our two spacefaring Raspberry Pi computers run into a problem even their hero Robonaut can’t fix, who can help them?
During his time in space, Tim has been using Ed and Izzy to run apps, carry out science experiments and play music designed and coded by UK school students, and he’s taken some great photos of them on the station:
Both computers have also spent some weeks in a flight recorder mode, saving sensor readings to a database every ten seconds, and we’ve made these space data available to everyone to download and analyse. Take a look at our Flight Data Analysis resource to explore what they recorded as they orbited our planet.
Ed and Izzy will say goodbye to Tim when he returns from space this Saturday; you’ll be able to watch him land. Our Astro Pi units will stay on board the ISS until 2022, and we hope we’ll soon be able to share exciting news about what they’ll be doing next. Stay tuned!
Back in February, we announced an extension to the Astro Pi mission in the form of two coding challenges. The first required you to write Python Sense HAT code to turn Ed and Izzy (the Astro Pi computers) into an MP3 player, so that Tim Peake could plug in his headphones and listen to his music. The second required you to code Sonic Pi music for Tim to listen to via the MP3 player.
We announced the winners in early April. Since then, we’ve been checking your code on flight-equivalent Astro Pi units and going through the official software delivery and deployment process with the European Space Agency (ESA).
Crew time is heavily regulated on the ISS. However, because no science or experimentation output is required for this, they allowed us to upload it as a crew care package for Tim! We’re very grateful to the UK Space Agency and ESA for letting us extend the Astro Pi project in this way to engage more kids.
The code was uploaded and Tim deployed it onto Ed on May 15. He then recorded this and sent it to us:
British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s message to the students who took part in the 2016 Astro Pi coding challenges to hack his Astro Pi mini-computer, on the International Space Station, into an MP3 player. The music heard is called Run to the Stars composed by one of the teams who took part.
In total, there were four winning MP3 players and four winning Sonic Pi tunes; the audio from the Sonic Pi entries was converted into MP3 format, so that it could be played by the MP3 players. The music heard is called Run to the Stars, composed with Sonic Pi by Iris and Joseph Mitchell, who won the 11 years and under age group.
Tim tested all four MP3 players, listened to all four Sonic Pi tunes, and then went on to load more tunes from his own Spacerocks collection onto the Astro Pi!
Tim said in an email:
As a side note, I’ve also loaded it with some of my Spacerocks music – it works just great. I was dubious about the tilt mechanism working well in microgravity, using the accelerometers to change tracks, but it works brilliantly. I tried inputting motion in other axes to test the stability and it was rock solid – it only worked with the correct motion. Well done to that group!!
“That group” was Lowena Hull from Portsmouth High School, whose MP3 player could change tracks by quickly twisting the Astro Pi to the left or right. Good coding, Lowena!
Thanks again to everyone who took part, to our special judges OMD and Ilan Eshkeri, and especially to Tim Peake, who did this during his time off on a Sunday afternoon last weekend.
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