I have always loved Twitter as a means of finding out what other professionals are doing to engage their pupils, but one day I caught a glimpse of a hashtag that really interested me... #Picademy. I follow quite a few Raspberry Pi enthusiasts so #Picademy seemed to be popping up everywhere! From a small amount of research, I discovered that it was a fantastic two days of CPD for educators who wanted to extend and develop their knowledge of computing and the new curriculum through the use of my new favourite 'toy', the Raspberry Pi.
I completed the application process to join Picademy #8 which included writing a blog post on 'Being a 21st Century Teacher'. I then had a long wait ahead of me to hear whether I would be selected to attend. I regularly headed back to Twitter to discover a whole host of amazing Picademy applicants, including David Saunders and (past Picademy attendee) Cat Lamin. Through my discussions with these two technology gurus, I was starting to get very excited about attending. So I think it's fair to say that I was bouncing off the walls upon receiving my acceptance email. The beautiful thing about Picademy is the community spirit. It's like one big family of incredibly creative people and I'm very happy to finally be a part of it.
So what did I get up to in two days of Picademy-ing... In a very small nutshell, the first day consisted of workshops with various experts, some of which were from the amazing community that I just mentioned! The final day was our own to take what we had learned and turn it into a Raspberry Pi project of our choosing.
|Carrie Anne greeted us as we arrived at Picademy #8|
DAY ONEsonic-pi.net, Sonic Pi is 'audible computing'. Sounds intriguing, huh? A more detailed description is also provided on their website:
Sam Aaron conducted his workshop with us. It's just fantastic to see coding being seen as an art form, and Sam is incredibly passionate about its use! And you can't help but agree with him.
|Sonic Pi's nice and simple user interface|
Sonic Pi is a beautifully simple, but powerful piece of software from a passionate creator. I will definitely be taking this back to school and bringing music alive through our computing curriculum.
Every child's favourite video game character hasn't gone unnoticed by the Raspberry Pi. A version has been ported to the Pi, and while it isn't the 'full-fat' PC version, you have the wonderful opportunity to hack it to pieces! Martin O'Hanlon, co-author of 'Adventures in Minecraft' (get it!), showed us how to do just that using the Python programming language.
- Don't Look Down - throwing Steve into the air by finding his current location, then changing the y coordinate value.
- Duplicator - copying the block that Steve is standing on and placing it on top of his head. We did this by identifying the location and type of block beneath his feet, then adding that same block type to the location above his head.
- Walk on Air - placing blocks beneath Steve's feet so he could 'walk on air' by looping the placement of a diamond block in the location under Steve's feet.
|Rainbow Bridge code|
Three of the first day workshops revolved around physical computing. We learned about the Pibrella, the PiCamera and using the Pi's GPIO pins to attach LEDs. Ben Nuttall had the job of showing us how to setup and use the PiCamera with the Raspberry Pi.
I have already done a little time lapse photography with the Picamera but I am looking forward to doing some more with the children at school. Here is a time lapse video of my school's Summer Fayre last year:
Big Les Pounder walked us through attaching a Pibrella to our Raspberry Pi. This cool little board sits on top of the Pi and consists of a button, three traffic light coloured LEDs and a buzzer for you to interact with. Les also showed us how to add additional components to the Pibrella, like a motor! We basically followed this tutorial on the Raspberry Pi website.
Lastly on day one, Clive Beale showed us how to use python to turn on an LED attached to the Raspberry Pi's GPIO pins. He also had one of the best props I've ever seen for demonstrating this too... I really wanted to take them home!
|Land of the Giants?|
|Look ma, no resistors!|
|Back at the hotel after a looooooong first day!|
As I said at the beginning, day two was generally about being let loose on all the hardware to create an interesting project. Our experts were on hand to impart any relevant knowledge (as well as irrelevant!) to assist us in our quests. At first, I wasn't very sure what I wanted to do. Dave Honess gave a few of us a quick demonstration of Astro Pi, a board that sits on top of the Raspberry Pi and is full of sensors that will soon be making the long journey to the ISS with Major Tim Peake.
|Astro Pi in all its glory|
As exciting as the Astro Pi was, I finally decided to do something with Sonic Pi and Minecraft. I was so impressed with Sam Aaron and Sonic Pi on day one that I felt I had to dig a little deeper with it. With the help of James Robinson, Sam and fellow Picademian, Alex Young, we set about exploring how we could incorporate the use of coded music into the phenomenon that is Minecraft.
|Introducing the Sonic Minecraft Keyboard!|
Unfortunately, we didn't quite get that far! However, we did create a 'keyboard' to test different sample sounds that worked a treat. The completed code can be found here.
At the end of the second day, all attendees had the opportunity to share their projects to the group. When I said that the Picademy community is full of creative people, after watching all the presentations, I was definitely not wrong! I am well and truly honoured to be part of the Raspberry Pi Certified Educators family. Well done, everyone!