PiCademy

At the end of the school session I travelled to Cambridge to take part in the second PiCademy organised and hosted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Pi towers was easy enough to find, located just a few minutes from the town centre, and after a few coffees and NDAs it was time to begin.

Carrie-Anne Philbin hosted the event and quickly got the audience thinking about the educational benefits of a low-cost customisable device. The PiCademy cohort were from primary and secondary sectors and – importantly – had experience in different subject areas. We were grouped into teams of five, each led by an experienced Raspberry Pi user, and provided with plenty of sweets to keep our energy up.

The first day gave us the opportunity to see what the Raspberry Pi had to offer. There were workshops on accessing GPIO via Scratch, taking images with the PiCamera, extending Minecraft using Python and using the sample warping capabilities of Sonic Pi 2.0. It was very intense but gave us prompts from which the class generated a lot of ideas of how Raspberry Pis could be used in our own classrooms or subjects. These ideas were discussed in greater detail over dinner on the banks of the Camb.

Day two provided – for me – a unique experience in a CPD course: a chance to think, discuss and develop your own ideas and push yourself to create a resource in under four hours. Watching the class work as individuals or groups on wildly differing projects was fantastic. The Raspberry Pi Foundation ensured that we had plenty of hardware to hand (as well as our complementary Pi!) to allow experimentation. While my OpenCV colour sensor was definitely in draft form I was pleased that it could tell the difference between red, yellow and blue objects and light a corresponding LED. Without the support of my peers and the trainers in the room many of us would have been focussing on the software and not the hardware – which is really where the Raspberry Pi has a fantastic advantage over traditional desktop PCs.

I met such an amazing, enthusiastic group of people at the PiCademy and I hope to keep in touch with as many of them as I can! At the moment I am lucky enough to be the only Raspberry Pi Certified Educator in Scotland. I hope this will change very quickly (the next PiCademy is mid-July with more to follow next session) as schools and teachers north of the border realise how much value can be gained from travelling a little bit further for high quality CPD events such as these.

Of course, if Carrie-Anne wanted to start a satellite PiCademy a little further north…

Thanks to all at The Raspberry Pi Foundation who bent over backwards to help the class of June 2014 including Carrie-Anne, Clive Beale, Ben Nuttall, Craig Richardson and Sam Aaron.