It is a beautiful piece of hardware and I’m sure takes pride of place in many a building, with scores of people gazing upon it in wonder, especially if you’ve hacked it to do something cool. But is it art? Google Developers certainly think so, and have launched Dev Art: Art Made with Code mid-February, as an open platform that allows artists to share their digital art with the world and also detail the process they took to create their work in a unique way. If you have not already checked out the site, then I would highly recommend doing so. Raspberry Pi is listed as a platform, and there are some examples of its use in this project such as the Wireless Poetry Installation.
As well as the Dev Art website, Google have teamed up with the Barbican in London to host an exhibition of digital interactive art this summer and they are offering anyone the chance to exhibit alongside some of the worlds most well known digital artists in this exhibition through their Dev Art competition.
The winning creative coder will receive a budget of £25K, Google Developer support as well as curational and production support from the Barbican to help realise their concept into a digital art installation.
The Top 10 Finalists will have the opportunity to meet the DevArt judging panel during a Google+ Hangout, along with a ‘DevArt Finalist’ award for their site.
We know how powerful art can be in teaching computing skills since working with Dr Sam Aaron on Sonic Pi, and watching our own Artist in Residence Rachel Rayns lead workshops. Now it is over to you! We hope that the wider Raspberry Pi community will feel motivated to submit their projects to the Dev Art competition. Who knows, maybe you could be exhibiting at the Barbican!
From September 2014 Computing will be a subject in its own right in English schools. Of course at Raspberry Pi Towers we are delighted (and I mean dancing around like a drunk uncle at a wedding reception delighted) that young people will now have the opportunity to study one of the most creative, exciting and challenging subjects in the curriculum. But who will teach them? Computing is effectively a brand new subject and there are relatively few specialist teachers to deliver it. The problem is worse for primary school teachers who have to teach a range of different subjects and who typically have fewer IT resources than secondary schools.
So, of course, we need to train teachers, especially primary teachers. And training works wonders—teachers arrive at my courses full of trepidation and weird rumours (you need to be a maths genius; it’s all about programming; coding gives you hairy palms). They walk out of the end of the day confident and buzzing with excitement and ideas. That’s all it takes. Of course no one will be an expert after one day, but the point is that you don’t have to be. Computing at this level is about problem solving and puzzles and creative fun—things that human beings are naturally drawn to and enjoy. And it’s definitely not just about “coding”. Whatever that is.
So hurrah for training! Let’s all sign up for a course at our local school! Except … there isn’t any to speak of. What there is is typically dispersed and expensive and of variable content. What teachers and schools need is widely available, low-cost, high quality, curriculum-centred training.
Which is what Code Club thought too. So in true Code Club fashion they decided to just do it. We love Code Club! Anyway, I’ll let them fill the rest in. I only meant to write a sentence as an intro but as you can tell it’s something I’m passionate about. Plus, I like showboating. And if you are a school or teacher and would like to get involved, pop over to Code Club Pro’s site for more information.
Code Club, the network of over 1,875 volunteer-led after-school coding clubs, with the support of Google and CAS (Computing at Schools), is launching a nationwide training programme to teach core computing skills to primary school teachers.
The CPD program has been launched in response to widespread teacher demand for training in this area. According to Code Club, which has access to a wide network of schools, the training needs of teachers has so far been overlooked in this process. Its founders said: “Teachers are the key front-line implementers of the curriculum and more needs to be done to support this transition”.
Code Club Pro was launched today by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, at a special Code Club session in Bexton School in Knutsford, Cheshire.
Launching in April, Code Club Pro will enable primary school teachers to quickly understand the requirements of the new computing curriculum. The mission is to deliver training in computing to over 20,000 primary school teachers by 2016, while reaching many more through the provision of online programmes and resources.
Clare Sutcliffe, Co-Founder and CEO of Code Club, said: “The addition of coding to the new primary school curriculum is a great step forward for the UK education sector. However, to date, there has been a lack of focus on how to equip the primary school teachers to actually teach this new subject. We know first hand that teachers are feeling daunted by the prospect of having to teach a syllabus they don’t fully understand themselves. As a result, we decided to create a training programme that would help support them through this period of change.
“As a not-for-profit, Code Club is able to focus on a core objective of supporting as many teachers and children as possible, through the provision of fun, accessible and affordable training, which hands on and experiential. Our goal is to improve access to training, so that teachers can feel confident and excited about delivering the new computing curriculum.”
You met Lance Howarth, the CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation (this means he heads up our charitable giving), when he joined us earlier in the autumn. Today Lance has some news for you – and a very silly hat.
Ho Ho Ho!
He’s leaving presents under the tree, not stealing them. Honest.
Here at Pi Towers we are getting into the festive spirit, and we’ve been thinking how best to pay back the goodwill our community has shown us over the last year. So, in support of “Hour of Code” as part of Computer Science Education week, we got together with our friends from Google and we are going to give away Pis for Christmas. That’s right: we’re giving away up to 2000 Google Raspberry Pis to anyone under the age of 18 in the United Kingdom. To qualify for a free Pi you need to do one of two things. Either:
Design a “My Pi Project” poster and send it to us here at Pi Towers, and we’ll send you your own Raspberry Pi.
How do I take part?
You can get more information on Hour of Code week from our friends at Code.org. They have lots of great ideas of what you can do for the Hour Of Code. If you are a member of Code Club, how about getting your class to have a go at their festive project Christmas Capers? To qualify for your Google Pi, just ask your teacher to register here. At the end of next week we’ll take the first thousand Raspberry Pis and start shipping them out on a first come, first served basis, so the Pis should be waiting for you when you come back to school in January.
Not everyone is going to get the opportunity participate in the Hour of Code week, but don’t worry, you can still get a free Google Pi. All you need to do is design a poster showing us what you think would be a cool Raspberry Pi project. This might be something to do with your pet, like an automatic cat flap or feeder; something to do with photography, like looking at the thermal image of your house; or something festive like controlling the Christmas lights so they flash along to music. If fact, anything will do, we are just looking to see how imaginative you can be and to learn what you think would be a cool project. Once you have designed your poster you need to get your parent to print this form out, fill it in, and then send it with your poster to us by post at:
Raspberry Pi Foundation
Mount Pleasant House
Your poster needs to be with us by the 8th of January, so you’ll have plenty of time to get this done over the Christmas break. So get thinking!
Please note that we cannot accept entries that do not have parent/guardian contact details and signature.
Who ate all the Pis? Santa, of course!
A couple of notes: this promotion is only open to schools and kids in the UK (this requirement is placed on us by our partners at Google UK). You’ll receive Google Pi kits, which include a cased Model B Raspberry Pi, an SD card, a power supply, a copy of The MagPi, some projects recipe cards and a Getting Started guide. If you are a teacher and you send us a successful application, we will be getting in touch later in 2014 to talk about what you’re doing with the Raspberry Pis.
Apologies for the late post today—I started playing about with Coder this afternoon and kind of got side tracked for four hours because it’s quite wonderful. (By ‘playing’ of course I mean carrying out an Educational Evaluative Assessment.)
So why use Coder and not some other environment? It’s a brilliantly simple out of the box solution, perfect for people aren’t sure where to start or for schools where setting up servers and IDEs can be a nightmare for teacher and technician alike. Beyond this it’s an instant hacking environment and a web development sandbox. As well as letting you make stuff it’s also a great introduction to the concept of web servers and some of the main languages that underpin the web.
The interface is clean and simple and you can see the code side by side with the result and change it in real time. The section tabs physically and conceptually separate the HTML from the styles from the script, which is just how it should be. I could go on but instead I’ll tell you how to get started.
How to get started
Full instructions are on the Coder site but here’s the gist:
Download the image file and flash a 4Gb SD card
Pop it into your Pi and turn it on. You won’t notice too much difference to a standard installation whilst it’s booting (Raspbian lurks beneath) but you’ll end up at the prompt ‘coder login:‘ (You don’t need to login.)
Open a browser on any computer on the same network as the Pi and type ‘http://coder.local‘ into the address bar**
From booting to playing around with web pages took less than two minutes. The hardest bit was coming up with a strong password (what the hell is wrong with ‘pooface1′? My bank is OK with it).
A Machine of Doom? I’ll take three.
So once you’re in, what can you do? Unlike many educational resources, the tutorial is actually a good place to start. Comments at the top of each page explain what’s going on and it’s easy to start tweaking and hacking the code—just click on the </>. Personally I went for the eyeball and gave it a huge, red sclera because it was looking at me funny. ‘Space Rocks‘ actually has a ‘Hack‘ button that lets you play about with variables, which is always a great way to explore a program (and who can resist giving themselves hundreds of lives? Cheating at its finest.)
Big red & sclerotic — that’s better.
Coder is what all educational resources should be: focused and fun but with loads of potential. It’s a damn fine piece of software. You can also get involved with Coder directly as it’s open source and the Coder Team would love your help.
Download it and have a play—we love it. I’m off to make huge, monkey headed missiles for my spaceship.
**Note: Windows users will have to install Apple’s Bonjour Print Services first. NOTE: When I tried to install BPS in Windows 8 it fell over, refusing to create the shortcut due to some rubbishly random nonsense about privileges. I fixed this by first manually creating a new folder called “Bonjour Print Services” in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs and then installing. Ho hum.
Glossary for beginners
IDE Integrated Development Environment. Software that brings together a bunch of tools and utilities to assist in software development.
CSS Cascading Style Sheets. A language that is used to tell a web page how it should look.
HTML Hypertext Markup Language. The main language that web pages are written in.
Web server A computer that stores web content (text, images, scripts, video, style sheets etc.) and sends it to other computers when they request it. For example, your browser requested this blog page from the server and then displayed it on the screen.
We’ve been talking a bit about London Zoo’s efforts with the camera board to set affordable camera traps in Kenya, looking not only for wild animals, but also for poachers. This is incredibly important work; rhinos, elephants and other terribly endangered animals are targeted for their body parts, which fetch large sums in some markets.
On Thursday, our friend LadyAda, owner of Adafruit and Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year, is spending part of Valentine’s Day doing something called a Fireside Hangout (this sounds awfully romantic) with President Obama.
The marvellous LadyAda
We wonder what sort of hardware she’ll be talking about. She says:
I was selected to join President Obama in a Fireside Hangout this Thursday 2/14 at 4:50pm EST on Google+!
We’ll discuss issues that are top of mind for citizens, and I’d love you all to help shape this conversation. Submit your questions to http://www.youtube.com/whitehouse and the President will answer questions that are voted to the top.
A short video from last week’s announcement of Google’s $1m grant for Raspberry Pi kits and teaching materials has just appeared in my inbox. No new news here, but we thought you’d like to see just how well the kids at Chesterton Community College got on with the morning’s programming; and to watch Eben trying his hardest not to break into a giant grin.
Today’s been a bit unlike most Tuesdays at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Today we’re the recipients of a very generous grant from Google Giving, which will provide 15,000 Raspberry Pi Model Bs for schoolkids around the UK. Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, has just been to visit Cambridge, and he and Eben have been teaching a classroom of local kids to code all morning. Lucky kids.
(Usually on Tuesday mornings we eat biscuits and do engineering. This is a bit of a change of pace.)
We’re going to be working with Google and six UK educational partners to find the kids who we think will benefit from having their very own Raspberry Pi. CoderDojo, Code Club, Computing at Schools, Generating Genius, Teach First and OCR will each be helping us identify those kids, and will also be helping us work with them. You’ll already have seen the Raspberry Pi teaching materials from Computing at Schools; OCR will also be creating 15,000 free teaching and learning packs to go with the Raspberry Pis.
We’re absolutely made up over the news; this is a brilliant way for us to find kids all over the country whose aptitude for computing can now be explored properly. We believe that access to tools is a fundamental necessity in finding out who you are and what you’re good at. We want those tools to be within everybody’s grasp, right from the start.
The really good sign is that industry has a visible commitment now to trying to solve the problem of CS education in the UK. Grants like this show us that companies like Google aren’t prepared to wait for government or someone else to fix the problems we’re all discussing, but want to help tackle them themselves. We’re incredibly grateful for their help in something that we, like them, think is of vital importance. We think they deserve an enormous amount of credit for helping some of our future engineers and scientists find a way to a career they’re going to love.
This is a fascinating five minutes of video from last Saturday’s Raspberry Pi session at the London Games Festival, where kids and teachers spent the day workshopping away at the Google campus. The Guardian were there to record what was going on, and talked to Eben, to Alasdair Blackwell from Decoded, and to Theo Blackwell from Next Gen Skills. Well worth a watch!
If you’re one of those who wanted to go and see Rob on his tour who hasn’t been able to, here’s some video of his talk at the Google campus in Mountain View. Rob promises me that he’ll write a blog post about his trip very soon. Right now, he’s still somewhere in the western US – my hat’s off to him, because he’s still absurdly perky, while I’m all twitchy with fatigue after a trip a third the length of his. Go Rob.
We should have some video for you of one of Eben’s US talks coming up later this week.