Raspberry Pi Blog

This is the official Raspberry Pi blog for news and updates from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, education initiatives, community projects and more!

Recreate the sprite-following Options from Gradius using Python | Wireframe issue 16

Learn how to create game objects that follow the path of the main player sprite. Raspberry Pi’s own Rik Cross explains all.

Options first appeared in 1985’s Gradius, but became a mainstay of numerous sequels and spin-offs, including the Salamander and Parodius series of games.

Gradius

First released by Konami in 1985, Gradius pushed the boundaries of the shoot-’em-up genre with its varied level design, dramatic boss fights, and innovative power-up system.

One of the most memorable of its power-ups was the Option — a small, drone-like blob that followed the player’s ship and effectively doubled its firepower.

By collecting more power-ups, it was possible to gather a cluster of death-dealing Options, which obediently moved wherever the player moved.

Recreate sprite-following in Python

There are a few different ways of recreating Gradius’ sprite-following, but in this article, I’ll show you a simple implementation that uses the player’s ‘position history’ to place other following items on the screen. As always, I’ll be using Python and Pygame to recreate this effect, and I’ll be making use of a spaceship image created by ‘pitrizzo’ from opengameart.org.

The first thing to do is to create a spaceship and a list of ‘power-up’ objects. Storing the power-ups in a list allows us to perform a simple calculation on a power-up to determine its position, as you’ll see later. As we’ll be iterating through the power-ups stored in a list, there’s no need to create a separate variable for each. Instead, we can use list comprehension to create the power-ups:

powerups = [Actor(‘powerup’) for p in range(3)]

The player’s position history will be a list of previous positions, stored as a list of (x,y) tuples. Each time the player’s position changes, the new position is added to the front of the list (as the new first element). We only need to know the spaceship’s recent position history, so the list is also truncated to only contain the 100 most recent positions. Although not necessary, the following code can be added to allow you to see a selection (in this case every fifth) of these previous positions:

for p in previouspositions[::5]:

screen.draw.filled_circle(p, 2, (255,0,0))

Plotting the spaceship’s position history.

Each frame of the game, this position list is used to place each of the power-ups. In our Gradius-like example, we need each of these objects to follow the player’s spaceship in a line, as if moving together in a single-file queue. To achieve this effect, a power-up’s position is determined by its position in the power-ups list, with the first power-up in the list taking up a position nearest to the player. In Python, using enumerate when iterating through a list allows us to get the power-up’s position in the list, which can then be used to determine which position in the player’s position history to use.

newposition = previouspositions[(i+1)*20]

So, the first power-up in the list (element 0 in the list) is placed at the coordinates of the twentieth ((0+1)*20) position in the spaceship’s history, the second power-up at the fourtieth position, and so on. Using this simple calculation, elements are equally spaced along the spaceship’s previous path. The only thing to be careful of here is that you have enough items in the position history for the number of items you want to follow the player!

Power-ups following a player sprite, using the player’s position history.

This leaves one more question to answer; where do we place these power-ups initially, when the spaceship has no position history? There are a few different ways of solving this problem, but the simplest is just to generate a fictitious position history at the beginning of the game. As I want power-ups to be lined up behind the spaceship initially, I again used list comprehension

to generate a list of 100 positions with ever-decreasing x-coordinates.

previouspositions = [(spaceship.x - i*spaceship.speed,spaceship.y) for i in range(100)]

With an initial spaceship position of (400,400) and a spaceship.speed of 4, this means the list will initially contain the following coordinates:

previouspositions = [(400,400),(396,400),(392,400),(388,400),...]

Storing our player’s previous position history has allowed us to create path-following power-ups with very little code. The idea of storing an object’s history can have very powerful applications. For example, a paint program could store previous commands that have been executed, and include an ‘undo’ button that can work backwards through the commands.

Here’s Rik’s code, which recreates those sprite-following Options in Python. To get it running on your system, you’ll first need to install Pygame Zero. And to download the full code, go here.

Get your copy of Wireframe issue 16

You can read more features like this one in Wireframe issue 16, available now at Tesco, WHSmith, and all good independent UK newsagents.

Or you can buy Wireframe directly from Raspberry Pi Press — delivery is available worldwide. And if you’d like a handy digital version of the magazine, you can also download issue 16 for free in PDF format.

Make sure to follow Wireframe on Twitter and Facebook for updates and exclusive offers and giveaways. Subscribe on the Wireframe website to save up to 49% compared to newsstand pricing!

No Comments

European Astro Pi Challenge: Mission Space Lab winners 2018–2019!

This is your periodic reminder that there are two Raspberry Pi computers in space! That’s right — our Astro Pi units Ed and Izzy have called the International Space Station home since 2016, and we are proud to work with ESA Education to run the European Astro Pi Challenge, which allows students to conduct scientific investigations in space, by writing computer programs.

Astro PI IR on ISS

An Astro Pi takes photos of the earth from the window of the International Space Station

The Challenge has two missions: Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab. The more advanced one, Mission Space Lab, invites teams of students and young people under 19 years of age to enter by submitting an idea for a scientific experiment to be run on the Astro Pi units.

ESA and the Raspberry Pi Foundation would like to congratulate all the teams that participated in the European Astro Pi Challenge this year. A record-breaking number of more than 15000 people, from all 22 ESA Member States as well as Canada, Slovenia, and Malta, took part in this year’s challenge across both Mission Space Lab and Mission Zero!

Eleven teams have won Mission Space Lab 2018–2019

After designing their own scientific investigations and having their programs run aboard the International Space Station, the Mission Space Lab teams spent their time analysing the data they received back from the ISS. To complete the challenge, they had to write a short scientific report discussing their results and highlighting the conclusions of their experiments. We were very impressed by the quality of the reports, which showed a high level of scientific merit.

We are delighted to announce that, while it was a difficult task, the Astro Pi jury has now selected eleven winning teams, as well as highly commending four additional teams. The eleven winning teams won the chance to join an exclusive video call with ESA astronaut Frank De Winne. He is the head of the European Astronaut Centre in Germany, where astronauts train for their missions. Each team had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to ask Frank about his life as an astronaut.

And the winners are…

Firewatchers from Post CERN HSSIP Group, Portugal, used a machine learning method on their images to identify areas that had recently suffered from wildfires.

Go, 3.141592…, Go! from IES Tomás Navarro Tomás, Spain, took pictures of the Yosemite and Lost River forests and analysed them to study the effects of global drought stress. They did this by using indexes of vegetation and moisture to assess whether forests are healthy and well-preserved.

Les Robotiseurs from Ecole Primaire Publique de Saint-André d’Embrun, France, investigated variations in Earth’s magnetic field between the North and South hemispheres, and between day and night.

TheHappy.Pi from I Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Bolesława Krzywoustego w Słupsku, Poland, successfully processed their images to measure the relative chlorophyll concentrations of vegetation on Earth.

AstroRussell from Liceo Bertrand Russell, Italy, developed a clever image processing algorithm to classify images into sea, cloud, ice, and land categories.

Les Puissants 2.0 from Lycee International de Londres Winston Churchill, United Kingdom, used the Astro Pi’s accelerometer to study the motion of the ISS itself under conditions of normal flight and course correction/reboost maneuvers.

Torricelli from ITIS “E.Torricelli”, Italy, recorded images and took sensor measurements to calculate the orbital period and flight speed of the ISS followed by the mass of the Earth using Newton’s universal law of gravitation.

ApplePi from I Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Króla Stanisława Leszczyńskiego w Jaśle, Poland, compared their images from Astro Pi Izzy to historical images from 35 years ago and could show that coastlines have changed slightly due to erosion or human impact.

Spacethon from Saint Joseph La Salle Pruillé Le Chétif, France, tested their image-processing algorithm to identify solid, liquid, and gaseous features of exoplanets.

Stithians Rocket Code Club from Stithians CP School, United Kingdom, performed an experiment comparing the temperature aboard the ISS to the average temperature of the nearest country the space station was flying over.

Vytina Aerospace from Primary School of Vytina, Greece, recorded images of reservoirs and lakes on Earth to compare them with historical images from the last 30 years in order to investigate climate change.

Highly commended teams

We also selected four teams to be highly commended, and they will receive a selection of goodies from ESA Education and the Raspberry Pi Foundation:

Aguere Team from IES Marina Cebrián, Spain, investigated variations in the Earth’s magnetic field due to solar activity and a particular disturbance due to a solar coronal hole.

Astroraga from CoderDojo Trento, Italy, measured the magnetic field to investigate whether astronauts can still use a compass, just like on Earth, to orient themselves on the ISS.

Betlemites from Escoles Betlem, Spain, recorded the temperature on the ISS to find out if the pattern of a convection cell is different in microgravity.

Rovel In The Space from Scuola secondaria I grado A.Rosmini ROVELLO PORRO(Como), Italy, executed a program that monitored the pressure and would warn astronauts in case space debris or micrometeoroids collided with the ISS.

The next edition is not far off!

ESA and the Raspberry Pi Foundation would like to invite all school teachers, students, and young people to join the next edition of the challenge. Make sure to follow updates on the Astro Pi website and Astro Pi Twitter account to look out for the announcement of next year’s Astro Pi Challenge!

No Comments

Chat to Ada Lovelace via a Raspberry Pi

Our friends, 8 Bits and a Byte, have built a Historic Voicebot, allowing users to chat to their favourite historical figures.

It’s rather marvellous.

The Historic Voicebot

Have a chat with your favourite person from the past with the Historic Voicebot! With this interactive installation, you can talk to a historical figure through both chat and voice. Made using Dialogflow, Node.js, HTML Canvas, an AIY Voice Kit, a Raspberry Pi and a vintage phone.

All the skills

Coding? Check. Woodwork? Check. Tearing apart a Google AIY Kit in order to retrofit it into a vintage telephone while ensuring it can still pick up voice via the handset? Check, check, check – this project has it all.

The concept consists of two parts:

  • A touchscreen with animations of a historical figure. The touchscreen also displays the dialog and has buttons so people can ask an FAQ.
  • A physical phone that captures speech and gives audio output, so it can be used to ask questions and listen to the answer.

While Nicole doesn’t go into full detail in the video, the Ada animation uses Dialogflow, Node.js, and HTML Canvas to work, and pairs up with the existing tech in the Google AIY Kit.

And, if you don’t have an AIY Kit to hand, don’t worry; you can have the same functionality using a standard USB speaker and microphone, and Google Home running on a Raspberry Pi.

You can find a tutorial for the whole project on hackster.io.

Follow 8 Bits and a Byte

There are a lot of YouTube channels out there that don’t have the follow count we reckon they deserve, and 8 Bits and a Byte is one of them. So, head to their channel and click that subscribe button, and be sure to check out their other videos for some more Raspberry Pi goodness.

No Comments

An in-flight entertainment system that isn’t terrible

No Alex today; she’s tragically germ-ridden and sighing weakly beneath a heap of duvets on her sofa. But, in spite of it all, she’s managed to communicate that I should share Kyle‘s Raspberry Pi in-flight entertainment system with you.

I made my own IN-FLIGHT entertainment system! ft. Raspberry Pi

Corsair Ironclaw RGB Gaming Mouse: http://bit.ly/2vFwYw5 From poor A/V quality to lackluster content selection, in-flight entertainment centers are full of compromises. Let’s create our own using a Raspberry Pi 3 B+!

Kyle is far from impressed with the in-flight entertainment on most planes: the audio is terrible, the touchscreens are annoyingly temperamental, and the movie selection is often frustratingly limited. So, the night before a morning flight to visit family (congrats on becoming an uncle, Kyle! We trust you’ll use your powers only for good!), he hit upon the idea of building his own in-flight entertainment system, using stuff he already had lying around.

Yes, we know, he could just have taken a tablet with him. But we agree with him that his solution is way funner. It’s way more customisable too. Kyle’s current rushed prototype features a Raspberry Pi 3B+ neatly cable-tied into a drilled Altoids tin lid, which is fixed flush to the back of a 13.3-inch portable monitor with adhesive Velcro. He’s using VLC Media Player, which comes with Raspbian and supports a lot of media control functions straight out of the box; this made using his mouse and mini keyboard a fairly seamless experience. And a handy magnetic/suction bracket lets him put the screen in the back of the seat in front to the best possible use: as a mounting surface.

As Kyle says, “Is it ridiculous? I mean, yes, obviously it’s ridiculous, but would you ever consider doing something like this?”

4 Comments

Remembering Andy Baker

We are immensely sad to learn of the death, on 1 June, of Andy Baker, joint founder and organiser of the brilliant Cotswold Raspberry Jam. Andy had been suffering from brain cancer.

andy baker pistuffing

Together with co-founder Andrew Oakley, Andy worked incredibly hard to make the Cotswold Jam one of the most exciting Jams of all, with over 150 people of all ages attending its most popular events. He started working with Raspberry Pis back in 2012, and developed a seriously impressive degree of technical expertise: among his projects were a series of Pi-powered quadcopters, no less, including an autonomous drone. Many of us will forever associate Andy with a memorably fiery incident at the Raspberry Pi Big Birthday Weekend in 2016, which he handled with grace and good humour that eludes most of us:

Raspberry Pi Party Autonomous drone demo + fire

At the Raspberry Pi IV party and there is a great demo of an Autonomous drone which is very impressive with only using a Pi. However it caught on fire. But i believe it does actually work.

Andy maintained his involvement with the Raspberry Pi community, and especially the Cotswold Jam, for several years while living with a brain tumour, and shared his skills and enthusiasm with hundreds of others. He was at the heart of the Raspberry Pi community. When our patron, His Royal Highness the Duke of York, kindly hosted a reception at St. James’s Palace in October 2016 to recognise the Raspberry Pi community, Andy joined us to celebrate in style:

Cotswold Jam on Twitter

@ben_nuttall @DougGore @PiStuffing @rjam_chat Cheers, Ben! Fab photo of Prince Andrew being ignored by @davejavupride & Andy Baker @PiStuffing who are too busy drinking… “It’s what he would have wanted…” :-) https://t.co/FK7sk1CoDs

Andy suggested that, if people would like to make a donation in his name, they support his local school’s IT department, somewhere else he used to volunteer. The department isn’t able to accept online donations, but cheques in pounds sterling can be made out to “Gloucestershire County Council” and posted to a local funeral director who will collect and forward them:

Andy Baker memorial fund
c/o Blackwells of Cricklade
Thames House
Thames Lane
Cricklade
SN6 6BH

We owe Andy immense gratitude for all his work to help people learn and have a great time with Raspberry Pi. We were very lucky indeed to have him as part of our community. We will miss him.

10 Comments

Playback your favourite records with Plynth

Use album artwork to trigger playback of your favourite music with Plynth, the Raspberry Pi–powered, camera-enhanced record stand.

Plynth Demo

This is “Plynth Demo” by Plynth on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

Record playback with Plynth

Plynth uses a Raspberry Pi and Pi Camera Module to identify cover artwork and play the respective album on your sound system, via your preferred streaming service or digital library.

As the project’s website explains, using Plynth is pretty simple. Just:

  • Place a n LP, CD, tape, VHS, DVD, piece of artwork – anything, really – onto Plynth
  • Plynth uses its built-in camera to scan and identify the work
  • Plynth starts streaming your music on your connected speakers or home stereo system

As for Plynth’s innards? The stand houses a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and Camera Module, and relies on “a combination of the Google Vision API and OpenCV, which is great because there’s a lot of documentation online for both of them”, states the project creator, Jono Matusky, on Reddit.

Other uses

Some of you may wonder why you wouldn’t have your records with your record player and, as such, use that record player to play those records. If you are one of these people, then consider, for example, the beautiful Damien Rice LP I own that tragically broke during a recent house move. While I can no longer play the LP, its artwork is still worthy of a place on my record shelf, and with Plynth I can still play the album as well.

In addition, instead of album artwork to play an album, you could use photographs, doodles, or type to play curated playlists, or, as mentioned on the website, DVDs to play the movies soundtrack, or CDs to correctly select the right disc in a disc changer.

Convinced or not, I think what we can all agree on is that Plynth is a good-looking bit of kit, and at Pi Towers look forward to seeing where they project leads.

1 Comment

Ghost-hunting in schools with Raspberry Pi | Hello World #9

In Hello World issue 9, out today, Elliott Hall and Tom Bowtell discuss The Digital Ghost Hunt: an immersive theatre and augmented reality experience that takes a narrative-driven approach in order to make digital education accessible.The Digital Ghost Hunt - Raspberry Pi Hello World

The Digital Ghost Hunt combines coding education, augmented reality, and live performance to create an immersive storytelling experience. It begins when a normal school assembly is disrupted by the unscheduled arrival of Deputy Undersecretary Quill of the Ministry of Real Paranormal Hygiene, there to recruit students into the Department’s Ghost Removal Section. She explains that the Ministry needs the students’ help because children have the unique ability to see and interact with ghostly spirits.

The Digital Ghost Hunt - Raspberry Pi Hello World

Under the tutelage of Deputy Undersecretary Quill and Professor Bray (the Ministry’s chief scientist), the young ghost-hunters learn how to program and use their own paranormal detectors. These allow students to discover ghostly traces, translate Morse code using flickering lights, and find messages left in ultraviolet ectoplasm. Meanwhile, the ghost communicates through a mixture of traditional theatrical effects and the poltergeist potential of smart home technology. Together, students uncover the ghost’s identity, discover her reason for haunting the building, unmask a dastardly villain, find a stolen necklace, clear the ghost’s name, right an old wrong, and finally set the ghost free.

The Digital Ghost Hunt - Raspberry Pi Hello World

The project conducted two successful test performances at the Battersea Arts Centre in South London in November 2018, funded by a grant from AHRC’s New Immersive Experiences Programme, led by Mary Krell of Sussex University. Its next outing will be at York Theatre Royal in August.

Adventures in learning

The Digital Ghost Hunt arose out of a shared interest in putting experimentation and play at the centre for learners. We felt that the creative, tinkering spirit of earlier computing — learning how to program BASIC on an Atari 800XL to create a game, for example — was being supplanted by a didactic and prescriptive approach to digital learning. KIT Theatre’s practice — creating classroom adventures that cast pupils as heroes in missions — is also driven by a less trammelled, more experiment-led approach to learning.

We believe that the current Computer Science curriculum isn’t engaging enough for students. We wanted to shift the context of how computer science is perceived, from ‘something techy and boyish’ back to the tool of the imagination that it should be. We did this by de-emphasising the technology itself and, instead, placing it in the larger context of a ghost story. The technology becomes a tool to navigate the narrative world — a means to an end rather than an end in itself. This helps create a more welcoming space for students who are bored or intimidated by the computer lab: a space of performance, experiment, and play.

Ghosts and machines

The device we built for the students was the SEEK Ghost Detector, made from a Raspberry Pi and a micro:bit, which Elliot stapled together. The micro:bit was the device’s interface, which students programmed using the block-based language MakeCode. The Raspberry Pi handled the heavier technical requirements of the show, and communicated them to the micro:bit in a form students could use. The detector had no screen, only the micro:bit’s LEDs. This meant that students’ attention was focused on the environment and what the detector could tell them about it, rather than having their attention pulled to a screen to the exclusion of the ‘real’ world around them.

In addition to the detector, we used a Raspberry Pi to make ordinary smart home technology into our poltergeist. It communicated with the students using effects such as smart bulbs that flashed in Morse code, which the students could then decode on their devices.

To program their detectors, students took part in a series of four lessons at school, focused on thinking like a programmer and the logic of computing. Two of the lessons featured significant time spent programming the micro:bit. The first focused on reading code on paper, and students were asked to look out for any bugs. The second had students thinking about what the detector will do, and acting out the steps together, effectively ‘performing’ the algorithm.

We based the process on KIT Theatre’s Adventures in Learning model, and its Theory of Change:

  • Disruption: an unexpected event grabs attention, creating a new learning space
  • Mission: a character directly asks pupils for their help in completing a mission
  • Achievement: pupils receive training and are given agency to successfully complete the mission

The Ghost Hunt

During these lessons, Deputy Undersecretary Quill kept in touch with the students via email, and the chief scientist sent them instructional videos. Their work culminated in their first official assignment: a ghost haunting the Battersea Arts Centre — a 120-year-old former town hall. After arriving, students were split into four teams, working together. Two teams analysed evidence at headquarters, while the others went out into places in the building where we’d hidden ghostly traces that their detectors would discover. The students pooled their findings to learn the ghost’s story, and then the teams swapped roles. The detectors were therefore only one method of exploring the narrative world. But the fact that they’d learned some of the code gave students a confidence in using the detectors — a sense of ownership. During one performance, one of the students pointed to a detector and said: “I made that.”

Future of the project

The project is now adapting the experience into a family show, in partnership with Pilot Theatre, premiering in York in summer 2019. We aim for it to become the core of an ecosystem of lessons, ideas, and activities — to engage audiences in the imaginative possibilities of digital technology.

You can find out more about the Digital Ghost Hunt on their website, which also includes rather lovely videos that Vimeo won’t let me embed here.

Hello World issue 9

The brand-new issue of Hello World is out today, and available right now as a free PDF download from the Hello World website.

Hello World issu 9

UK-based educators can also sign up to receive Hello World as printed magazine FOR FREE, direct to their door, by signing up here. And those outside the UK, educator or not, can subscribe to receive new issues of Hello World in their inbox on the day of release.

1 Comment

Driverless cars run by Raspberry Pi

Could the future of driverless cars be shaped by Raspberry Pi? For undergraduate researchers at the University of Cambridge, the answer is a resounding yes!

Can cars talk to each other?

A fleet of driverless cars working together to keep traffic moving smoothly can improve overall traffic flow by at least 35 percent, researchers have shown. The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, programmed a small fleet of miniature robotic cars to drive on a multi-lane track and observed how the traffic flow changed when one of the cars stopped.

So long, traffic!

By using Raspberry Pis and onboard sensors to program scale-model versions of commercially available cars, undergraduate researchers have built a fleet of driverless cars that ‘talk to each other’. They did this because they are studying how driverless technology can help reduce traffic incidents on our roads.

Cambridge University Driverless cars using Raspberry Pi

The researchers investigated how a car stalled on a multi-lane track affects the buildup of traffic, and how communication between driverless cars can prevent these buildups.

Cambridge University Driverless cars using Raspberry Pi

When the cars acted independently of each other, a stalled car caused other vehicles in the same lane to slow or stop in order to merge into the adjacent lane. This soon led to queues forming along the track. But when the cars communicated via Raspberry Pis, they could tell each other about obstacles on the track, and this allowed cars to shift lanes with the cooperation of other road users.

The researchers recently presented their paper on the subject at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2019) in Montréal, Canada. You can find links to their results, plus more information, on the University of Cambridge blog.

8 Comments

Retrofit a handheld Casio portable TV with a Raspberry Pi

What do we say to the god of outdated tech? Not today! Revive an old portable television with a Raspberry Pi 3!

Pocket televisions

In the late 1980s, when I was a gadget-savvy kid, my mother bought me a pocket TV as a joint Christmas and birthday present. The TV’s image clarity was questionable, its sound tinny, and its aerial so long that I often poked myself and others in the eye while trying to find a signal. Despite all this, it was one of the coolest, most futuristic things I’d ever seen, and I treasured it. But, as most tech of its day, the pocket TV no longer needed: I can watch TV in high definition on my phone — a device half the size, with a screen thrice as large, and no insatiable hunger for AA batteries.

So what do we do with this old tech to save it from the tip?

We put a Raspberry Pi in it, of course!

JaguarWong’s Raspberry Pi 3 pocket TV!

“I picked up a broken Casio TV-400 for the princely sum of ‘free’ a few weeks back. And I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it,” imgur user JaguarWong states in the introduction for the project.

I got the Pi for Christmas a couple of years back and have never really had any plans for it. Not long after I got it, I picked up the little screen from eBay to play with but again, with no real purpose in mind — but when I got the pocket TV everything fell into place.

Isn’t it wonderful when things fall so perfectly into place?

Thanks to an online pinout guide, JW was able to determine how to  connect the screen and the Raspberry Pi; fortunately, only a few jumper wires were needed — “which was handy given the limits on space.”

With slots cut into the base of the TV for the USB and Ethernet ports, the whole project fit together like a dream, with little need for modification of the original housing.

The final result is wonderful. And while JW describes the project as “fun, if mostly pointless”, we think it’s great — another brilliant example of retrofitting old tech with Raspberry Pi!

10/10 would recommend to a friend.

No Comments

An opportunity to reach thousands with the Raspberry Pi

Dr Bob Brown is a former professor who taught at Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University. He holds a doctorate in computer information systems. Bob is also a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator, and continues to provide exceptional classroom experiences for K-12 students. The moment his students have that “Aha!” feeling is something he truly values, and he continues to enjoy that experience in his K-12 classroom visits.

After retiring from teaching computing in 2017, Bob continued his school visits, first on an informal basis, and later as an official representative of KSU’s College of Computing and Software Engineering (CCSE). Keen to learn more about K-12 Computing, Bob applied to the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Picademy program, and attended Picademy Atlanta in 2018. Here’s his story of how he has since gone on to lead several Raspberry Pi Teachers’ Workshops, inspiring educators and students alike.

“I couldn’t have done this if I had not attended Picademy” — Bob Brown

“I was amazed at the excitement and creativity that Picademy and the Raspberry Pi created among the teachers who attended,” Bob says. “After reading about the number of applicants for limited Picademy positions, I realized there was unmet demand. I began to wonder whether we could do something similar at the CCSE.”

Bob spent over a hundred hours developing instructional material, and raised over $2,000 from Southern Polytechnic alumni. With the money he raised, Bob conducted a pilot workshop for half a dozen teachers in the autumn of 2018. The workshop was free for participants, and covered material similar to Picademy, but in a one-day format. Participants were also given a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and a parts pack. Bob says, “I couldn’t have done this if I had not attended Picademy and been able to start with the Picademy material from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.”

“[The CCSE] helps improve access, awareness, and sustainability to middle and high school students and teachers.” — Jon Preston

The Dean of CCSE at KSU, Dr Jon Preston, was so impressed with the results of the pilot workshop that he authorised a formal fundraising program and two additional workshops in the spring of 2019. Four more workshops have also been scheduled for the summer.

“The College of Computing and Software Engineering at KSU STEM+Computing project helps improve access, awareness, and sustainability to middle and high school students and teachers. CCSE faculty and undergraduate students build learning materials and deliver these materials on-site to schools in an effort to increase the number of students who are energized by computing and want to study computing to help improve their careers and the world. Given the price and power of the Raspberry Pi computers, these devices are a perfect match for our project in the local schools,” says Preston.

The teachers really enjoyed the workshop, and left incredibly inspired.

Teachers came from all over Georgia and from as far away as Mississippi to attend the workshops. For some of the teachers, it was their first time exploring the concept of physical computing, and the hands-on approach to the workshop helped them set their own pace. The teachers really enjoyed the workshop, and left incredibly inspired. “Teacher workshops have a multiplier effect,” says Brown. “If I teach 30 students, I’ve reached 30 students; if I teach 30 teachers, I potentially reach thousands of students over a period of years.”

Another great contribution to the program was the addition of college student facilitators, who provided individual support to the teachers throughout the day, making it easier for everyone to have the assistance they needed.

By the end of the summer, more than 150 K-12 teachers will have participated in a CCSE Raspberry Pi Teachers’ Workshop.

The Raspberry Pi Teachers’ Workshops have become a regular part of the outreach efforts of the CCSE. Grants from State Farm Insurance, 3M Corporation, and a few very generous individual gifts keep the workshops free for K-12 teachers, who also take home a Raspberry Pi and extra components and parts. Participants are also invited to join an online forum where they can exchange ideas and support each other. By the end of the summer, more than 150 K-12 teachers will have participated in a CCSE Raspberry Pi Teachers’ Workshop. You can find more information about the workshops here.

7 Comments