Education, space, hacking and explosions – Bett 2015

Last Tuesday the Raspberry Pi education team beetled down to the ExCeL London for Bett, the gargantuan learning technology event. We spent the next four days on our new and fabulous stand talking, educating, demo-ing, entertaining, showboating, dancing and gerrymandering. There were astounding demonstrations of technological ingenuity, feats of strength and curious electro-mechanical devices.

Ready for action: the education team plus James Robinson (leftest), Martin O'Hanlon (bluest) and Sam Aaron (tallest).

Ready for action: the education team plus James Robinson (leftest), Martin O’Hanlon (bluest) and Sam Aaron (tallest). Clive is weeping openly but laughing inside.

We were happily overrun by what seemed like most of the Raspberry Pi community, many of whom made guest appearances in our back to back schedule. We ran hands-on-workshops in Minecraft Pi, Sonic Pi, physical computing, games programming and much more. We stormed the BETT arena with Astro Pi and Fran Scott’s pyro-computing show. We ran about and hooted. It was a brilliant show. My post-show brain is far too fried to write so here are some of our favourite bits:

Carrie Anne kicks off the show with who the Raspberry Pi Foundation are and what we do

Carrie Anne kicks off the show with who the Raspberry Pi Foundation are and what we do

Set-up day. Dave says this is the only place he could get electricity.

Set-up day. Dave claims that this is the only place he could get electricity.

I am not a number, I am a free man.

I am not a number, I am a free man.

Laura Dixon's (@codeboom) students from the Royal High School Bath talking about  Minecraft coding and their computing club

Laura Dixon’s (@codeboom) students from the Royal High School Bath talking about Minecraft coding and their computing club

Dr Sam Aaron, creator of Sonic Pi, showing people how to create beautiful music with code

Dr Sam Aaron, creator of Sonic Pi, showing people how to create beautiful music with code

Stunned silence then cheering: a blackout at Bett. (Nothing to do with us, honest.)

Stunned silence then cheering: a blackout at Bett. (Nothing to do with us, honest.)

Dave Honess introducing Astro Pi and the ISS. His pitch-roll-yaw demo is now legend https://twitter.com/Raspberry_Pi/status/558960988096307200

Dave Honess introducing Astro Pi and the ISS. His pitch-roll-yaw demo is now legend

Lance Howarth and Astro Pi on Bett Arena

Lance Howarth and Astro Pi on Bett Arena

My favourite moment was being rushed for Astro Pi leaflets at the end of the opening ceremony of the main arena. I have a great feeling about this whole thing — Dave Honess

A first for Bett arena we think: Fran Scott exploding hydrogen -filled balloons in the Arena.

A first for Bett we think: Fran Scott exploding hydrogen-filled balloons in the Arena.

Of course it’s not so easy to blow up stuff in the classroom so we made a safe version, the Balloon Pi-tay Popper:

Fran demonstrating the explosive-free Balloon Pi-tay popper resource.

Fran demonstrating the explosive-free Balloon Pi-tay popper resource.

Connecting Minecraft Pi to the real world: @whaleygeek's Big Red Button of Doom!

Connecting Minecraft Pi to the real world: @whaleygeek’s Big Red Button of Doom!

Our friends from Pimoroni show of their brilliant Flotilla

Our friends from Pimoroni show off their brilliant Flotilla

Karl-Ludwig Butte from BUTTE Verlag puts the BitScope Micro through it's paces

Karl-Ludwig Butte from BUTTE Verlag puts the BitScope Micro through its paces

Andrew Mullolland, a student at Queen's University Belfast, and his LTSP classroom management system for Raspberry Pi

Andrew Mulholland, a student at Queen’s University Belfast, and his LTSP classroom management system for Raspberry Pi

Stewards Academy student @jaymegisbourne demonstrating his Porta-Pi

Stewards Academy student @jaymegisbourne demonstrating his Porta-Pi

Raspberry Pi Certified Educators Cat Lamin and Tom Sale show how easy it is to use Pis in Primary Schools

Raspberry Pi Certified Educators Cat Lamin and Tom Sale show how easy it is to use Pis in primary schools

Carrie Anne picks up her Best Author Award for Adventures in Raspberry Pi...

Carrie Anne picks up her well-deserved Best Author award for Adventures in Raspberry Pi…

...and celebrates in style with David Whale (@whaleygeek)

…and then celebrates in style with David Whale (@whaleygeek)

And that was that. Four days of manic educational goodness.

Thanks to CPC for supporting us, we couldn’t have done it without them. We had a fabulous stand and a great team across the way to give hardware advice and support.

A huge thanks to everyone who gave talks and demos and who helped out on the stand including: Sam Aaron, Laura Dixon, Martin O Hanlon, Alasdair Davies, Dave Honess & UK Space, Eliot Williams, Paul Beech, Jon Williamson, Phil Howard, David Whale, Tim Mockford, Simon Belshaw, Lauren Hyams, Fran Scott, Mike Horne, Tim Richardson, Jamie Mann, Matthew Parry, Cat Lamin, Tom Sale, Wolfram, Stephen Norbury, Naturebytes, Samantha Lubbe, Barry Byford, Karl-Ludwig Butte, Robin Newman, Andrew Mulholland, Spencer Organ, Geraldine Wright, Stewards Academy Raspberry Pi Club, and Cefn Hoile. If I’ve missed anyone then sorry and please email me!

Lastly a big thank you to all of the teachers, students, parents, educators and anyone else who came to see us. See you again next year!

The last word goes to James Robinson who sums it up nicely:

This year I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the BETT show with the Raspberry Pi Education Team, I’ve been to BETT show a number of times in the past but never as an exhibitor. The four days were brilliant, being able to showcase some of the awesome projects that can be done with the Pi, sharing the FREE resources made by the foundation and helping teachers get hands on experience.

For me one of the highlights was being able to share some of my own pupils’ work and experiences with the Pi, as well as chatting to other teachers about their experiences. It was great to see so many many people from the Pi community coming to support the Foundation team. Conversations and presentations focused on learning in its broadest sense and using technology to create and inspire rather than simply coding.

James about to send up a time-lapse Pi on a helium balloon to spy on other stands.

James about to send up a time-lapse Pi on a helium balloon to spy on other stands.

What most surprised me is the number of people from around the world that had come to the show and were impressed at what we in the UK were doing with the Computing curriculum and in particular the approach the RPF were taking. Many people were surprised at how much the Foundation does for free, including resources, competitions and of course Picademy.

Among my favorite moments were Dave’s excellent explanation techniques; Ben’s nonchalant coffee drinking and Clive’s waste not want not attitude to helium! I look forward joining in next year (if they’ll have me back).