Coolest Projects: it’s for the whole family!

Wherever in the world I meet members of the Raspberry Pi community, I am always amazed by their enthusiasm for learning and making. And I often meet families that are enjoying computing together: kids who have introduced their parents to something that’s a whole new world for them, adults who are sharing a hobby they love with their children or grandchildren or nieces and nephews, and whole families that are learning alongside one another.

Coolest Projects logo Raspberry Pi

Earlier this summer, I met Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Heidi Baynes at Picademy in Denver, Colorado, and asked her about the Coolest Projects North America showcase event, which she and her son will be attending to on September 23 in Santa Ana, California. We hope you’ll join us there too, and to help you plan and build your own project to showcase, we’ve created a handy step-by-step guide for you to follow. Heidi and I talked about how she got involved with the Raspberry Pi community, and what she and her son are looking forward to at Coolest Projects.

Christina Foust: Heidi, what makes you excited about Coolest Projects?

Heidi Baynes: I love the idea of bringing kids together from all over North America to share their excitement about computer science and digital making. While I love all things Raspberry Pi, I like that this event includes projects from a variety of different sources. I’m excited to see projects built with Arduino, micro:bit, and other microcontrollers. I also can’t wait to see the digital creations that students have programmed as part of their coding classes and coding clubs. It’ll be a great celebration of computer science, robotics, and coding classes throughout North America.

CF: I can’t wait either! We’ve got some great projects registered. You’ve been part of the Raspberry Pi community for a few years. Can you tell me what first got you involved?

HB: As an educator, I was curious about Raspberry Pi and what it could mean for students and education. I applied to attend Picademy in the summer of 2016, and I was thrilled to be accepted to the Austin cohort. It was the most enriching professional development opportunity that I have ever attended, and I couldn’t wait to get back to my district and share everything I had learned. I’ve been lucky enough to continue my Picademy journey as a facilitator in Providence, Irvine, and just recently, in Denver. It’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to experience Picademy across the country and connect with so many wonderful educators!

CF: We love that you’re a part of the Raspberry Pi community, and we’re excited to have you join us for Coolest Projects. Your son is registered to present his project, Star Wars Piano. Where did the idea for his project come from?

HB: Music in general is a big focus in our house, so we purchased the Piano HAT to explore music and coding. As we searched through soundbites, we ran across a bank of Star Wars sounds and knew what we had to do. My son has talked about incorporating the piano into a costume so that different sound effects could be easily played while in character.

Heidi Baynes on Twitter

My son and I had a blast working on this Star Wars themed 🎹🎩 project. #picademy #pichatusa #piparty @bquentin3 @kboyceq https://t.co/mYOlVp5UxX

CF: I love Star Wars! What is he most excited about for Coolest Projects?

HB: He loves seeing what other kids have done and gets inspired by their creativity. In fact, as we’ve been talking about Coolest Projects and preparing his Star Wars Piano, he’s decided that he’d also like to try building a robotic car to share at the event. We’ve purchased the kit, and hopefully he’ll have time to complete it so he can share that project as well.

CF: I love that he’s inspired to keep building. We’d love to have him share the car too. What is he doing to get ready to share his Star Wars Piano project?

HB: He’s been adding a few more sound effects to his piano and is hoping to add another octave of sounds before he shares it at the event. We’ve talked about him creating images on the Sense HAT to play along with the sounds, so we’ll see what happens between now and then!

CF: That’s super exciting! I can’t wait to see how the project evolves. Do you have any advice for educators or parents with kids considering Coolest Projects?

HB: Stop considering and sign up! Don’t hesitate to come and share what you are working on, no matter how big or small the project might be. The Raspberry Pi and CS educator community is the most welcoming group of people. You and your students are sure to walk away with a few new ideas and some questions answered. We all learn from what others are doing. Your project could be the spark for someone else!

Coolest Projects North America

Coolest Projects will take place the Discovery Cube Orange County on September 23, 2018, and projects from young people with all levels of experience are welcome: we love to celebrate what kids and teens have created, whether they’re beginners showcasing their first projects, or seasoned makers! Find out how to attend the event and register your project at coolestprojects.org/northamerica.