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!

Argon ONE: a super case for your Raspberry Pi

The friendly people at Argon40, one of our Approved Resellers in Hong Kong, have an already-successful Kickstarter on the go for their Argon ONE Raspberry Pi case. I’ve got one of them on my desk at the moment. It’s a very pleasing object. “That’s quite nice,” enthuses Gordon, who isn’t very good at enthusing.

The Argon ONE: look at the shiny!

The Argon ONE is a nifty little aluminium-alloy case that offers well thought-through cable, power, and temperature management. We chatted to Joseph from Argon40 about the team’s development process, and he explained:

When we started the project, we initially designed the product to suit our needs based on our experiences of playing around with the Raspberry Pi. We wanted a case that is nice to look and at the same time has all the basic features that we loved about the Raspberry Pi: small footprint, access to GPIO, low power consumption. Then we looked into the nice-to-have stuff like good heat dissipation for better performance, a proper shut-down, and a form factor that is elegant but not extravagant.

Clicky magnets

What I find particularly satisfying about the Argon ONE is its GPIO access. It has a neat recess with clear pin labels and access to an inbuilt, colour-coded header that connects to your Pi’s GPIO pins. When you’re not using the pins, you probably want to keep them away from dust, spilled coffee, and the gross candy-corn M&Ms that Alex sometimes throws at you for literally no reason. The Argon ONE helps you out here: a cover fits perfectly over the GPIO recess, held in place by magnets that are just exactly strong enough for the job. Being a fidgeter, I find that this lends itself to compulsive clicking.

*click* *click* *click*

Injection moulding

We like the build quality here, especially at this price point (it’s HK$157, US$20, or GB£15, and early-bird pledges are cheaper). The Argon40 team was keen to use alumnium for the upper part of the case, for robustness and durability along with good looks; that proved a challenge, given that they wanted to keep the case affordable. “Fortunately, we found a factory that allowed us to do aluminum-alloy injection instead of going for the CNC option,” says Joseph.

“Have you tried turning if off and on again?”

The Raspberry Pi doesn’t have a power button, and we hear a lot from people who’d like it to. Happily, our community has come up with lots of ways to add one: this case, for example. Once you install Argon40’s shutdown script in Raspbian, pressing the case’s power button will run the script to shut the Pi down cleanly, then cut the power.

Find out more on Kickstarter — this campaign is well worth a look if you’re after a decent case. Back to Joseph for the last word, with which we heartily agree:

At the end of the day, our goal is for people to have their Raspberry Pis on top of their work desks, study tables, and workstations and in their living rooms, instead of keeping their barebones Pi tucked inside a drawer. Because as the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind,” which means that if they don’t see their Raspberry Pi, they won’t be able to tinker around with it or play with it to create projects.

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Announcing Coolest Projects 2019

Coolest Projects is the world’s leading technology fair for young people. It’s the science fair for the digital age, where thousands of young people showcase amazing projects that they’ve built using digital technologies. If you want to meet the innovators of the future, this is the place to be, so today we’re really excited to announce three Coolest Projects events in 2019.

Will you be attending Coolest Projects 2019?

Dates are now live for Coolest Projects 2019. Will you be joining us in the UK, Republic of Ireland, or North America?

I’ll never forget my first Coolest Projects

My first experience was in Dublin in 2016. I had been told Coolest Projects was impressive, but I was blown away by the creativity, innovation, and sheer effort that everyone had put in. Every bit as impressive as the technology was the sense of community, particularly among the young people. Girls and boys, with different backgrounds and levels of skill, travelled from all over the world to show off what they’d made and to be inspired by each other.

Igniting imaginations

Coolest Projects began in 2012, the work of CoderDojo volunteers Noel King and Ben Chapman. The first event was held in Dublin, and this city remains the location of the annual Coolest Projects International event. Since then, it has sparked off events all over the world, organised by the community and engaging thousands more young people.

This year, the baton passed to the Raspberry Pi Foundation. We’ve just completed our first season managing the Coolest Projects events and brand, including the first-ever UK event, which took place in April, and a US event that we held at Discovery Cube in Orange County on 23 September. We’ve had a lot of fun!

We’ve seen revolutionary ideas, including a robot guide dog for blind people and a bot detector that could disrupt the games industry. We’ve seen kids’ grit and determination in overcoming heinous obstacles such as their projects breaking in transit and having to rebuild everything from scratch on the morning of the event.

We’ve also seen hundreds of young people who are levelling up, being inspired to learn more, and bringing more ambitious and challenging projects to every new event.

Coolest Projects 2019

We want to expand Coolest Projects and provide a space for even more young people to showcase their digital makes. Today we’re announcing the dates for three Coolest Projects events that are taking place in 2019:

  • Coolest Projects UK, Saturday 2 March, The Sharp Project, Manchester
  • Coolest Projects USA, Saturday 23 March, Discovery Cube Orange County, California
  • Coolest Projects International, Sunday 5 May, RDS, Dublin, Ireland

These are the events that we’ll be running directly, and there will also be community-led events happening in Milan, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Bulgaria.

Project registration for all three events we’re leading opens in January 2019, so you’ve got plenty of time to plan for your next big idea.

If you need some inspiration, there are plenty of places to start. You could check out our How to make a project worksheets worksheets, or get try out one of our online projects before you plan your own.

Head to coolestprojects.org to find out about the 2019 events and how you can get involved!

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Your face, 14 ft tall: image mapping with As We Are

While at World Maker Faire New York last weekend, I found myself chatting to a rather lovely gentleman by the name of Mac Pierce. During our conversation, Mac mentioned a project he’d worked on called As We Are, an interactive art installation located in the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

as we are

“So it’s this 14-foot head covered in LEDs…”, Mac began, and after his brief explanation, I found myself grabbing nearby makers to have him tell them about the project too. I was hooked! I hadn’t even seen photos of the sculpture, yet I was hooked. And true to his word, Mac had the press release for As We Are sitting in my inbox when I returned to Pi Towers.

So here is it:

The Greater Columbus Convention Center: “As We Are” – Creating the Ultimate Selfie Machine

DCL, an award-winning fabricator of architectural specialties and custom experiential design elements, worked with artist Matthew Mohr to develop, engineer and fabricate this 14ft, 7,000lb, interactive digital sculpture. Featuring custom LED modules, an integrated 3D photobooth, 32 cameras, and a touch-screen display – this unique project combines technologies to present a seamless experience for visitors to display their own portrait on the sculpture.

As We Are

The brainchild of artist Matthew Mohr, As We Are was engineered and produced by DCL, an award-winning Boston-based fabricator whose greatest achievement to date, in my opinion at least, is hiring Mac Pierce.

as we are

YAY!

DCL built the 14-foot structure using 24 layers of aluminium ‘ribs’ covered in custom Sansi LED modules. These modules add up to an astounding 850000 individual LEDs, allowing for crisp detail of images displayed by the build.

as we are

When a visitor to the Convention Center steps inside the interactive sculpture, they’re met with a wall of 32 Raspberry Pis plus Camera Modules. The Pis use facial recognition software to 3D scan the visitor’s face and flattened the image, and then map the face across the outer surface of the structure.

Matthew Mohr was inspired to show off the diversity of Columbus, OH, while also creating a sense of oneness with As We Are. Combining technology and interaction, the sculpture has been called “the ultimate selfie machine”.

If you’re in or near Columbus and able to visit the installation, we’d love to see your photos, so please share them with us on our social media platforms.

Raspberry Pi facial mapping as we are

You see now why I was dumbstruck when Mac told me about this project, yes?

Always tell us

Had it not been for a chance encounter with Mac at Maker Faire, we may never have heard of As We Are. While Matthew Mohr and DCL installed the sculpture in 2017, very little fuss was made about the use of Raspberry Pis within it, and it completely slipped under our radar. So if you are working on a project for your business, as a maker, or for any other reason, and you’re using a Raspberry Pi, please make sure to let us know by emailing [email protected].

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Explore the depths with the PiCam Marine

This article from The MagPi issue 74 highlights the use of the Raspberry Pi Zero to build a marine camera for coral exploration. Get your copy of The MagPi in stores now, or download it as a free PDF here.

Raspberry Pi Picam Marine

The crew took 20 000 photos in total during the cruise.

Ecologists in Germany are deploying camera-equipped Pi Zero Ws off the coast of Norway to discover more about coral activity. Dr Autun Purser works in the Deep Sea Ecology and Technology group of the Alfred Wegener Institute. The group has a keen interest in cold-water corals, which are found in most European seas.

Raspberry Pi Picam Marine

Besides coral, they identified dozens of crabs.

“In the last three decades, we’ve started to understand these can form reefs whenever conditions are suitable for growth,” explains Autun. “During our cruise in the Skagerrak, we intended to map corals and see when, and under what conditions, they did most feeding.”

Feeding time

Their aim was to continue the development of “cheap camera systems which can be used for a range of applications in the deep sea, down to depths of at least 6000 metres. We investigated the use of Pi Zero W computers and [Raspberry Pi Camera Modules] to record video snippets of both the seafloor and any scientific devices that we place underwater, and we found the small size of the computers to be of great benefit to us.”

Raspberry Pi Picam Marine

The PiCam Marines are sent underwater in the deployment basket of a submarine. The captain, crew, and scientists aboard RV Poseidon cruise POS526 were also essential for the initial deployments.

The Pi Zero Ws and cameras are placed in strong, waterproof pressure containers, and powered by Li-ion batteries that can withstand the cold deep ocean conditions. “The WiFi connectivity allowed us to set up a router on deck to both initiate our cameras and, on retrieval from the sea-floor, download our collected images without having to reopen the pressure housings,” reveals Autun.

He and two colleagues programmed the camera system using Python 3 to turn on an LED light and take a maximum resolution image, at set times. It has proven “capable of imaging individual corals from 2 m distance, allowing us to tell if the tentacles were actively extended or not.”

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Picademy North America 2018: That’s a Wrap!

Hooray! We’re celebrating our third season leading educator training in North America. That’s 20 Picademy workshops in 11 cities with 791 happy teachers graduating as Raspberry Pi Certified Educators. This summer was particularly rich with successes, challenges, and lessons learned let’s take a closer look:

Andrew Collins on Twitter

That’s a wrap on #Picademy North America 2018! We welcomed over 300 educators in Denver, Jersey City, Atlanta and Seattle to the @Raspberry_Pi community. Congrats and go forth on your digital making journey! 😀🙌 https://t.co/aMyHr2KkuL

Picademy North America

Picademy is a free, two-day training program that helps educators jump start their digital making journey. On day one, educators explore digital making with the Raspberry Pi computer: blinking LEDs, taking pictures, making motors spin, sensing their environment, and composing music. On day two, they take what they’ve learned from these experiences and collaborate with a team to design and build their own real world project.

Picademy at Liberty Science Center (June 18, 2018 – June 22, 2018)

A total of 80 educators from all over the globe visited Liberty Science Center the week of June 18 – 22 to learn coding and technology skills as part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Picademy program. The week of learning culminated in a programming design challenge where the participants created projects using their new skills via the Raspberry Pi computer.

Big interest

We received over 1400 applications for this year’s program, a 40% increase from last year. This enormous interest came from educators in North America and across the globe; we received applications from 49 different U.S. States and 20 countries. And it’s not just classroom teachers either. More than half of our applicants worked outside of a traditional classroom environment, as librarians, after-school providers, teacher trainers, museum educators, and technology coordinators. Out of this pool, we accepted 313 educators to our Picademy 2018 workshops in Denver, Jersey City, Atlanta, and Seattle.

Big impact

We want to make sure that the work we do is having the impact we we intend, so we ask educators who come to Picademy about their skills, experience, and confidence before they participate in the program and afterwards. Before Picademy, only 13% said they felt confident using using a Raspberry Pi computer. After attending, this number rose significantly, with 78% now confident using Raspberry Pi. This increase in confidence matched their sense of professional growth: the majority of educators said that learning new content and gaining new skills were the most memorable parts of their Picademy experience.

Raspberry Pi Picademy North America 2018

We also had 100% of attendees indicate that they would recommend Picademy to a colleague, and 70% report that they are very likely to share their learnings with fellow educators. This means an even greater number of educators, those who work alongside Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, will hopefully be impacted by Picademy workshop offerings.

“Picademy was such an engaging and hands-on experience. Every workshop and project was practical, tangible and most importantly, fun” — Amanda Valledor, Boston, MA

Next steps

What do educators go on to accomplish after Picademy? We’re actively gathering this data as we follow up with our certified educators, but based on feedback surveys we know that 58% of this season’s attendees are interested in starting a Code Club or CoderDojo in their community. We also saw that over 70% of educators are interested in leading a Raspberry Pi event or training; this could mean a Raspberry Jam, an educator workshop, or a Raspberry Pi-themed summer camp. Our team will continue to support each and every Raspberry Pi Certified Educator as they continue on their digital making journey.

Carrie Northcott on Twitter

Thank you @Raspberry_Pi for allowing each of us to come and get “debugged”, rewrite our “code”, and “program” our future moves as educators! #picademy #raspberrypi #picademyseattle #edtech @iluvteaching72 @MrsNatto https://t.co/37jMYDZThF

Special thanks to Dana and everyone else who helped to lead an awesome Picademy program this season. If you’d like to take a deeper dive, feel free to explore all of our data and findings in the Picademy North America 2018 Report.

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MagPi 74: Build a Raspberry Pi laptop!

Hey folks! Rob from The MagPi here with the good news that a brand new issue is out today, with a slightly new look. The MagPi 74 shows you how to build a Pi‑powered laptop, and gives tips on how to recycle an old laptop to use with Pi.

magpi 74

The laptop is not spooky, but the Halloween projects definitely are

We’ve got a pretty simple, tiny laptop build that you can follow along with, which will easily slip into your pocket once it’s completed. We also cover the basic Raspberry Pi Desktop experience, in case you fancy installing the x86 version to bring new life to an old laptop.

Welcome, foolish mortals…

I’m also very happy to announce that The MagPi Halloween projects feature is back this year! Put together by yours truly, Haunted Halloween Hacks should get you in the mood for the spookiest time of the year. October is the only month of the year that I’m allowed to make puns, so prepare yourself for some ghastly groaners.

magpi 74

Rob has unleashed his awful alliteration skills this issue, with some putrid puns

Still want more?

On top of all that, you can find more fantastic guides on making games in Python and in C/C++, along with our brand new Quickstart guide, a review of the latest Picade, and more inspiring projects than you can shake a Pi Zero at.

Qwerty the fish keeps this garden growing

magpi 74

Start making a Space Invaders clone with Pygame!

Get The MagPi 74

You can get The MagPi 74 today from WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda. If you live in the US, head over to your local Barnes & Noble or Micro Center in the next few days for a print copy. You can also get the new issue online from our store, or digitally via our Android or iOS apps. And don’t forget, there’s always the free PDF as well.

Rolling subscription offer!

Want to support the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the magazine? You can now take out a monthly £5 subscription to the magazine, effectively creating a rolling pre‑order system that saves you money on each issue.

The MagPi subscription offer — The MagPi 74

You can also take out a twelve-month print subscription and get a Pi Zero W plus case and adapter cables absolutely free! This offer does not currently have an end date.

We need you!

Issue 75 is next month, and we’re planning to showcase 75 amazing Raspberry Pi projects! We need your help to vote for the top 50, so please head to the voting page and choose your favourite project. Click on a project name to cast your vote for that project.

That’s it for now! Oh, and if you make any Raspberry Pi Halloween projects this year, send them to us on Twitter or via email.

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Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend 2019

For our birthday this year, we coordinated over 100 community-led Raspberry Jam events around the globe. In a few months’ time, Raspberry Pi will be seven years old – and to celebrate we’re hosting another Big Birthday Weekend, which takes place all over the world on 2-3 March 2019.

Last year’s event was a lot of fun! We sent out starter kits and extra birthday goodies to participating Jams, and even put together a tweeting Raspberry Pi photobooth for people to set up to share their events.

With the incredible support of the Raspberry Pi community, we were able to celebrate our sixth birthday in 40 countries, covering six continents – that is, every continent except Antarctica! Members of the Raspberry Pi Foundation team joined in with events in the UK, in California, across Europe, and elsewhere, despite unexpected UK snow storms.

Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend 2018

To celebrate the Raspberry Pi’s sixth birthday, we coordinated Raspberry Jams all over the world to take place over the Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend, 3-4 March 2018. A massive thank you to everyone who ran an event and attended.

For 2019, we’re hoping to go even bigger, and this is where you come in.

Get involved

If you’d like to run an event for our Big Birthday Weekend, please head over to the Big Birthday Weekend 2019 page and join our newsletter. That’s where we’ll provide updates on what’s going on and what you need to do to join in.

If this sounds like it might be your kind of thing, but you’ve never done it before, there’s plenty of time to get off to a gentle start and run a Jam before 2018 is out. When you join the newsletter, we’ll invite you to our Jam maker Slack community, where you can get support from us and from wonderful Jam makers all around the world. They have lots of help and advice to offer people who are just starting out with their first Jam, and you’ll be well rehearsed by the time the birthday weekend comes around.

As always, there will be cake. And if you can beat this edible Raspberry Pi from earlier this year, you have our utmost respect.

Start by downloading the Raspberry Jam Guidebook and checking out the Jam activity resources, branding pack, and more on our Jam page. And as ever, you can support the Raspberry Pi community online by following #RJam on Twitter.

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Networked knitting machine: not your average knit one, purl one

The moment we saw Sarah Spencer‘s knitted Stargazing tapestry, we knew we needed to know more. A couple of emails later, and here’s Sarah with a guest blog post telling you all you need to know about her hacking adventure with a 1980s knitting machine and a Raspberry Pi.

Knitting Printer! (slowest speed)

Printing a scarf on a Brother KM950i knitting machine from the 1980’s. To do this I have a Brother Motor arm to push the carriage back and forth and a homemade colour changer that automatically selects the colour on the left (the white and purple device with the LED).

Here’s Sarah…

Raspberry Pi: what’s there not to like? It’s powerful, compact, and oh so affordable! I used one as a portable media box attached to a pico projector for years. Setting one up as a media box is one of the most popular uses for them, but there’s so much more you can do.

Cue a 1980s Brother domestic knitting machine. Yep, you read that right. A knitting machine – to knit jumpers, hats, scarves, you name it. They don’t make domestic knitting machines any more, so a machine from the 1980s is about as modern as you can get. It comes with an onboard scanner to scan knitting patterns and a floppy drive port to back up your scans to an old floppy disk. Aah, the eighties – what a time to be alive!

Building a networked knitting machine

But this is an article about Raspberry Pi, right? So what does a 30-year-old knitting machine have to do with that? Well, I hacked my domestic knitting machine and turned it into a network printer with the help of a Raspberry Pi. By using a floppy drive emulator written in Python and a web interface, I can send an image to the Raspberry Pi over the network, preview it in a knitting grid, and tell it to send the knitting pattern to the knitting machine via the floppy drive port.

Sarah Spencer Networked knitting machine

OctoKnit

I call this set-up OctoKnit in honour of a more famous and widely used tool, OctoPrint for 3D printers, another popular application for Raspberry Pi.

Sarah Spencer Knitting Network Printer

I’ve made the OctoKnit web interface open source. You can find it on GitHub.

This project has been in the works for several years, and there’s been a few modifications to the knitting machine over that time. With the addition of a motor arm and an automatic colour changer, my knitting is getting very close to being hands-free. Here’s a photo of the knitting machine today, although the Raspberry Pi is hiding behind the machine in this shot:

Sarah Spencer Networked knitting machine

I’ve specialised in knitting multicolour work using a double-layered technique called double Jacquard, which requires two beds of needles. Hence the reason the machine has doubled in size from when I first started.

Knitting for Etsy

I made a thing that can make things, so I need to make something with it, right? Here are a few custom orders I’ve completed through my Etsy store:

Sarah Spencer Networked knitting machine

Stargazing

However, none of my previous works quite compares to my latest piece, Stargazing: a knitted tapestry. Knitted in seven panels stitched together by hand, the pattern on the Raspberry Pi is 21 times bigger than the memory available on the vintage knitting machine, so it’s knitted in 21 separate but seamless file transfers. It took over 100 hours of work and weighs 15kg.

Sarah Spencer Networked knitting machine

Stargazing is a celestial map of the night sky, featuring all 88 constellations across both Northern and Southern hemispheres. The line through the center is the Earth’s equator, projected out into space, with the sun, moon and planets of our solar system featured along it. The grey cloud is a representation of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Heart of Pluto on Twitter

Happy 6pm, Fri 31st Aug 2018 😊 The tapestry is installed and the planets in the sky have now aligned with those in the knitting

When I first picked up a Raspberry Pi and turned it over in my hand, marvelling at the computing power in such a small, affordable unit, I never imagined in my wildest dreams what I’d end up doing with it.

What will you do with your Raspberry Pi?

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Celebrating our translators!

As the world gets ready to celebrate International Translation Day on 30 September, we want to say thank you to our amazing community of volunteer translators. This talented bunch work very hard so that people around the world can learn digital making and computing in their native languages.

Can you help us translate our content?

If you speak an additional language to English, volunteering as a translator is an easy way to make a big difference.

Our translators

The #RPiTranslate community is growing every day, and at the moment we have around 370 volunteers. They are translating our learning projects into 50 languages – everything from Afrikaans, to Tamil, to Scots Gaelic! Projects in 26 of those languages are already available on the Raspberry Pi learning projects website, and we continually add more.

Our translators are all volunteers, and they come from various walks of life. They are students and professionals, translators and coders, young and retired, already passionate about our mission or completely new to it.

Abdulaziz is a language coordinator for the Arabic language team. He is finishing his doctoral research at the University of Toledo in the US, and will soon start working as an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. He translates for us because he believes our educational resources are great and he’d love to see them used by Arabic speakers of all ages.

Wojtek volunteers at a Code Club in Poland, and helps us translate our projects into Polish because he thinks translations are crucial for learning. When children can access lessons in their native language, they truly understand programming concepts, and that empowers them to experiment and create more.

getting started with raspberry pi

Cor is the main force behind all of our Dutch projects. He is a retired simulator designer and developer for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and volunteers at a hackerspace in the Netherlands. While teaching young people coding and robotics, he realised how difficult it is for them to learn all of this in English. He decided to translate for us to change that.

Silvia started volunteering for us when she was studying for a degree in translation. She joined us to gain some real-life experience in translation and localisation, but quickly found herself immersed in our amazing community and became passionate about Raspberry Pi’s mission. She is still supporting us now, even though she has finished her degree and is working full-time.

Sanneke is a digital literacy consultant and librarian at Bibliotheek Kennemerwaard in the Netherlands. She runs five Dojos in the area where her library is based. Sanneke translates because it helps children who want to learn to code. English is taught from quite an early age at primary schools in the Netherlands, but having learning resources in Dutch is particularly helpful for young children.

All of these volunteers bring with them a unique set of skills and experiences. They make the #RPiTranslate community an amazing, diverse, successful team.

Raspberry Pi translators: we salute every single one of you. We couldn’t do what we do without you!

A GIF showing lots of Raspberry Pi colleagues smiling, saluting and clapping enthusiastically

Join us

Anyone can join this amazing group of people in their translation efforts. It’s really easy to get involved: you don’t need any experience of translation or coding, and you can choose how much time you want to commit.

Visit our translation page to find out more, or join one of our live Q&A sessions this week to ask our translation manager and language coordinators anything you’d like:

  • Wednesday 26 September at 18:00 BST – join here
  • Friday 28 September at 13:00 BST – join here

Happy translation week!

Special thanks to the Atlassian Foundation and MIT Solve for their continued support in developing our translation community.

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Developer Q&A: brand-new online training courses

There is always a flurry of activity at the start of the new academic year, and we are getting in on the action: this autumn and winter, we’ll be launching four new, free, online courses!

I caught up with course developers Marc, Caitlyn, James, and Martin to find out what they have in store for you.

Dan Fisher: Hi everyone! First off, can you give me a rundown of what your courses are called and what your motivation was for creating them?

Martin O’Hanlon: Sure! So my course is called Programming 101: An Introduction to Python for Educators. We wanted to create an ‘introduction to programming’ course that anyone could follow, ensuring that learners get to understand concepts as well as practice coding. They will leave with a really good understanding of why programming is so useful, and of how it works.

James Robinson: Then, as a follow-up to this and many other beginner online programming courses, we will be releasing Programming 102: Think Like A Computer Scientist. A lot of courses spend time on the syntax and core elements of a language, without much focus on how to plan and construct a program. We feel the skills involved in understanding and breaking down a problem, before representing it in code, are fundamental to computer science. My course is therefore designed to give you the opportunity to explore these problem-solving skills while extending your knowledge of programming.

Marc Scott: My How Computers Work: Demystifying Computation course fills in the gaps in people’s knowledge about these amazing lumps of silicon and plastic. Computers are very abstract machines. Most people understand that computers can run large, complicated programs, but few people understand how computers are able to perform even the simplest of operations like counting or adding two numbers together. How Computers Work shows people how computers use simple components such as transistors to do incredible things.

Caitlyn Merry: My course is called Bringing Data to Life: Data Representation with Digital Media. Data representation is a huge part of the GCSE Computer Science curriculum, and we wanted to present some of the more theoretical parts of the subject in a fun, practical, and engaging way. And data is everywhere — it is such an important topic nowadays, with real-world impact, so we’re making sure the course is also useful for anyone else who wants to learn about data through the lens of creative media.

an animation of a dancing computer screen displaying the words 'hello world'

DF: Awesome! So who are the courses for?

MOH: Programming 101 is for anyone who wants to learn how to program in Python and gain an understanding for the concepts of computer programming.

JR: Programming 102 is for beginners who have already tackled some programming basics and have some experience in writing text-based programs.

CM: Bringing Data to Life is great if you want to understand how computers turn data into digital media: text, sound, video, and images — for example, photos on your smartphone.

MS: And How Computers Work is for anyone who is interested in learning how computers work. [laughter from the group]

DF: Short and to the point as ever, Marc.

MS: Okay, if you want a sensible answer, it would most help Computer Science teachers at secondary or high school level get to grips with the fundamentals and architecture.

DF: And what will they be doing in your courses, in practical terms?

MOH: Programming 101 will show you how to set up your computer for Python programming and then how to create Python programs! You’ll learn about the basic programming concepts of sequencing, selection, and repetition, and about how to use variables, input, output, ifs, lists, loops, functions, and more.

an animation showing how programming variables works

JR: Programming 102 discusses the importance of algorithms and their applications, and shows you how to plan and implement your own algorithms and reflect on their efficiency. Throughout the course, you’ll be using functions to structure your code and make your algorithms more versatile.

MS: In How Computers Work, learners will find out some of the historical origins of computers and programming, how computers work with ones and zeros, how logic gates can be used to perform calculations, and about the basic internals of the CPU, the central processing unit.

CM: In my Bringing Data to Life course, you’ll learn how text, images, and sound data is represented and stored by computers, but you’ll also be doing your own media computation: creating your own code and programs to manipulate existing text, images, and data!

DF: Cool! So what will learners end up taking away from your courses?

MOH: When you have completed the Programming 101 course, you’ll be able to create your own computer programs using Python, educate others in the fundamental concepts of computer programming, and take your learning further to understand more advanced concepts.

JR: After Programming 102, you’ll be able to plan and create structured and versatile programs and make use of more programming concepts including functions and dictionaries.

MS: From my course, you’ll get a solid grounding in how computers actually function, and an appreciation for the underlying simplicity behind complex computing architectures and programs.

an animation of how a relay works

At their core, computers works with simple components, e.g. relays like this.

CM: The take-away from mine will be an understanding of how computers present to you all the media you view on your phone, screens, etc., and you’ll gain some new skills to manipulate and change what you see and hear through computers.

DF: And how much would learners need to know before they start?

MOH: Programming 101 is suitable for complete beginners with no prior knowledge.

MS: The same goes for How Computers Work.

JR: For Programming 102, you’ll need to have already tackled some programming basics and have a little experience of writing text-based programs, but generally speaking, the courses are for beginner-level learners who are looking for a place to start.

CM: You’d just need a basic understanding of Python for Bringing Data to Life. Taking Programming 101 would be enough!

DF: That’s great, folks! Thanks for talking to me.


An animation of a castaway learning to code

These courses are supported by our friends at Google as part of their continued investment in training for secondary Computer Science teachers in the UK. The courses are designed to give practising educators a solid grounding in the concepts and practical applications of computing. Best of all, they are free, for everyone.

Programming 101 and How Computers Work will both begin running in October. Sign up for them today by visiting the Raspberry Pi Foundation page on FutureLearn.

Programming 102 and Bringing Data to Life will launch this winter. Sign up for our education newsletter Raspberry Pi LEARN to hear from us when they’re out.

Got a question you’d like to ask our online course developers? Post your comment below!

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