birv2
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Sun Jun 19, 2016 3:54 pm

Major Tom, thanks so much for posting your first forays into teaching with the Raspberry Pi. I'm planning to do that in the fall, and I found your posts instructive and entertaining! I also teach middle schoolers, so I recognize the pitfalls and triumphs! I also applaud your willingness to forge ahead and do the best you can with what you have. Bravo!

I'm going to start a thread here as I start thinking about what to do for next year, and I'd love for you to chime in, now that you have all that experience!

Bob Irving
Porter-Gaud School
Charleston, SC
US

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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Wed Jun 22, 2016 7:37 am

timrowledge wrote:I've worked out what you did wrong here; you loaded the 'scratch' package, which is the *old* stuff, rather than 'nuscratch'.
Mystery solved! Thanks for looking into it. Hopefully the next guy who tries it will be smarter than me. :)
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Wed Jun 22, 2016 7:59 am

birv2 wrote:Major Tom, thanks so much for posting your first forays into teaching with the Raspberry Pi. I'm planning to do that in the fall, and I found your posts instructive and entertaining! I also teach middle schoolers, so I recognize the pitfalls and triumphs! I also applaud your willingness to forge ahead and do the best you can with what you have. Bravo!

I'm going to start a thread here as I start thinking about what to do for next year, and I'd love for you to chime in, now that you have all that experience!

Bob Irving
Porter-Gaud School
Charleston, SC
US
You're welcome. Thank you for your comment. Part of the reason for writing this is that I want to look back and see what fun we all had. The other is to serve as a stark warning to anyone who wants to try it.

j/k :)

I don't know if I'd be able to offer much advice. I generally know what I am doing, but events often conspire against me. My best advice would be "have a plan". Even if it's the worst plan and the students end up hating whatever activity it is you have to have one. If you have nothing you generally can not wing it.

The last couple of lessons have been using Minecraft Pi and Python, using this lesson plan:
https://www.raspberrypi.org/learning/ge ... worksheet/

I presented it as "Copy this and then let's talk about the interesting bits", which basically meant I could ignore creating of objects and focus on simple variables, loops, and simple if statements. To me, loops and branches are the key, and now we have seen them in several languages.

One student built a spiral staircase by making a loop which moved the player one space up and forward, and up and left, and putting a stone block underneath at every point. In general, a lot of students will play around with stuff and make something interesting. Some will just copy the examples and see what happens (usually with a big smile if it works). Others will just play Minecraft, which I try to stop but it's hard to keep track of.

I have to say, one of my students dropped out, but he passed on his Pi and equipment to another student who then joined the class. I was impressed that he was interested enough to try, and willing to let someone else try once he realised it was not for him.

The last class used forecastio. I used the demo program on their website to get a forecast. The program is set up with co-ordinates for Perth, Australia. So, I was able to ask the students what are these numbers? (they are lat/lon) What do they mean? (they are a position on the earth for a forecast) Where are they pointing to? (Perth, Australia) What do we need for here? (Umm....) (They got it eventually, but having them work it out is better than telling them).

When we set up the program we got "Drizzle" as the forecast, but out of the window it was just cloudy. All the students spent time getting their code to work, and got the same answer. After about 10 minutes a student looked out of the window and saw light rain. At that point I think they were genuinely astounded.

We have to stop now because the summer break is coming up, and the students have some tests. After the break we'll look at blinkenlights and so on. During the break we might have a special 'summer programming class' for a week. I am thinking of going through "Dive into Python" with them, so they can get an idea of what can be done, and how it can be done. They are not programmers (yet) but if they see enough bits of code that do interesting things they'll start coming up with ways to implement their own ideas. I hope.

Oh, and top tip from the professionals- for Python 3 packages you need sudo pip3 install ... otherwise your Python 3 environment can't use the module you planned to use and thought you had just successfully installed.
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:03 am

Hello again,

So, we're starting up again after the summer vacation, and this time I want to do hardware. I'm not sure how much the students are getting out of all of this. I know one student is way ahead of the others, but this class really is about having fun and de-mystifying what computers are and how they do what they do. My hope is that the students become interested enough to be self-motivated and start devouring O'Reilly books and Make magazine.

I managed to order a bulk pack of breadboards, T-cobblers (fake, of course), ribbon cables, resistors, LEDs, switches and jumper wires. This is enough to introduce blinkenlights and gefingerpoken. It'll take a couple of weeks to get the basics, but after we have covered basic I/O the rest is just building on top of that. Again, the point is to show that they are controlling the computer and making it do what they tell it to.

Later I have plans to cover humidity and temperature sensors, servos, GPS, the Pi camera, PIR sensors and a couple of other cool bits of hardware I momentarily forgot about. I will only be able to briefly touch on this stuff, but the students can see it, see how it works, and have a go at doing something with it. I haven't bought all the stuff yet. If there is not time for everything then I won't waste money on getting stuff we can't use. I do have a budget, but I think it's quite sufficient.

I will be using Python again, because I like it. Once the students have confidence to plug electrical things together then I hope they will find some ideas on the web and try them out. Things like that can be quite intimidating at first, but if I build their confidence in class then they can start doing stuff by themselves.

Well, that's the plan. We'll see shortly how it copes with reality.
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birv2
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:26 pm

Major Tom, thanks for posting your ongoing journey. As I'm a teacher on a similar journey, I love what you're doing! I will do the same in the next little while.

What age are your students? Is the class required or elective?

Bob Irving
Porter-Gaud School
Charleston, SC

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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Mon Aug 22, 2016 1:03 pm

Hello again,

These are middle school students, so about age 12 to 15. The class is entirely voluntary, but I limited the numbers to 18 just so that I could keep a handle on things.
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Sat Sep 03, 2016 6:17 pm

Major Tom, thanks for all your words. Your posts about successes and failures are inspiring. I'm trying to put together the numbers for a Raspberry Pi space for next year.

Please keep your experiences coming they're quite helpful.

Scott Bridges
Sonlight Academy
Port-de-Paix, Haiti

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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:02 pm

Just a quick update. I bought a bunch of breadboard kits for the students, containing a small breadboard, a T-cobbler knock-off, some wires, resistors, LEDs and switches. I was actually going to buy the parts individually, but the kits made more sense.

I hacked together a quick PPT about electrical theory, glossing over just about everything and telling the students they'll learn more in science class. The two points I wanted to make were that Raspberry Pi voltage and current is safe, but mains electricity is not, and don't connect anything the the 5V pin.

I was worried that the students would get bored if I gave them a lecture on electronics, and I wanted them to light an LED as soon as possible. I decided that it was worth spending time on what the components were, and their schematic symbols, but the first hardware project was "turn an LED on and off". I expect this is the first project for many people who are doing anything with Pis or Arduinos or whatever is popular right now. As you know, it's easy to wire up, but I showed a photo of each step on the projector. Some students couldn't figure out pin 1 on the ribbon cable, despite telling me they could all see the tiny arrow on the connector, and the square solder pad on the Pi PCB. Luckily the chosen IO pins do not cause problems if the ribbon cable is plugged in upside down *in this case*. Other students had been playing with their cables already and managed to bend some pins on the Pi. A thin pair of pliers fixed those.

Then a simple Python program- set up RPi.GPIO, turn on GPIO, wait one second, turn off GPIO.

I did get a couple of gasps of amazement, so it went well.

I added a loop, so the LED would turn on and off forever, and left them to it.

That took two one-hour sessions. Anyone who is following this story should be aware that these are kids, they are clumsy, they don't pay attention, and they can't focus. So, plan well-defined tasks, with simple goals, and allow a lot of time to get it done. It would be tempting to do this in one lesson, but you'd end up spending the same amount of time helping the students who missed the action first time around anyway.

Next, the mighty pushbutton switch (you can imagine how that went).
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Wed Sep 07, 2016 5:51 pm

Nice update, MT.

Looks like you're getting stuck into it now. I'm sure you're finding plenty of things you'd do differently next time around :)

You say you are using RPi.GPIO. This is fine, but for the level that your group seem to be at, you might want to look at GpioZero instead. It does everything that you'll need, but it simplifies stuff quite a bit.

Looking forward to hear about the buttons !

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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Thu Sep 08, 2016 10:05 am

Hello again,

The mighty pushbutton lesson went quite well actually. The students seem to want to dismantle everything between classes (which led to more bent pins) and still don't have a notebook to make notes in (despite my pleadings every time). So, we started from a blank slate. We learned about the schematic symbol for a switch, and what a switch looks like and how it works. We looked at a schematic with a pull-up resistor, and I made some photos for my PPT showing how to hook up a simple pushbutton with a pull-up on the breadboard.

I was quite impressed. One the one hand, my students are not very dexterous, and this is only their second time plugging in tiny wires. On the other, it's a huge conceptual leap between a picture of a switch and a description of how it works, and actually seeing one and being expected to believe it works as described. They still have no idea what they are doing, but repetition should lead to confidence, which should lead to experimentation (and then to the release of magic smoke, but even that is a part of the learning experience).

After checking everything we typed in a Python program that runs in a loop and prints "Button pressed" or "Button not pressed" continuously on the screen. Even that got a gasp of excitement.

Some students had trouble, mostly due to being off-by-one-hole on the breadboard. Usually it is not necessary for me to fix it, just to tell them where to look, then they figure it out and fix it.

The next (obvious) step is to link the switch function with the LED. Unfortunately, because they dismantled the LED from the previous time we had to go through the photos and assemble that again. Never mind. Soon we had the LED mimicking the switch state, or the inverse of the switch state.

These programs are all very short, so I am having the students type them in from the projector screen. They get a lot of errors from typos, but on a 10-line program it's easy to fix, and gets them used to the idea of debugging. I could put the programs on a webserver, even the short ones, but then they would miss this vital learning experience.

Finally we made a game. Kids love games, but there's not much you can do with one switch and one LED. Still, I decided to make a reaction timer game. When you run the program it waits for a random time, then lights the LED. At that point the player has to press the switch as quickly as possible. The Python code measures the time until the button is pressed and then prints it on the screen. Kids, being naturally competitive, then have something to do for the rest of the afternoon.

That's the basics covered. If you learn that you can programmatically turn an output on and off, and you can programmatically do different things based on the state of an input then everything stems from that point.

Next we are going to do servos and relays, because the students* have to make a Project.

* Somehow I think I am going to be doing a lot of project-related work.
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Wed Sep 14, 2016 2:06 pm

Interesting reading Tom, please keep letting us know how you get on.
Doug.
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birv2
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:20 pm

Updates from Charleston, SC....

I have a set of 20 Pi's and my lab has 20 iMacs. I will have 5 sections per day using the Pi's. My first idea was to use RealVNC, so I wouldn't need extra monitors, keyboards, and mice. Got it working, got static IP's for the Pi's, and then found that a) Minecraft was not really ready for prime time using RealVNC, and b) educational use was going to cost actual money. Both were deal breakers.

So I started seriously investigating PiNet, even though my lab is completely wireless and PiNet doesn't work with wireless. This will require some serious rebooting of the lab, furniture arrangement, cable placement, etc. But the "win" of getting authentication, file storage, easier updates, and teacher administration outweighed the challenges.

So I've been working on getting PiNet up and running with a small 10/100 switch. Finally got the server (an old Dell box) updated with Ubuntu and PiNet, ran some ethernet cables to a couple of Pi's and it is now working on a small scale. Thanks to Andew Mulholland for all his help!

Next I start experimenting with table arrangement, "cable runnage"... we ordered a 24 port 10/100/1000 switch which will be here next week. So much to do, but the end result will be fun and amazing!

So this is the physical part of the setup. Next time I'll post about the curricular setup, what I'm going to do and how.....

Bob Irving
Porter-Gaud School
Charleston, SC

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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Wed Sep 28, 2016 9:08 am

Glad to hear you are setting up your class. I hope the students have fun. I have found that I had to be quite creative to get things working, but I did manage to convince the school to re-use some equipment instead of buying new things, which saved some cost. In fact, it depresses me to see some of the things that are lying around unused because either they are too complicated, or because they were for some learning fad that never really took off. We have a stack of 10" tablets that are totally underutilised because the "Smart School" is a lie.

Anyway, not much to update. The students have a test this week, but recently they came up with some cool ideas and I ordered some parts to make them work. They are in groups of three, and had to come up with an IoT project to make. I was quite lenient in what I accepted as an "IoT" project, since nobody is really sure what it means.

So, I have a couple of students controlling things with relays. Some are using servos to move things. I have one group with a DHT11 humidity sensor. One with a tiny PIR sensor (which we'll upgrade to a Pi camera with OpenCV later). A cheap RC car with a Pi controlling it. And an Internet Weather Station. I am happy that the students chose different projects, and that they are all do-able (I will copy a lot of stuff from Instructables and this forum, of course).

Most of the projects will use WebIOPi, which doesn't work on the Pi 3 without a patch, but it is documented on this forum. They'll also have to build some things with cardboard, tape, lolly sticks and other detritus. We will have a presentation at the end of October (to the group who gave the grant money for the hardware) so everything has to look cool by then. I anticipate being rather busy with my l33t h4Xor Sk1LLz fixing stuff for them before then.

After that we're going to build a cardboard CNC machine based on homofacien's design.
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:18 pm

Well, I survived so far. I finished six IoT projects, then we had exams. Now I am preparing to make cardboard CNC machines.

The six projects were:
1) Internet weather station
Uses forecast.io to get the local weather, then displays it on LEDs on the side of the box.
2) Automatic diary display
Uses a PIR sensor to turn a monitor on and off to show the owner's Google Calendar. We were hoping to use OpenCV and a Pi camera to do face recognition and open different Google calendars, but there wasn't enough time.
3) Pi controlled RC car
Take a cheap RC car, remove its guts and replace it with a Pi and an H-bridge. Control it from a smartphone using WebIOPi.
4) IoT outdoor lighting
Use WebIOPi to control a relay for outdoor lighting.
5) Automatic humidity control
Use a DHT11 humidity sensor and a cheap humidifier to keep humidity constant.
6) IoT cooling fan
Control a cooling fan's operation and direction using two servos and WebIOPi.

I was very pleased with the students' choices, in that they all chose different things. Of course that meant that I had to fix six different projects, and not six slight variations of one project. Never mind, there is a ton of info to be mined on the internet, either in this forum, or Instructables, or various blog posts. My plan was to point students in the generally right direction for a bit, then give them a specific tutorial to follow if they got stuck, then either suggest what they should do, or, in extreme cases, do it for them. My goal was to let the students see that if they can think of an idea they can figure out how to make it work- and then make it work. I wanted them to see that there is no secret, and no mystery. Just code and many, many, small steps.

Lessons learned:
Make sure you know how you could make each student's project. I was confident I could build all of these projects myself if necessary. I was also confident I could find enough helpful information for the students to get the components and software working.
Try to limit the scope of the projects. One team's original design was a fully automatic IoT breakfast maker that would fry things on top and make coffee inside. That would be totally awesome, but not really possible in the short time we had, or budget.
Having said that, the Google Calendar team were happy that they could still make something that worked even though I scaled back its functionality significantly.
Having said that the RC car team were quite certain they had bitten off more than they could chew, despite my assurances it could all be made to work.
Obviously I cheated because I was in control of purchasing the hardware, so I could buy parts that I knew would work and were already well-supported on the Pi.
Try to emphasise that we can't go from idea to working model in one step. The students were impatient to get their project finished, but didn't understand the need to get small pieces working first then put them all together.
Get the students to have a notebook! I have been drilling this into them since the beginning, but it's only starting to sink in. Next, get them to take notes. Finally, get them to read their notes. I had one team using servos. We Googled the wire colours for the servo connector and wrote them down. Later, the team yelled "Over here! Smoke!", because they had wired the servo backwards. They insisted the colours were right, so I asked them to check their notes... You'll be happy to know that the Pi survived.
Oh, and watch out for the super-keen, knowledgeable student who figures out how to cut open a mains power cord and wire it into his relay. Originally I had him using an LED to simulate the electric light he was talking about, but then he "tried this at home and it worked" so I quickly had to fabricate a box to make it safe in the classroom.

Next we are going to make a cardboard model of a CNC, based on Homofaciens design here:
http://homofaciens.de/technics-machines-cnc-v3-0_en.htm

I hope the students enjoy it. I know I will.
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birv2
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:24 pm

Thanks again for sharing, Major Tom. Some seriously cool stuff there!

I particularly like your first rule -- make sure you can build it. I come from the coding side, so engineering and electronics are not my strong suits. That limits me (and the students) at first to doing some pretty simple stuff, like blinking lights, buzzers, buttons, etc. I am getting better as I go along but wish I could be faster!

I'm planning an IoT unit for next quarter and would love to hear any suggestions you may have for beginner simple stuff. I know for a fact that I could not gut an RC car, stick a Pi in it, and have it work! Not this week anyway.

I've done Sense Hat stuff, LEDS, buzzers and buttons, most using the gpiozero library, which I love. Always more to learn!

Bob

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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:07 am

birv2 wrote:I know for a fact that I could not gut an RC car, stick a Pi in it, and have it work!
A Pi car made out of an RC toy is easier than you think. In my case I didn't need to take out any of the existing electronics. The logic levels used by the RC chip were exactly the same as the GPIO, so all that was needed were 4 resistors and 4 wires for forward, backward, left and right.

Interestingly, such a simple design allows the Pi to control the car when the GPIO is in output mode and for the Pi to record the signals controlling the car sent by the original remote when the GPIO is in input mode.

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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Sun Nov 06, 2016 1:42 am

birv2 wrote:Thanks again for sharing, Major Tom. Some seriously cool stuff there!

I particularly like your first rule -- make sure you can build it. I come from the coding side, so engineering and electronics are not my strong suits. That limits me (and the students) at first to doing some pretty simple stuff, like blinking lights, buzzers, buttons, etc. I am getting better as I go along but wish I could be faster!

I'm planning an IoT unit for next quarter and would love to hear any suggestions you may have for beginner simple stuff. I know for a fact that I could not gut an RC car, stick a Pi in it, and have it work! Not this week anyway.

I've done Sense Hat stuff, LEDS, buzzers and buttons, most using the gpiozero library, which I love. Always more to learn!

Bob
Ah, don't get too hung up on being able to do everything in advance, just be confident that you can figure it out. For example, the RC car seems a little complicated, but there are 3 or 4 instructables about doing it. The RC cars vary slightly in design, but the super-cheap ones are super-simple (because they're cheap). In my case I had to add an H-bridge to control the rear motor and I removed the steering motor and installed a micro-servo. The students got the servo working with pigpio and figured out the control signals for the H-bridge, but got stuck putting them together. I used some code from one instructable that was set up with WebIOPi to drive two H-bridges for running and steering and hacked out the steering code and replaced it with servo code.

I also built a few parts to help the students, and I read a lot of instructables and WebIOPi examples to get me up to speed. Most of the time you only have to be one page ahead of the students.

Regarding IoT, in my opinion it's an over-hyped, vacuous buzzword. It means nothing, and yet it is promoted to mean so many things. Currently, commercial IoT devices are poorly designed and horribly insecure. They're also not particularly Open, being generally intended to establish a new revenue stream by implementing a 'family' of products that work together, but not with anything else. Which is not what the internet is about.

Much like 'using a computer' became an excuse for innovation where an existing product or service could be revamped by "using a computer". Using IoT becomes an excuse to do this with even the most trivial device (IoT light switch, IoT toaster, IoT music player) without innovation or creation, and adding poor interoperability and poor security.

But, if you tack "IoT" onto your project name then everyone will adore it. So, since nobody knows what "IoT" really is you could do almost anything in your class and say "Yup, it's IoT" and people around you will nod sagely in agreement.

Probably the best starting point for a simple project would be to follow the WebIOPi tutorial and turn on an LED connected to the Pi GPIO with a button on a webpage on your smartphone. People will swoon.

To get WebIOPi working on the Pi 3 follow the instructions from danjperron near the bottom of this page:
viewtopic.php?f=63&t=98981

Finally, if you are the "go-to" guy for Raspberry Pi then just keep reading this forum and trying stuff out. Suddenly you will be able to fix a bunch of problems because you just happened to read about them (and the solution) here.
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birv2
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Sun Nov 06, 2016 5:20 pm

Thanks for the reply and the vote of confidence. If I confess that I don't know what an H-bridge is, however, that might change your confidence in my knowledge!

I do believe in constantly learning and staying one step ahead, and do that all the time. And I'm sure that more exposure to this side of the Pi will give me the confidence to forge forward, though ninja status might be a ways off...

Thanks again! I appreciate your willingness to share your journey and wisdom.

Bob

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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:58 am

Well, we're about done now. Winding down for exams and Christmas. I don't know if I'll do the class next year or not. We've certainly had a lot of fun, and I have identified three students who will grow up to be hardcore geeks.

My notoriety has spread far and wide and for the final six-class session a new student arrived from an elementary school in the next town just for my class. He freaked me out by chatting about his love for C, Python and Java, and comparing the relative merits of each. He must be only 12 or something. Anyway, it didn't matter that he was thrown in at the deep end making a cardboard CNC machine and driving it with Python. In fact, he was the first to finish.

It also turns out there was a national science contest being held in a nearby city, and three of our students went there with the six IoT projects we made and got fourth place! This really surprised me as I had no idea we were going to enter the contest, and no idea of the criteria used. Apparently we lost some points because some of our projects were similar to the projects from other groups there. I found that a little annoying because of course the same popular ideas are going to pop up in a bunch of different places. Anyway, getting a prize without really aiming for it was a good thing for the students.

I am also delivering the same class that I did in the first part year at another local school, but this time compressed into 4 weekly sessions of 3 hours each. I have had to drop some material, but the idea is to give the students a taste of what can be done on a Pi, and that a Pi is cheap enough that they can conceivably own one. At least one of them already wanted to be a game programmer, so we'll see if using Scratch or pyGame piques his interest.

So, I personally am responsible for the purchase of almost 40 Pi 3 boards and accessories. Yay me!
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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Mon Nov 28, 2016 9:52 pm

Major Tom wrote:I am also delivering the same class that I did in the first part year at another local school, but this time compressed into 4 weekly sessions of 3 hours each.
It is interesting that the class length is 3 hours. This goes against the popular idea that an hour class is already too long. However, it is consistent with my observations that one-hour in the computing lab is more of a magic show than an opportunity to experiment and learn. Do you have any recommendations on the minimum class length for an effective hands-on computing class?

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Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:11 am

ejolson wrote:
Major Tom wrote:I am also delivering the same class that I did in the first part year at another local school, but this time compressed into 4 weekly sessions of 3 hours each.
It is interesting that the class length is 3 hours. This goes against the popular idea that an hour class is already too long. However, it is consistent with my observations that one-hour in the computing lab is more of a magic show than an opportunity to experiment and learn. Do you have any recommendations on the minimum class length for an effective hands-on computing class?
Hi there,

Thanks for your comment.

By one 'hour' I mean one timetable period, which is 45 minutes at that school. So I am really talking about three 45 minute sessions with 10 minute breaks between.

I would prefer to spread the classes out on different days, but it's the only time available.

I find 45 minutes to be about right for a class, as long as the topic is well-defined. I did a set of classes that were one hour each for a while, but that was really a struggle to fill. Too much time for a single topic, not really enough for two. It really depends on the material and the students, which you only find out after you try a few things.

This week I will be playing with Sonic Pi. I just read elsewhere in the forum that it might not work with the latest Pixel OS image on Pi 3, so I probably should check on that.
My circuit's dead, there's something wrong.

madtom1999
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:37 pm

Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:14 pm

Thanks Major Tom.
One thing you may find useful is Zim desktop wiki - its quite useful for putting together ideas and lessons and, if you can connect all your pi's together with some form of networking then you can set it up as a little internet server which is handy for some kids who can work at different speeds, or just for the teacher to refer back to the lesson from the students pi.

starapple
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:38 am
Location: Southern Leyte, The Philippines
Contact: Website

Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:57 am

Thank you for your wonderful thread here.
I am planning a code school/classes later this year, for children.
Your methods of making it fun for the students is very important.
I am also planning on using Pi3's because of the added addition of wi-fi and bluetooth. I have one running Kodi, and it is reliable and fast. Although I like the idea that your students bought their own Pi3, but that is not an option here, as it would eat up 2 or 3 weeks from the whole family's budget here.
I will now do some 'homework' on sonicPi and scratch (or nuscratch?), before delving into Python and the GPIO. I will also check out Pinet.org.uk
You state that you are worried about them bending the pins. Could I suggest GPIO Connector Header Extenders at about a dollar or 2 each.

Once again, thank you. Your posts gives us an insight into what it is really like taking on this program.
We hope to hear from you again real soon.

Major Tom
Posts: 65
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:13 am
Location: Strung up in heavens high.

Re: My Raspberry Pi class

Mon Feb 20, 2017 11:34 am

Well everything got finished up and put away and I don't know what will happen next year. I guess I can write a short summary to close this thread.

The biggest problem I had was not having a clear goal. I was told to do something with Raspberry Pi for the students. So, I made up a course starting with the basics and moving on to interesting things like making sounds, using Scratch, and hooking up buttons and LEDs. It was both a blessing and a curse. With a clear goal you can see if you achieved it. With "do something interesting" there is no doubt I achieved it, but the definition is subjective. With the younger kids (this school is about age 12 to 15) they are a bit flighty and don't have a long attention span. I would have liked to focus on a long-term project, and learn something in small parts and apply it in small parts, building up step by step, but that would not suit all the students. I had to show them things to keep their interest and hope that if they spotted something that really interested them that they would follow that up in their free time.

But, it was a success. The students got to learn that computers are cool and you can make them do what you want, instead of running programs that do only what somebody else wanted.

I am moving on next year. I don't know if the program will run again. The other teachers who worked with me might present something similar, but it was all new to them too, so I don't know if they'll have the confidence.

Thanks for everyone's comments here, and thanks for reading. I'll probably post elsewhere in the forum with whatever I am up to next.
My circuit's dead, there's something wrong.

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