Picademy Manchester – day one

You might remember there was a brief moment of hysteria when the official Raspberry Pi magazine had a free Pi Zero on the cover of one of their issues a few weeks ago. Websites were dedicated to finding shops with copies still in stock, and subscriptions rocketed, all for something which you can now pick up for about £4. Bargain, yes. Great marketing, absolutely. Whilst the magazine deal may not have been as amazing as it first seemed, what struck me was a tweet which pointed out that the original 1981 BBC micro, arguably a machine created with a similar ethos to the Raspberry Pi, cost at today’s prices about £700. So in 25 years the cost of entry into computing has fallen from £700 to, well, nothing. Let’s hope that continues for the next 25 years. At that rate I’ll be able to pick up a new computer and retire on the windfall that comes with it…

Raspberry Pi is something I’ve been looking to deploy in school for a while now, but not yet really got around to it. I’ve been looking for some quality CPD to help me along the way, and was alerted to Picademy by Kate Russell’s keynote at the RM seminar in Manchester last November. Therefore I was delighted to be accepted on the Manchester course this half term. The only brief was to arrive with an open mind, which was lucky for me, as I had that but sadly not a functioning voice.

The first day has proved to be a real eye opener. I thought I had a good idea of the capabilities of a Raspberry Pi, but needed help unlocking it. I was right on the latter point, but I’ve been amazed by the breadth of functionality you can get from it – to state the obvious, it’s a proper little computer.

The day’s activities ranged from creating a blinking LED light using Scratch, to making a working model of the phases of the moon (see video below). In between we were introduced to Python, a brilliant introduction to coding for upper KS2/KS3 children and Minecraft on the Pi, which I can just see children taking further than I can ever imagine. There was also an opportunity to play with some of the many peripherals that you can hook up to the Raspberry Pi, offering a fantastic introduction to the world of physical computing and robotics.

All in all, a brilliant first day. Tomorrow is all about creating our own ideas for lessons and activities based on what we’ve looked at today. Watch this space…

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Picademy Manchester – day one

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