Raspberry Pi at Bett 2013

Last week, Raspberry Pi received an amazing response at Bett http://www.bettshow.com, a huge show about educational technology at ExCeL centre, London. For some teachers, it was the first time they’d seen a Raspberry Pi.

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On Thursday, Robert Mullins, co-founder of Raspberry Pi gave a talk to the vast Bett Arena. Mark Dorling from CAS, and Christine Swan also shared their experiences of teaching in schools. This showed that teaching with Raspberry Pi was achievable, and it can be used in the classroom. On a personal note I was pleasantly surprised to see Christine showing her use of PiFace with her students to build Raspberry Pi controlled Lego buggies. Mark Dorling described his experience of teaching computing at primary level, including getting computational concepts across through dance activities with Scratch.

OCR, a UK exam board, were there showing their support for the Raspberry Pi, and how it was livening up lessons in ICT and computing. As the photo shows, their presentation was rammed with standing room only.

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I was amazed by Rob Bishop’s energy as he did demo after demo on the overflowing OCR stand. OCR have produced some lesson resources, with more being added soon. http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/by-subject/ict/raspberry-pi/ It was personally a great honour to bump into Raspberry Pi founder Jack Lang on the stand. As Liz describes him at http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/2926, he truly is a brilliant man. I do hope that Raspberry Pi inspires youngsters to go off and reach equivalent achievements.

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I’ve always felt that activities should fundamentally excite young people, so they want to learn about computing – it’s the same motivation for the twittering chicken http://www.itv.com/news/granada/update/2013-01-08/computer-tells-world-when-you-raid-the-cupboards/. The screaming singing jelly baby is a fab, really simple but imaginative example of interfacing with the Raspberry Pi. A couple of paper clips are inserted into a jelly baby which when squeezed complete the circuit, triggering the playback of a scream song. Clive Beale, the new Director of education for the Pi Foundation was also on hand and discussing plans to get the Pi in the hands of more children.

At the Computing At School http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/ discussion, Raspberry Pi was high on the agenda – the main theme being the importance of giving teachers an idea of what can be achieved with embedded computing. To that end, carried along by the enthusiasm in the room, in less than 30 seconds Rob Bishop had proposed an event, OCR had generously offered to support it, and I’d offered to host it! The event will likely be in the next couple of months, to help teachers realise the potential for Raspberry Pi as an embedded platform, and how this can help them teach computing/ICT. More details will be published when finalised.

Despite an exhausting few days, one of the big pluses about these events is the energy that comes from meeting other like-minded and passionate people and seeing how they are improving education. Miss Philbin aka http://www.ictwithmissp.co.uk/ and the founder of http://www.geekgurldiaries.co.uk gave a number of talks, including her development and use of e-portfolios with Google Apps.

I truly am amazed by the energy and dedication some people (especially teachers) have and hope their efforts encourage other teachers to excite youngsters about computing and ICT, and undoubtedly this is helped along by the Raspberry Pi.