Scratch 2.0 on the Raspberry Pi

Exciting news! On Friday, Raspberry Pi announced the release of an update to the Raspberry Pi operating system, Raspbian, which includes an offline version of Scratch 2.0.

We often get questions from Code Club leaders looking to use this latest version of Scratch offline on the Raspberry Pi, so this update will be welcome to many!

Work on implementing Scratch 2.0 has been in progress for a while, as Simon Long details on the Raspberry Pi blog, and now the team has succeeded: a Scratch 2.0 application is available for the Pi 2 and Pi 3 – you can find it in the Programming section of the updated Raspbian main menu.

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However, the team didn’t stop at providing an offline version of Scratch 2.0 – they have also improved the experience of physical computing on the Pi using Scratch. There is now a custom extension which allows the user to control the Pi’s GPIO pins without difficulty: simply click on “More Blocks”, choose “Add an Extension”, and select “Pi GPIO”. This loads two new blocks, one to read and one to write the state of a GPIO pin.

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The Scratch team at MIT kindly allowed Raspberry Pi to include all the sprites, backdrops, and sounds from the online version of Scratch 2.0, so the cat sprite and its meow noise that we all know and love are present and accounted for. And you can even use the Raspberry Pi Camera Module to create new sprites and backgrounds!

Got questions or want to learn more? Head over to the Raspberry Pi blog.

 

 

Getting to grips with digital making at Picademy

‘Picademy? What’s it all about?’ I hear you say. Liz, Code Club’s Regional Coordinator for the North West, tells us more…

When I began volunteering with Code Club I had no idea what a Raspberry Pi is, and by the time I started working at Code Club I wasn’t that much wiser. So when the Google Garage came to Manchester, and with it a chance to attend Picademy, the free 2-day CPD programme for UK educators delivered by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, I jumped at the chance to go.

There are so many ‘best things about Picademy’ that I’m not sure where to start. The swag was fantastic, the tutors were brilliant, and the workshops were varied and inspirational. On Day 1, we’d covered Scratch GPIO, Python, Sonic Pi, and Minecraft all before lunch, and afterwards expanded our digital skills repertoire in workshops about the Explorer Hat and the Pi Camera. By the end of the day, I’d made flashing things, spinning things, noisy things, and so much more!

If I thought Day 1 was good, then Day 2 was amazing! It was so amazing that I forgot to stop for lunch, and I’m not the kind of person who does that often! Day 2 of Picademy is a hack day where you use your new skills and your imagination to bring something to life. My project was a hat for people playing Minecraft which lights up in different colours depending on which surface Minecraft Steve is standing on – totally useless, completely impractical, and definitely not something that’s going to feature at New York Fashion Week, but so much fun to make! I combined my new knowledge of circuits with some Python code and Minecraft linking, then did a lot of debugging and tweaking until everything worked as intended, and I finished with around 2 minutes to spare!

Each Picademy ends with a big show-and-tell where everyone presents what they’ve made, and there is a lot of laughter, applause, and shared insights. You then you get a badge, a certificate, and are welcomed to the Raspberry Pi Certified Educator community – I think I smiled all the way home!

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I’ve been lucky enough to visit Picademy a few more times since then. First I gatecrashed the end of the Picademy at Madlab earlier this year, so I could loudly applaud the new batch of Certified Educators and see their creations firsthand. Then I attended a staff Picademy session at our Cambridge office where the team I worked with created a ‘mug shot’ device (a camera seated on a plastic mug!) that takes your photo, adds a cartoon, and tweets you the result.

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If you’re is thinking about attending a Picademy near you, I completely recommend it. And if you’re not able to go to a physical Picademy, have a go at one of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s FutureLearn courses and really immerse yourself in the online community of Raspberry Pi-trained educators – you’ll get loads out of it!

If you’ve already attended a Picademy, make sure you take part in the Raspberry Pi Certified Educators survey 2017

 

#VolunteersWeek – Inspiring stories from Hampshire Libraries’ Code Clubs

by Dan Powell, Code Club’s Regional Coordinator for the South East

About 18 months ago, Code Club started a project with Hampshire Library Service to start five Code Clubs in key libraries across the county. This was around the time the Society of Chief Librarians announced its Code Green initiative, which foregrounded digital engagement in libraries, and Jade Bower at Hampshire Libraries and I were excited about the opportunity to get young people coding in their libraries.

The first five clubs proved to be a success and so the project rolled out to a second group of libraries: there are now 17 active Library Code Clubs across Hampshire! There is also a great community of Code Club leaders and Librarians who share ideas about what works for them, and who actively support new clubs as they start up.

I spoke to a group of Code Club volunteers and librarians to see what they think of the project and what the benefits of running a club are.  

Radka Ford, who is Library Team Manager for Winchester Discovery Centre and Chandler’s Ford Library, started off by telling me a bit about her club: “We have been running a Code Club at Chandler’s Ford Library for about 18 months. We have two great volunteers who are supported by two library staff. Children code on laptops and work through ready-made projects available on the Code Club website, and some of them code on micro:bits and also in HTML. Kids really love coding, we seem to have a never-ending waiting list of children wanting to learn to code!” Radka also had this to say about the Code Club volunteers at the library: “We couldn’t do this without Code Club volunteers! One Code Club volunteer landed a paid job in programming rather than working for a supermarket. How inspiring!”

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One of the volunteers at Eastleigh Library, Andrew Daniels, got involved because he wants to pass on the skills and experience he’s developed during his career as a programmer. Andrew finds it rewarding working with the children who attend the club, and he says Code Club “brings a new change to my routine. I get to help shape lives. It’s amazing when parents of children tell me how important Code Club is to their lives.”

Librarian Lucy Geary, who is based at the Basingstoke Discovery Centre, talked about her experience of coding and Code Club. “As a member of library staff, I was pleased to get involved as I enjoyed the little bits of coding I did at University and this was an opportunity to get something mentally stimulating involved in my job at the library. I have very much enjoyed learning the different languages.” Lucy’s club is supported by volunteers from New Voice Media, a local company, and she describes the volunteers as “amazing – their staff are professional programmers and bring amazing knowledge and enthusiasm to the club”. But the best thing to her is seeing how the children who attend the club grow and learn: “It has been very satisfying and a pleasure to see the different groups of children grow in their ability and in their level of interest and commitment as the weeks progress. Sometimes the difference from week one to the end is unbelievable!”

David Hughes has been volunteering at the Farnham Library Code Club since the end of last year. Like many Code Club volunteers, he is not a coder by trade but is enthusiastic about digital making and a member of the Raspberry Pi Community. For him ,“it is important to give back in line with the values of the Raspberry Pi community. Code Club allows me to help the next generation of coders and budding techies.”

All in all, the Hampshire Library Service project has been a great success, and there are libraries starting Code Clubs in Hampshire almost every month now! A huge thank-you to all of the Code Club volunteers and Hampshire Libraries staff who have shared their skills and enthusiasm for coding with so many children across the county.

Interested to run a Code Club in your local library? Head over to our website to learn more and sign up! You can also watch our video below, featuring Tile Hill library in Coventry.