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

 

Free online training from Raspberry Pi!

The Raspberry Pi Foundation Education Team have been working on a new way for people to learn about digital making: two free online CPD training courses, available anywhere in the world. The courses will run alongside the current live educator training offerings (Picademy, Skycademy and Code Club Teacher Training) and are facilitated by FutureLearn, a leading platform for online educational training. Here’s the lowdown on what you can expect:

Course 1: Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python

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This 4 week course will introduce you to Physical Computing, showing you how easy it is to create a system that responds to and controls the physical world, using computer programs running on the Raspberry Pi. You’ll apply your newfound knowledge to a series of challenges, including controlling an LED with Python, using a button press to control a circuit, and making a button and LED game.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll also have the chance to develop ideas for using the Raspberry Pi and Python in your classroom, and to connect with a network of other educators.

SIGN UP FOR COURSE 1

Course 2: Teaching Programming in Primary Schools

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This 4 week course will provide a comprehensive introduction to programming, designed for non-subject-specialist primary or K-5 teachers. Over 4 weeks, you’ll be introduced to key programming concepts. You’ll have the chance to apply your understanding of them through projects, both unplugged and on a computer, using Scratch as the programming language. Discover common mistakes and pitfalls and develop strategies to fix them.

SIGN UP FOR COURSE 2

Sign up begins today with the courses themselves starting in mid February 2017. We hope they will inspire a new army of enthusiastic makers around the world!

 

Volunteer to help us run Code Club Teacher Training

We’re on the search for enthusiastic volunteers who could help us run teacher training for the computing curriculum!

Why we need your help…

It’s just over one year since the introduction of the new computing curriculum in English schools. Back in September 2014, the new curriculum was hailed with cheers from the UK’s technology industry who saw the change as a first step in addressing the growing digital skills gap, whilst many educators reacted with concern.

The simple fact is that most teachers were never taught to code, either at school or as part of their teaching qualification. A study from TES reflected this, revealing that two-thirds of teachers felt unprepared to teach brand new, technically focussed subject matter.

Robot 001At Code Club, we have been working to change that, with our Teacher Training programme.

To date we’ve trained 1186 teachers with the help of 250 amazing volunteers. This year, we have started running training sessions that are free at the point of access for teachers.

Now we’re looking for trainers who can volunteer to run these sessions. Think you might be able to help? Read on…

What’s involved?

  1. Take our five minute quiz (it’s just nine questions to determine your knowledge of programming)
  2. An informal phone or skype interview
  3. Attend a training day

How does it work?

It’s pretty simple really. We provide free training for volunteers with some experience, interest or passion in computer science to run sessions for teachers. All materials you need for sessions with teachers will be provided. You will also receive a full training day about how to deliver effective training.

Teachers can sign up on our website. They provide contact details and several dates that they want training. On our training days we match volunteers with schools based on their availability.

What training do we offer you?

It’s a full day’s professional seminar. There will be anywhere from 10 to 20 people involved. The day itself is run by Ali Redmore, former executive director of the Science Learning Centre, and teacher. On the day we give all sorts of tips and tricks about how to run sessions, how adults learn, behaviour management, in depth look at our materials and setting up your first session.

Most people that attend a training day have never taught before. We welcome anyone who has an interest in computer science and helping teachers.

I’m interested, where do I sign up?

Head to www.codeclubpro.org/become-a-trainer and sign up. Our next training session for volunteers is in Birmingham on Saturday 7th November 2015. We’re looking forward to meeting you!

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