Raspberry Pi Foundation blog: news, announcements, stories, ideas https://www.raspberrypi.org Teach, learn and make with Raspberry Pi Mon, 16 May 2022 08:30:38 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://www.raspberrypi.org/app/uploads/2020/06/cropped-raspberrry_pi_logo-100x100.png Raspberry Pi Foundation blog: news, announcements, stories, ideas https://www.raspberrypi.org 32 32 Celebrate Scratch Week with us https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/scratch-week/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/scratch-week/#respond Mon, 16 May 2022 08:29:29 +0000 https://www.raspberrypi.org/?p=79655 Scratch Week is a global celebration of Scratch that takes place from 15 to 21 May this year. Below, we’ve put together some free resources to help get kids coding with this easy-to-use, block-based programming language. If you’re not sure what Scratch is, check out our introduction video for parents. Visit Scratch Island on Code Club…

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Scratch Week is a global celebration of Scratch that takes place from 15 to 21 May this year. Below, we’ve put together some free resources to help get kids coding with this easy-to-use, block-based programming language. If you’re not sure what Scratch is, check out our introduction video for parents.

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Visit Scratch Island on Code Club World

Code Club World is a great place to start coding for children who have never done any coding or programming before. The Code Club World online platform lets them begin their coding journey with fun activities, starting by creating their own personal avatar.

The islands on Code Club World.

Then on Scratch Island, kids can code a game to find a hidden bug, design a fun ‘silly eyes’ app, or animate a story. No experience necessary! We’ve just added a parents’ guide to explain how Code Club World works.

Explore Scratch projects 

For kids who feel ready to move beyond the basics of Scratch this Scratch Week, our Projects site offers a catalogue of projects that further enhance kids’ coding skills as they earn badges and explore, design, and invent.

A platform game your kids can code in Scratch with our project path.

With the More Scratch path, they will create six projects to make apps, games, and simulations using message broadcasting, if..then and if..then..else decisions, and variables. Then with the Further Scratch path, they can explore the advanced features of Scratch in another six projects to use boolean logic, functions, and clones while creating apps, games, computer-generated art, and simulations.

Discover young people’s Scratch creations

Be inspired by the amazing things young tech creators worldwide code in Scratch by visiting the Coolest Projects Global 2022 showcase. Young people are showing off Scratch games, stories, art, and more. In our Coolest Projects online gallery, these creations are displayed amongst hundreds of others from around the world — it’s the ideal place to get inspired.

A young coder shows off her tech project for Coolest Projects to two other young tech creators.

Learn something new with our Introduction to Scratch course 

Are you curious about coding too? If you would like to start learning so you can better help young people with their creative projects, our online course Introduction to Programming with Scratch is perfect for you. It’s available on-demand, so you can join at any time and receive four weeks’ free access (select the ‘limited access’ option when you register). This course is a fun, inspiring, and colourful starting point if you have never tried coding before. 

If you’re a parent looking for more coding activities to share with your kids, you can sign up to our parent-focused newsletter.

We hope you enjoy exploring these resources during Scratch Week. 

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Teaching with Raspberry Pi Pico in the computing classroom https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-pico-classroom-physical-computing/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-pico-classroom-physical-computing/#comments Thu, 12 May 2022 09:30:40 +0000 https://www.raspberrypi.org/?p=79457 Raspberry Pi Pico is a low-cost microcontroller that can be connected to another computer to be programmed using MicroPython. We think it’s a great tool for exploring physical computing in classrooms and coding clubs. Pico has been available since last year, amid school closures, reopenings, isolation periods, and restrictions for students and teachers. Recently, I…

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Raspberry Pi Pico is a low-cost microcontroller that can be connected to another computer to be programmed using MicroPython. We think it’s a great tool for exploring physical computing in classrooms and coding clubs. Pico has been available since last year, amid school closures, reopenings, isolation periods, and restrictions for students and teachers. Recently, I spoke to some teachers in England about how their reception of Raspberry Pi Pico, and how they have found using it to teach physical computing to their learners.

A student uses a Raspberry Pi Pico in the computing classroom.

This blog post is adapted from issue 18 of Hello World, our free magazine written by computing educators for computing educators.

Extra-curricular engagement

At secondary schools, a key use of Raspberry Pi Pico was in teacher-led lunchtime or after-school clubs. One teacher from a girls’ secondary school in Liverpool described how he introduced it to his Women in Tech club, which he runs for 11- to 12-year-old students for half an hour per week at lunchtime. As this teacher has free rein over the club content and a personal passion for Raspberry Pi, his eventual aim for the club participants was to build a line-following car using Pico.

On a wooden desktop, electronic components, a Raspberry Pi Pico, and a motor next to a keyboard.

The group started by covering the basics of Pico, such as connecting it with a breadboard and making LEDs flash, using our ‘Getting started with Raspberry Pi Pico’ project guide. The teacher described how walking into a room with Picos and physical computing kits grabs students’ attention: “It’s massively more engaging than programming Python on a screen… They love the idea of building something physical, like a car.” He has to remind them that phones aren’t allowed at school, as they’re keen to take photos of the flashing lights to show their parents. His overall verdict? “Once the software had been installed, [Picos are] just plug and play. As a tool in school, it gives you something physical, enthuses interest in the subject. If it gets just one person choosing the subject, who wouldn’t have done otherwise, then job done.”

“If it gets just one person choosing the subject, who wouldn’t have done otherwise, then job done.”

Teacher at a Liverpool girls’ secondary school

Another teacher from a school in Hampshire used Picos at an after-school club with students aged 13 to 15. After about six sessions of less than 50 minutes last term, the students have almost finished building motorised buggies. The first two sessions were spent familiarising students with the Picos, making LEDs flash, and using sensors. In the next four sessions, the students made their way through the Pico-focused physical computing unit from our Teach Computing Curriculum. The students worked in pairs, and initially some learners had trouble getting the motors to turn the wheels on their buggies. Rather than giving them the correct code, the teacher gave them duplicate sets of the hardware and suggested that they test each piece in turn to ‘debug’ the hardware. Thus the students quickly worked out what they needed to do to make the wheels turn.

A soldered Raspberry Pi Pico on a breadboard.

For non-formal learning settings such as computing and coding clubs, we’ve just released a six-project learning path called ‘Introduction to Raspberry Pi Pico’ for beginner digital makers. You can check out the path directly, or learn more about how we’ve designed it to encourage learners’ independence.

Reinforcing existing computing skills

Another key theme that came through in my conversations with teachers was how Raspberry Pi Pico can be used to reinforce learners’ existing computing skills. One teacher I interviewed, from a school in Essex, has been using Picos to teach computing to 12- to 14-year-olds in class, and talked about the potential for physical computing as a pedagogical tool for recapping topics that have been covered before. “If [physical computing] is taught well, it enhances students’ understanding of programming. If they just copy code from the board, it becomes about the kit and not how you solve a problem, it’s not as effective at helping them develop their computational thinking. Teaching Python on Pico really can strengthen existing understanding of using Python libraries and subroutines, as well as passing subroutine arguments.”

“If [physical computing] is taught well, it enhances students’ understanding of programming.”

Teacher at an Essex secondary school

Another teacher I spoke to, working at a Waterlooville school and relatively new to teaching, talked about the benefits of using Pico to teach Python: “It takes some of the anxiety away from computing for some of the younger students and makes them more resilient. They can be wary of making mistakes, and see them as a hurdle, but working towards a tangible output can help some students to see the value of learning through their mistakes.”

Raspberry Pi Pico attached with jumper wires to a purple LED.

This teacher was keen for his students to get a sense of the variety of jobs that are available in the computing sector, and not just in software. He explained how physical computing can demonstrate to students how you can make inputs, outputs, and processing very real: “Give students a Pico and make them thirsty about what they could do with it — the device allows them to interact with it and work out how to bend it to what they want to do. You can be creative in computing without just writing code, you can capture information and output it again in a more useful way.”

“Working towards a tangible output can help some students to see the value of learning through their mistakes.”

Teacher at a Waterlooville school

One of the teachers we spoke to was initially a bit cynical about Pico, but had a much better experience of using it in the classroom than expected: “It’s not such a big progression from block-based microcontrollers to Pico — it could be a good stepping stone between, for example, a micro:bit and a Raspberry Pi computer.”

Why not try out Raspberry Pi Pico in your classroom or club? It might be the engagement booster you’ve been looking for!  

Top teacher tips for activities with Raspberry Pi Pico

  • Prepare to install Thonny (the software we recommend to program Pico) on your school’s or venue’s IT systems, and ask your IT technician for support.
  • It takes time to unpack devices, connect them, and pack them back up again. Build this time into your plan!

Free learning resources for using Raspberry Pi Pico in your classroom or club

Teachers at state schools in England can borrow physical computing kits with class sets of Raspberry Pi Picos from their local Computing Hub. We’ve made these kits available through our work as part of the National Centre for Computing Education. The Pico kit is perfect for teaching the Pico-focused physical computing unit from our Teach Computing Curriculum.

Qualified US-based educators can still get their hands on 1 of 1000 free Raspberry Pi Pico hardware kits if they sign up to our free course Design, build, and code a rover with Raspberry Pi Pico. This course shows you how to introduce Pico in your classroom. We’ve designed the course on the Pathfinders Online Institute platform, specifically for US-based educators, thanks to our partners at Infosys Foundation USA. These Raspberry Pi Pico kits are also available at PiShop.us.

For non-formal learning settings, such as Code Clubs and CoderDojos, we’ve created a six-project learning path: ‘Introduction to Raspberry Pi Pico’. This path is for beginner digital makers to follow and create Pico projects, all the while learning the skills to independently design, code, and build their own projects. All of the components for the path are available as a kit from Pimoroni.

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Get kids coding and learning electronics with Raspberry Pi Pico https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/kids-coding-electronics-raspberry-pi-pico-free-learning-resource/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/kids-coding-electronics-raspberry-pi-pico-free-learning-resource/#respond Wed, 11 May 2022 09:56:18 +0000 https://www.raspberrypi.org/?p=79496 Since the release of the Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller in 2021, we have seen people all over the world come up with creative Pico-based inventions. Now, thanks to our brand-new and free ‘Introduction to Raspberry Pi Pico’ learning path, young coders can easily join in and make their own cool Pico projects! This free learning…

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Since the release of the Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller in 2021, we have seen people all over the world come up with creative Pico-based inventions.

Raspberry Pi Pico with its inbuilt LED blinking.
The Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller.

Now, thanks to our brand-new and free ‘Introduction to Raspberry Pi Pico’ learning path, young coders can easily join in and make their own cool Pico projects! This free learning path has six guided projects to help kids to independently develop their coding skills, and their skills in physical computing and electronics.

A girl creates a physical computing project.
Physical computing is a great way to help young people get creative with coding.

In this post, I’ll tell you about Raspberry Pi Pico, what kids can make by following our free ‘Intro to Pico’ path, and what skills they will be learning.

Meet Raspberry Pi Pico

Raspberry Pi Pico is a physical computing device that is low-cost and easy to use. It’s much smaller than any Raspberry Pi computer, and it needs much less power. That’s because it’s not a full computer but instead a microcontroller. That means Pico is a device that you program by writing code on any computer, and then sending that code to Pico via a USB cable.

Raspberry Pi Pico has GPIO pins (like Raspberry Pi computers do). These pins mean it can interact with different types of physical computing components, such as buttons, buzzers, and LEDs.

In the ‘Intro to Raspberry Pi Pico’ path, we’ve designed new digital making projects specifically using Pico. By following the projects in the path, young people learn to make things with different electronic components. They’ll bring to life their own LED fireflies; they’ll make music with a sound machine and dial (a potentiometer); they’ll look after themselves and people around them by making a mood indicator and a heart rate visualiser. To find out more, visit the path, or scroll to the bottom of this post and click on ‘Details about the projects’.

The specially designed structure of our learning paths helps kids become confident and independent coders and digital makers. Through this project path, we want to show young people what is possible with Raspberry Pi Pico and inspire them to continue their digital making journey beyond the six projects. Seeing tech creations from our amazing community is super special to us, and we would love to hear about what your young coders have made with Pico. Kids can share their projects in the path gallery, or you can tag us on social media if you post photos!   

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Learning skills and independence with our project paths 

While young people make all these Raspberry Pi Pico projects, they will learn the skills and independence to make and code their very own, unique creations with a Pico. We have designed our new project paths to help kids become independent digital makers. As they progress through a path, kids gain new skills, practise what they have learnt, and finally write and follow their own project brief. 

Our learning paths help kids develop many of the skills that are important to all coders and digital makers, no matter how much experience they have: 

  • How to turn an idea on paper into a tech creation
  • How to debug a project
  • How to combine new information with what they already know about digital making 

The learning paths also encourage kids to make projects about the things that matter to them.  

Key questions answered

Who is this path for?

We have written the projects in this path with young people around the age of 9 to 13 in mind. 

Programs for Raspberry Pi Pico are written in a text-based language called MicroPython. That means a young person who wants to start the ‘Intro to Pico’ path needs to be familiar with typing on a keyboard.

A young person codes at a Raspberry Pi computer.

If your kid has never coded in a text-based language before, they could complete our free ‘Introduction to Python‘ project path first, but this is not a prerequisite.

What will young people learn?

To help with the programming aspects of the projects, the instructions in the path tell young people about:  

  • Displaying output
  • Arithmetic expressions
  • Importing from a library
  • While loops
  • Nested if statements
  • Defining and calling functions
  • Events
Raspberry Pi Pico attached with jumper wires to a purple LED.
We still get excited by a flashing LED.

One of the great things about this project path is that it helps young people explore physical computing and electronics. In the ‘Intro to Pico’ path, they’ll use:

  • Single-colour LEDs
  • Multi-colour LEDs (so-called RGB LEDs)
  • Buzzers
  • Switches (including switches the kids will make out of craft materials!)
  • Buttons
  • Potentiometers (dials)

How much time is needed to complete the path?

We’ve designed the path to be completed in around six one-hour sessions, with one hour per project. However, the project instructions encourage kids to upgrade their projects and go further if they wish. This means that they might want to spend a little more time getting their projects exactly as they imagine. 

What software is needed for the projects?

Young people need a web browser so they can follow the project instructions. The first two projects in the path provide detailed instructions for how to install the free software needed for the projects. 

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The projects in the path show you how to program Raspberry Pi Pico using MicroPython in the Thonny software.

What hardware is needed for these projects?

The first step of each project lists what components are needed to create the project. You can purchase a kit from Pimoroni that includes all of the components used in the path:

‘Intro to Raspberry Pi Pico’ kit list (click here)
  • 1 × soldered Raspberry Pi Pico
  • 1 × USB cable
  • 1 × red LED
  • 1 × blue LED
  • 2 × yellow LEDs
  • 6 × single-colour LEDs (random)
  • 3 × RGB LEDs
  • 15 × 75 ohm resistors (max 220 ohm)
  • 2 × potentiometers
  • 8 × push buttons (optional, these can be made from crafting materials)
  • 15 × pin–socket jumper wires
  • 38 × socket–socket jumper wires
  • 4 × pin–pin jumper wires

What can young people do next?

Explore Python coding with us 

If your young coders enjoy MicroPython, they’ll also love our Python learning paths: ‘Introduction to Python‘ and More Python‘. Both are structured in the same way as our Pico path, and will help young people learn Python while creating their own visual designs.

A girl points happily at a project on the Raspberry Pi Foundation's projects site.
Details about the projects in ‘Intro to Raspberry Pi Pico’
The ‘Intro to Raspberry Pi Pico’ path is structured according to our Digital Making Framework, with three Explore projects, two Design projects, and a final Invent project. You can also check out our learning graph to see the progression of skills and knowledge throughout the path.

Explore project 1: LED firefly


The ‘LED firefly’ project introduces creators to Raspberry Pi Pico while they make their first project with a blinking LED. They program the LED with a blink pattern that is common to fireflies in the wild. To upgrade their projects, creators can place their LED firefly into a glass jar to create a twinkling effect.  

Explore project 2: Party popper


‘Party popper’ introduces creators to the RGB LED and a buzzer. To form the popper, they craft a pull switch out of kitchen foil and cardboard. When the popper is activated, the RGB LED flashes in their chosen colour, and a ‘tada’ sound plays on the buzzer. 

Explore project 3: Beating heart


‘Beating heart’ uses a potentiometer (dial) to control the pulsing speed of an LED. Creators craft their own hearts using red paper and origami before placing the pulsing LED inside. In this way, they create a model of a heart they can use to learn about medicine or to bring to life a favourite toy. 

Design project 1: Mood indicator


In the ‘Mood indicator’ project, kids use switches and an RGB LED to create a device that can communicate a need or a mood to another person. This Design project gives young creators lots of opportunities to use their new skills to create something personal to them.

Design project 2: Sound machine

 
‘Sound machine’ is a project for kids to work with the different tones that a buzzer can make. They can use the buzzer to create sound effects, or to recreate their favourite songs. Once they have decided on their sounds, they can think about how a user of their project might choose to play them. 

Invent project: Sensory gadget

 
This project gives creators that chance to pick their favourite elements of the path to create something totally unique to them. They could make all sorts of sensory gadgets, from a Picosaber to a candle that can be blown out. Creators are encouraged to showcase their creations in the path gallery to give other young makers inspiration. 

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A storytelling approach for engaging girls in the Computing classroom: Pilot study results https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/gender-balance-in-computing-storytelling-approach-engaging-girls/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/gender-balance-in-computing-storytelling-approach-engaging-girls/#comments Tue, 10 May 2022 07:00:00 +0000 https://www.raspberrypi.org/?p=79432 We’ve been running the Gender Balance in Computing programme of research since 2019, as part of the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) and with various partners. It’s a £2.4 million research programme funded by the Department for Education in England that aims to identify ways to encourage more girls and young women to engage…

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We’ve been running the Gender Balance in Computing programme of research since 2019, as part of the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) and with various partners. It’s a £2.4 million research programme funded by the Department for Education in England that aims to identify ways to encourage more girls and young women to engage with Computing and choose to study it further. The programme is made up of four separate areas of research, in which we are running a number of interventions.

Teenage students and a teacher do coding during a computer science lesson.

The first independent evaluation report from the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) on our series of interventions has now been published. It relates to an intervention within the research area ‘Teaching Approach’, evaluating our pilot study of teaching computing to Key Stage 1 children using a storytelling approach. The evaluators from BIT found that this pilot study produced evidence of promise for the storytelling approach. They recommend conducting a full-size trial to test how effective this approach is for engaging female pupils with Computing.

Teaching computing through storytelling

Like many Computing curricula around the world, the English National Curriculum emphasises the importance of teaching Computing through a range of content so that pupils can express themselves and develop their ideas using digital tools. Our ‘Teaching Approach’ project builds on research grounded in sociocultural learning theories that suggest teaching approaches that encourage collaboration and use a variety of contexts can make Computing a more inclusive subject for all learners. Within this project, we are running three different interventions, each with learners of different ages.

In a computing classroom, a girl looks at a computer screen.

Evidence indicates that gender stereotypes around Computing develop early (1). Therefore we designed a trial — the first of its kind in England — to explore a storytelling approach for teaching Computing with younger children (6- to 7-year-olds). A small body of research suggests that using storytelling as a learning context for Computing can be engaging for both boys and girls. Research results indicate that:

  • Teaching computing through storytelling and story-writing is effective for motivating 11- to 14-year-old girls to learn programming (2)
  • Children who write computer programs to tell stories see Computing as a subject that is equally as easy or difficult for both boys and girls (3)
  • In a non-formal learning space, primary-aged girls are more likely to choose a storybook beginner electronics activity rather than open-ended beginner electronics free play (4)

The pilot study and the evaluation methods

As combining evidence from research with older students and in non-formal education is experimental, we designed this storytelling trial as a small pilot study. Our aim was to generate early evidence as to how feasible a teaching approach that uses storytelling might be in the primary Computing classroom.

We recruited 53 schools to take part in the pilot study, which ran from April to July 2021. Many schools were still facing challenges due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and we are very grateful to the teachers and learners who have taken part for their contribution to this important research.

In a computing classroom, a girl looks at a computer screen.

To conduct the study, we created a free online training course, and a scheme of work, for schools to teach Computing concepts to 6- and 7-year olds using a storytelling approach. Over a sequence of the 12 lessons in the scheme of work, pupils used the ScratchJr programming environment to animate their own digital stories and learn about Computing concepts, such as sequence and repetition, linked to elements of stories, such as structure, rhyme, and speech.

A school's tweet about taking part in our pilot study of a storytelling approach to teaching computing to learners aged 6 to 7.

To enable the independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the storytelling approach by BIT, schools were allocated either to an intervention group, which used the training course and the storytelling scheme of work, or to a control group, which taught Computing in their usual way and was not made aware that the approach being trialled involved storytelling. For their evaluation, BIT gathered data from both groups to compare them:

  • They conducted surveys measuring learners’ attitudes toward computing and their intentions to study it in the future
  • They carried out observations of lessons, interviews with teachers, and discussions with learners
  • They ran a survey to gather feedback about the trial from teachers

The gathered data was assessed against five categories: evidence of promise, fidelity, acceptability, feasibility, and readiness for trial.

Main findings of the evaluation team

After analysing the data collected from observations, interviews, learner discussions, pupil surveys, and teacher surveys, the key finding of the independent evaluators was that the storytelling teaching approach had evidence of promise, and that it is worthwhile scaling up our intervention for a larger trial with more schools.

The evaluators’ teacher interviews confirmed the early development of gender stereotypes in the classroom. This highlights the importance of introducing Computing to young learners in a way that engages both boys and girls. 

“I’ve really noticed how there’s already differences in views of what’s a boy, what’s a girl, the boys are getting in front of me, like, ‘I want a boy car, I don’t want a girl car’. Then we’ve got the other side where we’ve got fairy tales and princesses and, ‘Oh, I’m a bunny. Do you want to play with me?’”

Teacher (evaluation report, p. 22)

Teachers told the evaluators that pupils enjoyed personalising their stories in ScratchJr, and that they themselves felt positive about the use of storytelling to teach computing. 

“I think [the storytelling aspect] gives them something real to work through, so it’s not… abstract… I think through the storytelling, they’re able to make it as funny or whatever they want, and it’s also their own interest. [Female student], she dotes on animals, so she’s always having giraffes and all of that, so it’s something that they can make their own connections too… Yes, I did really like the storytelling.”

Teacher (evaluation report, p. 26)

Teacher feedback provided some evidence that the storytelling lessons had equally increased both male and female pupils’ interest, confidence, and skills.

Young learners at computers in a classroom.

The independent evaluation team advised caution when interpreting the quantitative data from the pupil surveys, due to the small sample size in this pilot study and the high attrition rates caused by coronavirus-related disruptions. We ourselves would like to add that the study raises questions about the reliability of quantitative survey data collected from very young children using Likert scales, BIT’s chosen survey format for this evaluation. Although the evaluators have made some positive steps in creating a new survey suitable for young children, this research instrument may need further testing; the survey results would need to be interpreted in this light, and more research in this area would be recommended.

You can read the full evaluation report on the NCCE website.

Future directions

This intervention was based on one of the teaching approaches for which there was only early evidence of effectiveness, so it is a good outcome to have a larger trial recommended based on our pilot study. It’s often said that research ends up recommending more research, but in this case our small pilot project really does give robust evidence that we should trial the storytelling approach with more schools.

In a computing classroom, a girl looks at a computer screen.

The independent evaluators collected feedback from both teachers and pupils that confirms the storytelling intervention we designed is feasible in the classroom. The feedback also indicates where we can make small adjustments that will refine and develop the training and scheme of work for a larger-scale study (evaluation report, p. 35), and we will consider this feedback carefully. While some teachers suggested that the training be shortened, less experienced teachers highlighted the need to ensure the training introduces teachers to all of the content covered in the lessons. This feedback helps us to better understand how Computing is taught in primary schools, and how this is influenced by the wide variety of experience and subject knowledge that teachers have. Interestingly, in the control group, some of the teachers reported that they also introduced coding to their learners by having them create stories. We would like to conduct further research into how schools introduce young learners to programming, and we’ll be continuing to reflect on how best to offer flexible content for teacher training related to our research studies.

We’re now looking at how to continue to investigate the effectiveness of the storytelling approach through a larger trial, alongside other projects in which we’re exploring female engagement in computing education through our recently established Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre.

More evaluations are on the way for our other studies in the Gender Balance in Computing programme, including:

  • Two other trials of teaching approaches
  • Interventions in non-formal education contexts
  • Trials of approaches to building a sense of belonging in Computing
  • Research into the impact of timetabling and options evenings

If you would like to stay up-to-date with the research programme, you can sign up to the Gender Balance in Computing newsletter. We will also post our reflections on the projects on this blog when the evaluations are completed.


1 Mulvey, K. L. and Irvin, M. J. (2018). Judgments and reasoning about exclusion from counter-stereotypic STEM career choices in early childhood. Early Child. Res. Q. 44, 220–230. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2018.03.016

2 Kelleher, C., Pausch, R. and Kiesler, S. (2007). Storytelling alice motivates middle school girls to learn computer programming. In CHI ’07: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1455–1464. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.1145/1240624.1240844

3 Zaidi, R., Freihofer, I. and Childress Townsend, G. (2017). Using Scratch and Female Role Models while Storytelling Improves Fifth-Grade Students’ Attitudes toward Computing. In SIGCSE ’17: Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, 791–792. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.1145/3017680.3022451

4 McLean, M., & Harlow, D. (2017). Designing inclusive STEM activities: A comparison of playful interactive experiences across gender. In IDC ’17: Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Interaction Design and Children, 567–574. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.1145/3078072.3084326

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299 experiments from young people run on the ISS in Astro Pi Mission Space Lab 2021/22 https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/299-experiments-young-people-iss-astro-pi-mission-space-lab-2021-22/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/299-experiments-young-people-iss-astro-pi-mission-space-lab-2021-22/#comments Wed, 04 May 2022 08:38:33 +0000 https://www.raspberrypi.org/?p=79373 We and our partners at ESA Education are excited to announce that 299 teams of young people who entered Mission Space Lab this year have achieved flight status as part of the 2021/22 European Astro Pi Challenge. This means that these young people’s programs are the first ever to run on the two upgraded Astro…

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We and our partners at ESA Education are excited to announce that 299 teams of young people who entered Mission Space Lab this year have achieved flight status as part of the 2021/22 European Astro Pi Challenge. This means that these young people’s programs are the first ever to run on the two upgraded Astro Pi units on board the International Space Station (ISS).

Two Astro Pi units on board the International Space Station.

Mission Space Lab gives teams of young people up to age 19 the opportunity to design and conduct their own scientific experiments that run on board the ISS. It’s an eight-month long activity that follows the European school year. The exciting hardware upgrades inspired a record number of young people to send us their Mission Space Lab experiment ideas.

Logo of Mission Space Lab, part of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

Teams who want to take on Mission Space Lab choose between two themes for their experiments, investigating either ‘Life in space’ or ‘Life on Earth’. From this year onwards, thanks to the new Astro Pi hardware, teams can also choose to use new sensors and a Coral machine learning accelerator during their experiment time.

Investigating life in space

Using the Astro Pi units’ sensors, teams can investigate life inside the Columbus module of the ISS. This year, 71 ‘Life in space’ experiments are running on the Astro Pi units. The 71 teams are investigating a wide range of topics: for example, how the Earth’s magnetic field is experienced on the ISS in space, how the environmental conditions that the astronauts experience compare with those on Earth beneath the ISS on its orbit, or whether the conditions in the ISS might be suitable for other lifeforms, such as plants or bacteria.

The mark 2 Astro Pi units spin in microgravity on the International Space Station.

For ‘Life in space’ experiments, teams can collect data about factors such as the colour and intensity of cabin light (using the new colour and luminosity sensor included in the upgraded hardware), astronaut movement in the cabin (using the new PIR sensor), and temperature and humidity (using the Sense HAT add-on board’s standard sensors).

Investigating life on Earth

Using the camera on an Astro Pi unit when it’s positioned to view Earth from a window of the ISS, teams can investigate features on the Earth’s surface. This year, for the first time, teams had the option to use visible-light instead of infrared (IR) photography, thanks to the new Astro Pi cameras.

An Astro Pi unit at a window on board the International Space Station.

228 teams’ ‘Life on Earth’ experiments are running this year. Some teams are using the Astro Pis’ sensors to determine the precise location of the ISS when images are captured, to identify whether the ISS is flying over land or sea, or which country it is passing over. Other teams are using IR photography to examine plant health and the effects of deforestation in different regions. Some teams are using visible-light photography to analyse clouds, calculate the velocity of the ISS, and classify biomes (e.g. desert, forest, grassland, wetland) it is passing over. The new hardware available from this year onward has helped to encourage 144 of the teams to use machine learning techniques in their experiments.

Testing, testing, testing

We received 88% more idea submissions for Mission Space Lab this year compared to last year: during Phase 1, 799 teams sent us their experiment ideas. We invited 502 of the teams to proceed to Phase 2 based on the quality of their ideas. 386 teams wrote their code and submitted computer programs for their experiments during Phase 2 this year. Achieving flight status, and thus progressing to Phase 3 of Mission Space Lab, is really a huge accomplishment for the 299 successful teams.

Three replica Astro Pi units on a wooden shelf.
Three replica Astro Pi units run tests on the Mission Space Lab programs submitted by young people.

For us, Phase 2 involved putting every team’s program through a number of tests to make sure that it follows experiment rules, doesn’t compromise the safety and security of the ISS, and will run without errors on the Astro Pi units. Testing means that April is a very busy time for us in the Astro Pi team every year. We run these tests on a number of exact replicas of the new Astro Pis, including a final test to run every experiment that has passed every test for the full 3 hours allotted to each team. The 299 experiments with flight status will run on board the ISS for over 5 weeks in total during Phase 3, and once they have started running, we can’t rely on astronaut intervention to resolve issues. So we have to make sure that all of the programs will run without any problems.

Part of the South Island (Te Waipounamu) of New Zealand (Aotearoa), photographed from the International Space Station using an Astro Pi unit.
The South Island (Te Waipounamu) of New Zealand (Aotearoa), photographed from the International Space Station using an Astro Pi unit. Click to enlarge.

Thanks to the team at ESA, we are delighted that 67 more Mission Space Lab experiments are running on the ISS this year compared to last year. In fact, teams’ experiments using the Astro Pi units are underway right now!

The 299 teams awarded flight status this year represent 23 countries and 1205 young people, with 32% female participants and an average age of 15. Spain has the most teams with experiments progressing to Phase 3 (38), closely followed by the UK (34), Italy (27), Romania (23), and Greece (22).

Four photographs of regions of the Earth taken on the International Space Station using an Astro Pi unit.
Four photographs of the Earth taken on the International Space Station using an Astro Pi unit. Click to enlarge.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to run every Mission Space Lab experiment submitted, as there is only limited time for the Astro Pis to be positioned in the ISS window. We wish we could run every experiment that is submitted, but unfortunately time on the ISS, especially on the nadir window, is limited. Eliminating programs was very difficult because of the high quality of this year’s submissions. Many unsuccessful teams’ programs were eliminated based on very small issues. 87 teams submitted programs this year which did not pass testing and so could not be awarded flight status.

The teams whose experiments are not progressing to Phase 3 should still be very proud to have designed experiments that passed Phase 1, and to have made a Phase 2 submission. We recognise how much work all Mission Space Lab teams have done, and we hope to see you again in next year’s Astro Pi Challenge.

What’s next?

Once the programs for all the experiments have run, we will send the teams the data collected by their experiments for Phase 4. In this final phase of Mission Space Lab, teams analyse their data and write a short report to describe their findings. Based on these reports, the ESA Education and Raspberry Pi Foundation teams will determine the winner of this year’s Mission Space Lab. The winning and highly commended teams will receive special prizes.

Congratulations to all Mission Space Lab teams who’ve achieved flight status! We are really looking forward to reading your reports.

Logo of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

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A cybersecurity club for girls | Hello World #18 https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/cybersecurity-club-girls-hello-world-18/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/cybersecurity-club-girls-hello-world-18/#comments Thu, 28 Apr 2022 08:49:09 +0000 https://www.raspberrypi.org/?p=79303 In this article adapted from Hello World issue 18, teacher Babak Ebrahim explains how his school uses a cybersecurity club to increase interest in Computing among girls. Babak is a Computer Science and Mathematics teacher at Bishop Challoner Catholic College Secondary in Birmingham, UK. He is a CAS Community Leader, and works as a CS…

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In this article adapted from Hello World issue 18, teacher Babak Ebrahim explains how his school uses a cybersecurity club to increase interest in Computing among girls. Babak is a Computer Science and Mathematics teacher at Bishop Challoner Catholic College Secondary in Birmingham, UK. He is a CAS Community Leader, and works as a CS Champion for the National Centre for Computing Education in England.

Cybersecurity for girls

It is impossible to walk into an upper-secondary computer science lesson and not notice the number of boys compared to girls. This is a common issue across the world; it is clear from reading community forums and news headlines that there is a big gap in female representation in computing. To combat this problem in my school, I started organising trips to local universities and arranging assembly talks for my Year 9 students (aged 13–14). Although this was helpful, it didn’t have as much impact as I expected on improving female representation.

Girls do a cybersecurity activity at a school club.
Girls engage in a cryptography activity at the club.

This led me to alter our approach and target younger female students with an extracurricular club. As part of our lower-secondary curriculum, all pupils study encryption and cryptography, and we were keen to extend this interest beyond lesson time. I discovered the CyberFirst Girls Competition, aimed at Year 8 girls in England (aged 12–13) with the goal of influencing girls when choosing their GCSE subjects (qualifications pupils take aged 14–16). Each school can enter as many teams as they like, with a maximum of four girls in each team. I advertised the event by showing a video of the previous year’s attendees and the winning team. To our delight, 19 girls, in five teams, entered the competition.

Club activities at school

To make sure that this wasn’t a one-off event, we started an after-school cybersecurity club for girls. All Computing teachers encouraged their female students to attend. We had a number of female teachers who were teaching Maths and Computing as their second subjects, and I found it more effective when these teachers encouraged the girls to join. They would also help with running the club. We found it to be most popular with Year 7 students (aged 11–12), with 15 girls regularly attending. We often do cryptography tasks in the club, including activities from established competitions. For example, I recently challenged the club to complete tasks from the most recent Alan Turing Cryptography Competition. A huge benefit of completing these tasks in the club, rather than in the classroom, was that students could work more informally and were not under pressure to succeed. I found this year’s tasks quite challenging for younger students, and I was worried that this could put them off returning to the club. To avoid this, I first taught the students the skills that they would need for one of the challenges, followed by small tasks that I made myself over two or three sessions.

Three teenage girls at a laptop

For example, one task required students to use the Playfair cipher to break a long piece of code. In order to prepare students for decoding this text, I showed them how the cipher works, then created empty grids (5 x 5 tables) and modelled the technique with simple examples. The girls then worked in teams of two to encrypt a short quote. I gave each group a different quotation, and they weren’t allowed to let other groups know what it was. Once they applied the cipher, they handed the encrypted message to another group, whose job was to decrypt it. At this stage, some would identify that the other group had made mistakes using the techniques, and they would go through the text together to identify them. Once students were confident and competent in using this cipher, I presented them with the competition task, and they then applied the same process. Of course, some students would still make mistakes, but they would realise this and be able to work through them, rather than being overwhelmed by them. Another worthwhile activity in the club has been for older pupils, who are in their second year of attending, to mentor and support girls in the years below them, especially in preparation for participating in competitions.

Trips afield

Other club activities have included a trip to Bletchley Park. As a part of the package, students took part in a codebreaking workshop in which they used the Enigma machine to crack encrypted messages. This inspirational trip was a great experience for the girls, as they discovered the pivotal roles women had in breaking codes during the Second World War. If you’re not based in the UK, Bletchley Park also runs a virtual tour and workshops. You could also organise a day trip to a local university where students could attend different workshops run by female lecturers or university students; this could involve a mixture of maths, science, and computer science activities.

Girls do a cybersecurity activity at a school club.
Girls engage in a cryptography activity at the club.

We are thrilled to learn that one of our teams won this year’s CyberFirst Girls Competition! More importantly, the knowledge gained by all the students who attend the club is most heartening, along with the enthusiasm that is clearly evident each week, and the fun that is had. Whether this will have any impact on the number of girls who take GCSE Computer Science remains to be seen, but it certainly gives the girls the opportunity to discover their potential, learn the importance of cybersecurity, and consider pursuing a career in a male-dominated profession. There are many factors that influence a child’s mind as to what they would like to study or do, and every little extra effort that we put into their learning journey will shape who they will become in the future.

What next?

Find out more about teaching cybersecurity

Find out more about the factors influencing girls’ and young women’ engagement in Computing

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AI literacy research: Children and families working together around smart devices https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/ai-literacy-children-families-working-together-ai-education-research/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/ai-literacy-children-families-working-together-ai-education-research/#comments Thu, 21 Apr 2022 10:35:37 +0000 https://www.raspberrypi.org/?p=79248 Between September 2021 and March 2022, we’ve been partnering with The Alan Turing Institute to host a series of free research seminars about how to young people about AI and data science. In the final seminar of the series, we were excited to hear from Stefania Druga from the University of Washington, who presented on…

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Between September 2021 and March 2022, we’ve been partnering with The Alan Turing Institute to host a series of free research seminars about how to young people about AI and data science.

In the final seminar of the series, we were excited to hear from Stefania Druga from the University of Washington, who presented on the topic of AI literacy for families. Stefania’s talk highlighted the importance of families in supporting children to develop AI literacy. Her talk was a perfect conclusion to the series and very well-received by our audience.

Stefania Druga.
Stefania Druga, University of Washington

Stefania is a third-year PhD student who has been working on AI literacy in families, and since 2017 she has conducted a series of studies that she presented in her seminar talk. She presented some new work to us that was to be formally shared at the HCI conference in April, and we were very pleased to have a sneak preview of these results. It was a fascinating talk about the ways in which the interactions between parents and children using AI-based devices in the home, and the discussions they have while learning together, can facilitate an appreciation of the affordances of AI systems, and critical thinking about their limitations and fallibilities. You’ll find my summary as well as the seminar recording below.

“AI literacy practices and skills led some families to consider making meaningful use of AI devices they already have in their homes and redesign their interactions with them. These findings suggest that family has the potential to act as a third space for AI learning.”

– Stefania Druga

AI literacy: Growing up with AI systems, growing used to them

Back in 2017, interest in Alexa and other so-called ‘smart’, AI-based devices was just developing in the public, and such devices would have been very novel to most people. That year, Stefania and colleagues conducted a first pilot study of children’s and their parents’ interactions with ‘smart’ devices, including robots, talking dolls, and the sort of voice assistants we are used to now.

A slide from Stefania Druga's AI literacy seminar. Content is described in the blog text.
A slide from Stefania’s AI literacy seminar. Click to enlarge.

Working directly with families, the researchers explored the level of understanding that children had about ‘smart’ devices, and were surprised by the level of insight very young children had into the potential of this type of technology.

In this AI literacy pilot study, Stefania and her colleagues found that:

  • Children perceived AI-based agents (i.e. ‘smart’ devices) as friendly and truthful
  • They treated different devices (e.g. two different Alexas) as completely independent
  • How ‘smart’ they found the device was dependent on age, with older children more likely to describe devices as ‘smart’

AI literacy: Influence of parents’ perceptions, influence of talking dolls

Stefania’s next study, undertaken in 2018, showed that parents’ perceptions of the implications and potential of ‘smart’ devices shaped what their children thought. Even when parents and children were interviewed separately, if the parent thought that, for example, robots were smarter than humans, then the child did too.

A slide from Stefania Druga's AI literacy seminar.
A slide from Stefania’s AI literacy seminar. Click to enlarge.

Another part of this study showed that talking dolls could influence children’s moral decisions (e.g. “Should I give a child a pillow?”). In some cases, these ‘smart’ toys would influence the child more than another human. Some ‘smart’ dolls have been banned in some European countries because of security concerns. In the light of these concerns, Stefania pointed out how important it is to help children develop a critical understanding of the potential of AI-based technology, and what its fallibility and the limits of its guidance are.

A slide from Stefania Druga's AI literacy seminar.
A slide from Stefania’s AI literacy seminar. Click to enlarge.

AI literacy: Programming ‘smart’ devices, algorithmic bias

Another study Stefania discussed involved children who programmed ‘smart’ devices. She used the children’s drawings to find out about their mental models of how the technology worked.

She found that when children had the opportunity to train machine learning models or ‘smart’ devices, they became more sceptical about the appropriate use of these technologies and asked better questions about when and for what they should be used. Another finding was that children and adults had different ideas about algorithmic bias, particularly relating to the meaning of fairness.

A parent and child work together at a Raspberry Pi computer.

AI literacy: Kinaesthetic activities, sharing discussions

The final study Stefania talked about was conducted with families online during the pandemic, when children were learning at home. 15 families, with in total 18 children (ages 5 to 11) and 16 parents, participated in five weekly sessions. A number of learning activities to demonstrate features of AI made up each of the sessions. These are all available at aiplayground.me.

A slide from Stefania Druga's AI literacy seminar, describing two research questions about how children and parents learn about AI together, and about how to design learning supports for family AI literacies.
A slide from Stefania’s AI literacy seminar. Click to enlarge.

The fact that children and parents, or other family members, worked through the activities together seemed to generate fruitful discussions about the usefulness of AI-based technology. Many families were concerned about privacy and what was happening to their personal data when they were using ‘smart’ devices, and also expressed frustration with voice assistants that couldn’t always understand the way they spoke.

A slide from Stefania Druga's AI literacy seminar. Content described in the blog text.
A slide from Stefania’s AI literacy seminar. Click to enlarge.

In one of the sessions, with a focus on machine learning, families were introduced to a kinaesthetic activity involving moving around their home to train a model. Through this activity, parents and children had more insight into the constraints facing machine learning. They used props in the home to experiment and find out ways of training the model better. In another session, families were encouraged to design their own devices on paper, and Stefania showed some examples of designs children had drawn.

A slide from Stefania Druga's AI literacy seminar. Content described in the blog text.
A slide from Stefania’s AI literacy seminar. Click to enlarge.

This study identified a number of different roles that parents or other adults played in supporting children’s learning about AI, and found that embodied and tangible activities worked well for encouraging joint work between children and their families.

Find out more

You can catch up with Stefania’s seminar below in the video, and download her presentation slides.

More about Stefania’s work can be learned in her paper on children’s training of ML models and also in her latest paper about the five weekly AI literacy sessions with families.

Recordings and slides of all our previous seminars on AI education are available online for you, and you can see the list of AI education resources we’ve put together based on recommendations from seminar speakers and participants.

Join our next free research seminar

We are delighted to start a new seminar series on cross-disciplinary computing, with seminars in May, June, July, and September to look forward to. It’s not long now before we begin: Mark Guzdial will speak to us about task-specific programming languages (TSP) in history and mathematics classes on 3 May, 17.00 to 18.30pm local UK time. I can’t wait!

Sign up to receive the Zoom details for the seminar with Mark:

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Python coding for kids: Moving beyond the basics https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/python-coding-for-kids-beyond-the-basics/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/python-coding-for-kids-beyond-the-basics/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2022 08:55:16 +0000 https://www.raspberrypi.org/?p=79132 We are excited to announce our second new Python learning path, ‘More Python’, which shows young coders how to add real data to their programs while creating projects from a chart of Olympic medals to an interactive world map. The six guided Python projects in this free learning path are designed to enable young people…

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We are excited to announce our second new Python learning path, ‘More Python’, which shows young coders how to add real data to their programs while creating projects from a chart of Olympic medals to an interactive world map. The six guided Python projects in this free learning path are designed to enable young people to independently create their own Python projects about the topics that matter to them.

A girl points excitedly at a project on the Raspberry Pi Foundation's projects site.
Two kids are at a laptop with one of our coding projects.

In this post, we’ll show you how kids use the projects in the ‘More Python’ path, what they can make by following the path, and how the path structure helps them become confident and independent digital makers.

Python coding for kids: Our learning paths

Our ‘Introduction to Python’ learning path is the perfect place to start learning how to use Python, a text-based programming language. When we launched the Intro path in February, we explained why Python is such a popular, useful, and accessible programming language for young people.

Because Python has so much to offer, we have created a second Python path for young people who have learned the basics in the first path. In this new set of six projects, learners will discover new concepts and see how to add different types of real data to their programs.

Illustration of different graph types
By following the ‘More Python’ path, young people learn the skills to independently create a data visualisation for a topic they are passionate about in the final project.

Key questions answered

Who is this path for?

We have written the projects in this path with young people around the age of 10 to 13 in mind. To code in a text-based language, a young person needs to be familiar with using a keyboard, due to the typing involved. Learners should have already completed the ‘Introduction to Python’ project path, as they will build on the learning from that path.

Three young tech creators show off their tech project at Coolest Projects.

How do young people learn with the projects? 

Young people need access to a web browser to complete our project paths. Each project contains step-by-step instructions for learners to follow, and tick boxes to mark when they complete each step. On top of that, the projects have steps for learners to:

  • Reflect on what they have covered in the project
  • Share their projects with others
  • See suggestions to upgrade their projects

Young people also have the option to sign up for an account with us so they can save their progress at any time and collect badges.

A young person codes at a Raspberry Pi computer.

While learners follow the project instructions in this project path, they write their code into Trinket, a free web-based coding platform accessible in a browser. Each project contains a link to a starter Trinket, which includes everything to get started writing Python code — no need to install any additional software.

Screenshot of Python code in the online IDE Trinket.
This is what Python code on Trinket looks like.

If they prefer, however, young people also have the option of instead writing their code in a desktop-based programming environment, such as Thonny, as they work through the projects.

What will young people learn?  

To use data in their Python programs, the project instructions show learners how to:

  • Create and use lists
  • Create and use dictionaries
  • Read data from a data file

The projects support learners as they explore new concepts of digital visual media and: 

  • Create charts using the Python library Pygal
  • Plot pins on a map
  • Create randomised artwork

In each project, learners reflect and answer questions about their work, which is important for connecting the project’s content to their pre-existing knowledge.

In a computing classroom, a girl laughs at what she sees on the screen.

As they work through the projects, learners see different ways to present data and then decide how they want to present their data in the final project in the path. You’ll find out what the projects are on the path page, or at the bottom of this blog post.

The project path helps learners become independent coders and digital makers, as each project contains slightly less support than the one before. You can read about how our project paths are designed to increase young people’s independence, and explore our other free learning paths for young coders

How long will the path take to complete?

We’ve designed the path to be completed in around six one-hour sessions, with one hour per project, at home, in school, or at a coding club. The project instructions encourage learners to add code to upgrade their projects and go further if they wish. This means that young people might want to spend a little more time getting their projects exactly as they imagine them.

In a classroom, a teacher and a student look at a computer screen while the student types on the keyboard.

What can young people do next?

Use Unity to create a 3D world

Unity is a free development environment for creating 3D virtual environments, including games, visual novels, and animations, all with the text-based programming language C#. Our ‘Introduction to Unity’ project path for keen coders shows how to make 3D worlds and games with collectibles, timers, and non-player characters.

Take part in Coolest Projects Global

At the end of the ‘More Python’ path, learners are encouraged to register a project they’ve made using their new coding skills for Coolest Projects Global, our free and world-leading online technology showcase for young tech creators. The project they register will become part of the online gallery, where members of the Coolest Projects community can celebrate each other’s creations.

A young coder shows off her tech project for Coolest Projects to two other young tech creators.

We welcome projects from all young people, whether they are beginners or experienced coders and digital makers. Coolest Projects Global is a unique opportunity for young people to share their ingenuity with the world and with other young people who love coding and creating with digital technology.

Details about the projects in ‘More Python’
The ‘More Python’ path is structured according to our Digital Making Framework, with three Explore project, two Design projects, and a final Invent project.

Explore project 1: Charting champions

Illustration of a fast-moving, smiling robot wearing a champion's rosette.
In this Explore project, learners discover the power of lists in Python by creating an interactive chart of Olympic medals. They learn how to read data from a text file and then present that data as a bar chart.

Explore project 2: Solar system

Illustration of our solar system.
In this Explore project, learners create a simulation of the solar system. They revisit the drawing and animation skills that they learned in the ‘Introduction to Python’ project path to produce animated planets orbiting the sun. The animation is based on real data taken from a data file to simulate the speed that the planets move at as they orbit. The simulation is also interactive, using dictionaries to display data about the planets that have been selected.

Explore project 3: Codebreaker

Illustration of a person thinking about codebreaking.
The final Explore project gets learners to build on their knowledge of lists and dictionaries by creating a program that encodes and decodes a message using an Atbash cipher. The Atbash cipher was originally developed in the Hebrew language. It takes the alphabet and matches it to its reverse order to create a secret message. They also create a script that checks how many times certain letters have been used in an encoded message, so that they can discover patterns.

Design project 1: Encoded art

Illustration of a robot painting a portrait of another robot.
The first Design project allows learners to create fun pieces of artwork by encoding the letters of their name into images, patterns, or drawings. Learners can choose the images that will be produced for each letter, and whether these appear at random or in a geometric pattern.
Learners are encouraged to share their encoded artwork in the community library, where there are lots of fun projects to discover already. In this project, learners apply all of the coding skills and knowledge covered in the Explore projects, including working with dictionaries and lists.

Design project 2: Mapping data

Illustration of a map and a hand of someone marking it with a large pin.
In the next Design project, learners access data from a data file and use it to create location pins on a world map. They have six datasets to choose from, so they can use one that interests them. They can also choose from a variety of maps and design their own pin to truly personalise their projects.

Invent project: Persuasive data presentation

Illustration of different graph types
This project is designed to use all of the skills and knowledge covered in this path, and most of the skills from the ‘Introduction to Python’ path. Learners can choose from eight datasets to create data visualisations. They are also given instructions on how to access and prepare other datasets if they want to visualise data about a different topic.
Once learners have chosen their dataset, they can decide how they want it to be displayed. This could be a chart, a map with pins, or a unique data visualisation. There are lots of example projects to provide inspiration for learners. One of our favourites is the ISS Expedition project, which places flags on the ISS depending on the expedition number you enter.

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Three new reasons to register for Coolest Projects Global 2022 https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/coolest-projects-global-2022-feedback-swag-medals/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/coolest-projects-global-2022-feedback-swag-medals/#respond Thu, 07 Apr 2022 08:57:24 +0000 https://www.raspberrypi.org/?p=79050 Over the last ten years, thousands of young people from all over the world have shared their digital creations at a Coolest Projects event. This year, there are a few brand-new and exciting reasons why young people will want to get involved in Coolest Projects Global online tech showcase and share their tech creations in…

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Over the last ten years, thousands of young people from all over the world have shared their digital creations at a Coolest Projects event. This year, there are a few brand-new and exciting reasons why young people will want to get involved in Coolest Projects Global online tech showcase and share their tech creations in the online gallery, for the worldwide Coolest Projects community to discover them.

Two teenage girls participating in Coolest Projects shows off their tech project.

Not only will each Coolest Projects Global participant get unique feedback on their project, they’ll also receive a cool piece of limited-edition Coolest Projects swag. And young tech creators have a shot at winning a coveted Coolest Projects medal if their creation is selected as a judges’ favourite. We’ve added all of these new enhancements thanks to the thoughtful feedback we’ve received from participants in previous showcases.

White text on blue background saying New in 2022.

1. Personalised project feedback

Young people who’ve showcased at an in-person Coolest Projects event know how great it is to see how other people react to their project. This year, creators participating in our online showcase will automatically get reactions and feedback from our Coolest Projects staff and partners who are reviewing projects.

A Coolest Projects participant

That means each creator will find out what’s great about their project and how they might be able to improve it. All of this feedback will be shown in the creator’s online account on coolestprojects.org after the celebratory livestream in June.

2. Limited-edition Coolest Projects art

All young creators will also get limited-edition swag: a Coolest Projects poster designed by New York City-based artist Joey Rex. Creators can proudly display this memento of their participation in Coolest Projects Global 2022 on their bedroom wall, and as a digital phone or computer screen background.

An illustration of two young tech creators working on digital projects in a room filled with devices, gadgets, and tools.
The limited-edition Coolest Projects poster designed by Joey Rex.

The poster design was inspired by all the young makers who have participated in Coolest Projects over the last 10 years. It evokes themes of collaboration, invention, and creativity. Here’s what Joey, the artist, had to say about the design:

“This project was really exciting for me to work on, since I love geeking out over tech and building custom electronics, and I’m really grateful to the Coolest Projects team for trusting me with this vision. I hope my design can inspire the creators to keep up the great work and continue bringing their awesome ideas to reality!”

Artist Joey Rex

To claim their printed poster and backgrounds for their digital devices, creators will receive a link via email after the celebratory livestream in June.

3. Custom Coolest Projects medals

And behold, your first look at the Coolest Projects medal:

A Coolest Projects medal.

As you may already know, VIP judges select their favourite projects in each project category. Creators of projects that are selected as favourites will receive this custom die-cast medal to commemorate their unique accomplishment. The medal hangs on a full color Coolest Projects ribbon and would be the coolest addition to any wall or trophy shelf.

Three young tech creators show off their tech project at Coolest Projects.

Creators who want to aim for a medal should keep in mind that judges’ favourite projects are selected based on their complexity, presentation, design, and of course their coolness. See the Coolest Projects FAQs for more information.

White text on blue background saying Get involved.

With all these new enhancements to Coolest Projects Global, there is a multitude of reasons for young tech creators to register a project for the online showcase.

To help young people get involved in Coolest Projects, we have planned two livestreamed codealong events on our YouTube channel:

During these livestreams, you’ll also learn about the new project topics we’ve introduced for the online gallery this year. We’ll especially explore the ‘environment’ topic, sponsored by our friends at EPAM and Liberty Global.

Be sure to sign up for email updates to always be the first to hear what’s new with Coolest Projects Globa;.

That’s all of our latest news. Until next time… be cool.

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Exploring cross-disciplinary computing education in our new seminar series https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/cross-disciplinary-computing-education-research-seminars/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/cross-disciplinary-computing-education-research-seminars/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2022 15:32:56 +0000 https://www.raspberrypi.org/?p=78998 We are delighted to launch our next series of free online seminars, this time on the topic of cross-disciplinary computing, running monthly from May to November 2022. As always, our seminars are for all researchers, educators, and anyone else interested in research related to computing education. Crossing disciplinary boundaries What do we mean by cross-disciplinary…

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We are delighted to launch our next series of free online seminars, this time on the topic of cross-disciplinary computing, running monthly from May to November 2022. As always, our seminars are for all researchers, educators, and anyone else interested in research related to computing education.

An educator helps two learners set up a Raspberry Pi computer.

Crossing disciplinary boundaries

What do we mean by cross-disciplinary computing? Through this upcoming seminar series, we want to embrace the intersections and interactions of computing with all aspects of learning and life, and think about how they can help us teach young people. The researchers we’ve invited as our speakers will help us shed light on cross-disciplinary areas of computing through the breadth of their presentations.

In a computing classroom, a girl looks at a computer screen.

At the Raspberry Pi Foundation our mission is to make computing accessible to all children and young people everywhere, and because computing and technology appear in all aspects of our and young people’s lives, in this series of seminars we will consider what computing education looks like in a multiplicity of environments.

Mark Guzdial on computing in history and mathematics

We start the new series on 3 May, and are beyond delighted to be kicking off with a talk from Mark Guzdial (University of Michigan). Mark has worked in computer science education for decades and won many awards for his research, including the prestigious ACM SIGCSE Outstanding Contribution to Computing Education award in 2019. Mark has written hundreds of papers about computer science education, and he authors an extremely popular computing education research blog that keeps us all up to date with what is going on in the field.

Mark Guzdial.

Recently, he has been researching the ways in which programming education can be integrated into other subjects, so he is a perfect speaker to start us thinking about our theme of cross-disciplinary computing. His talk will focus on how we can add a teaspoon of computing to history and mathematics classes.

Pratim Sengupta on countering technocentrism

On 7 June, our speaker will be Pratim Sengupta (University of Calgary), who I feel will really challenge us to think about programming and computing education in a new way. He has conducted studies in science classrooms and non-formal learning environments which focus on providing open and engaging experiences for the public to explore code, for example through the Voice your Celebration installation. Recently, he has co-authored a book called Voicing Code in STEM: A Dialogical Imagination (MIT Press, availabe open access).

Pratim Sengupta.

In Pratim’s talk, he will share his thoughts about the ways that more of us can become involved with code through opening up its richness and depth to a wider public audience, and he will introduce us to his ideas about countering technocentrism, a key focus of his new book. I’m so looking forward to being challenged by this talk.

Yasmin Kafai on curriculum design with e-textiles

On 12 July, we will hear from Yasmin Kafai (University of Pennsylvania), who is another legend in computing education in my eyes. Yasmin started her long career in computing education with Seymour Papert, internationally known for his work on Logo and on constructionism as a theoretical lens for understanding the way we learn computing. Yasmin was part of the team that created Scratch, and for many years now has been working on projects revolving around digital making, electronic textiles, and computational participation.

Yasmin Kafai.

In Yasmin’s talk she will present, alongside a panel of teachers she’s been collaborating with, some of their work to develop a high school curriculum that uses electronic textiles to introduce students to computer science. This promises to be a really engaging and interactive seminar.

Genevieve Smith-Nunes on exploring data ethics

In August we will take a holiday, to return on 6 September to hear from the inspirational Genevieve Smith-Nunes (University of Cambridge), whose research is focused on dance and computing, in particular data-driven dance. Her work helps us to focus on the possibilities of creative computing, but also to think about the ethics of applications that involve vast amounts of data.

Genevieve Smith-Nunes.

Genevieve’s talk will prompt us to think about some really important questions: Is there a difference in sense of self (identity) between the human and the virtual? How does sharing your personal biometric data make you feel? How can biometric and immersive development tools be used in the computing classroom to raise awareness of data ethics? Impossible to miss!

Update: Seminars in October and November

  • On 4 October, Conrad Wolfram (Wolfram Research) will give a talk on computational literacy in mathematics
  • On 8 November, Tracy Gardner and Rebecca Franks (Raspberry Pi Foundation) will present about computing education in non-formal settings

Sign up now to attend the seminars

Do enter all these dates in your diary so you don’t miss out on participating — we are very excited about this series. Sign up below, and ahead of every seminar, we will send you the information for joining.

As usual, the seminars will take place online on a Tuesday at 17:00 to 18:30 local UK time.

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