Engaging Black students in computing at UK schools — interview with Joe Arday

Joe Arday.

On the occasion of Black History Month UK, we speak to Joe Arday, Computer Science teacher at Woodbridge High School in Essex, UK, about his experiences in computing education, his thoughts about underrepresentation of Black students in the subject, and his ideas about what needs to be done to engage more Black students.

To start us off, can you share some of your thoughts about Black History Month as an occasion?

For me personally it’s an opportunity to celebrate our culture, but my view is it shouldn’t be a month — it should be celebrated every day. I am of Ghanaian descent, so Black History Month is an opportunity to share my culture in my school and my community. Black History Month is also an opportunity to educate yourself about what happened to the generations before you. For example, my parents lived through the Brixton riots. I was born in 1984, and I got to secondary school before I heard about the Brixton riots from a teacher. But my mother made sure that, during Black History Month, we went to a lot of extracurricular activities to learn about our culture.

For me it’s about embracing the culture I come from, being proud to be Black, and sharing that culture with the next generation, including my two kids, who are of mixed heritage. They need to know where they come from, and know their two cultures.

Tell us a bit about your own history: how did you come to computing education?

So I was a tech professional in the finance sector, and I was made redundant when the 2008 recession hit. I did a couple of consulting jobs, but I thought to myself, “I love tech, but in five years from now, do I really want to be going from job to job? There must be something else I can do.”

At that time there was a huge drive to recruit more teachers to teach what was called ICT back then and is now Computing. As a result, I started my career as a teacher in 2010. As a former software consultant, I had useful skills for teaching ICT. When Computing was introduced instead, I was fortunate to be at a school that could bring in external CPD (continued professional development) providers to teach us about programming and build our understanding and skills to deliver the new curriculum. I also did a lot of self-study and spoke to lots of teachers at other schools about how to teach the subject.

What barriers or support did you encounter in your teaching career? Did you have role models when you went into teaching?

Not really — I had to seek them out. In my environment, there are very few Black teachers, and I was often the only Black Computer Science teacher. A parent once said to me, “I hope you’re not planning to leave, because my son needs a role model in Computer Science.” And I understood exactly what she meant by that, but I’m not even a role model, I’m just someone who’s contributing to society the best way I can. I just want to pave the way for the next generation, including my children.

My current school is supporting me to lead all the STEM engagement for students, and in that role, some of the things I do are running a STEM club that focuses a lot on computing, and running new programmes to encourage girls into tech roles. I’ve also become a CAS Master Teacher and been part of a careers panel at Queen Mary University London about the tech sector, for hundreds of school students from across London. And I was selected by the National Centre for Computing Education as one of their facilitators in the Computer Science Accelerator CPD programme.

But there’s been a lack of leadership opportunities for me in schools. I’ve applied for middle-leadership roles and have been told my face doesn’t fit in an interview in a previous school. And I’m just as skilled and experienced as other candidates: I’ve been acting Head of Department, acting Head of Year — what more do I need to do? But I’ve not had access to middle-leadership roles. I’ve been told I’m an average teacher, but then I’ve been put onto dealing with “difficult” students if they’re Black, because a few of my previous schools have told me that I was “good at dealing with behaviour”. So that tells you about the role I was pigeonholed into.

It is very important for Black students to have role models, and to have a curriculum that reflects them.

Joe Arday

I’ve never worked for a Black Headteacher, and the proportion of Black teachers in senior leadership positions is very low, only 1%. So I am considering moving into a different area of computing education, such as edtech or academia, because in schools I don’t have the opportunities to progress because of my ethnicity.

Do you think this lack of leadership opportunities is an experience other Black teachers share?

I think it is, that’s why the number of Black teachers is so low. And as a Black student of Computer Science considering a teaching role, I would look around my school and think, if I go into teaching, where are the opportunities going to come from?

Black students are underrepresented in computing. Could you share your thoughts about why that’s the case?

There’s a lack of role models across the board: in schools, but also in tech leadership roles, CEOs and company directors. And the interest of Black students isn’t fostered early on, in Year 8, Year 9 (ages 12–14). If they don’t have a teacher who is able to take them to career fairs or to tech companies, they’re not going to get exposure, they’re not going to think, “Oh, I can see myself doing that.” So unless they have a lot of interest already, they’re not going to pick Computer Science when it comes to choosing their GCSEs, because it doesn’t look like it’s for them.

But we need diverse people in computing and STEM, especially girls. As the father of a boy and a girl of mixed heritage, that’s very important to me. Some schools I’ve worked in, they pushed computer science into the background, and it’s such a shame. They don’t have the money or the time for their teachers to do the CPD to teach it properly. And if attitudes at the top are negative, that’s going to filter down. But even if students don’t go into the tech industry, they still need digital skills to go into any number of sectors. Every young person needs them.

It is very important for Black students to have role models, and to have a curriculum that reflects them. Students need to see themselves in their lessons and not feel ignored by what is being taught. I was very fortunate to be selected for the working group for the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s culturally relevant teaching guidelines, and I’m currently running some CPD for teachers around this. I bet in the future Ofsted will look at how diverse the curriculum of schools is.

What do you think tech organisations can do in order to engage more Black students in computing?

I think tech organisations need to work with schools and offer work experience placements. When I was a student, 20 years ago, I went on a placement, and that set me on the right path. Nowadays, many students don’t do work experience, they are school leavers before they do an internship. So why do so many schools and organisations not help 14- or 15-year-olds spend a week or two doing a placement and learning some real-life skills?

A mentor explains Scratch code using a projector in a coding club session.

And I think it’s very important for teachers to be able to keep up to date with the latest technologies so they can support their students with what they need to know when they start their own careers, and can be convincing doing it. I encourage my GCSE Computer Science students to learn about things like cloud computing and cybersecurity, about the newest types of technologies that are being used in the tech sector now. That way they’re preparing themselves. And if I was a Headteacher, I would help my students gain professional certifications that they can use when they apply for jobs.

What is a key thing that people in computing education can do to engage more Black students?

Teachers could run a STEM or computing club with a Black History Month theme to get Black students interested — and it doesn’t have to stop at Black History Month. And you can make computing cross-curricular, so there could be a project with all teachers, where each one runs a lesson that involves a bit of coding, so that all students can see that computing really is for everyone.

What would you say to teachers to encourage them to take up Computer Science as a subject?

Because of my role working for the NCCE, I always encourage teachers to join the NCCE’s Computer Science Accelerator programme and to retrain to teach Computer Science. It’s a beautiful subject, all you need to do is give it a chance.

Thank you, Joe, for sharing your thoughts with us!

Joe was part of the group of teachers we worked with to create our practical guide on culturally relevant teaching in the computing classroom. You can download it as a free PDF now to help you think about how to reflect all your students in your lessons.

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Celebrate CoderDojo’s 10th birthday with us!

We are inviting you all to a very special event this week: the CoderDojo team is hosting a 10th birthday livestream to celebrate the CoderDojo community and all that they have achieved over the last ten years.

Everyone is welcome, so mark your diary and make sure you and your favourite young coders join us for all the fun at 18:00 BST this Thursday, 28 October

Together we will hear stories from young people and volunteers around the world, and from James Whelton and Bill Liao, the co-founders of CoderDojo.

Ten years of community spirit

In July 2011, James Whelton and Bill Liao held the first-ever CoderDojo session in Cork, Ireland. They created a space for young people to learn how to create a website, design a game, or write their first program. The session was also a chance for volunteers to share their experience and time with a younger generation and their peers. It was here that the CoderDojo grassroots community came into existence, built on the values of ‘being cool’: creativity, collaboration, openness, and fun.

A Dojo session in Ireland.

These values continue to inspire young people (Ninjas) and volunteers around the world to be part of their local Dojos. In 2017, the CoderDojo Foundation, which was founded to support the CoderDojo movement, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation joined forces to better support the community to bring opportunities to more young people worldwide.

A man helps four young people to code projects at laptops in a CoderDojo session.
A Dojo session in Uganda.

The tenth year of the movement is an especially important time for us to celebrate the volunteers who have put so much into CoderDojo. As well as the livestream celebration on 28 October, the CoderDojo team has put together free digital assets to get volunteers and Ninjas in the birthday spirit, and a special birthday giveaway for Ninjas who are coding projects to mark this momentous anniversary.

Three young people learn coding at laptops supported by a volunteer at a CoderDojo session.
A CoderDojo session in India.

Ten things we love about you

In celebration of the CoderDojo movement’s 10th birthday, here’s a list of some of our favourite things about the CoderDojo community.  

1. You are always having so much fun!

Whether you’re working together in person or online, you are always having a blast!

2. You are resilient and committed to your club 

The pandemic has been an extremely difficult time for Dojos. It has also been a time of adaptation. We have been so impressed by how community members have switched their ways of running with positivity and commitment to 6. do what is best for their clubs.

A tweet about CoderDojo.

3. You support each other

Every day, Dojo volunteers support each other locally and globally to sustain the movement and help Ninjas learn — from sharing how they run sessions when social distancing is necessary, to translating online resources and web pages so that more people around the world can join the CoderDojo community.

“We know that we’re not out there alone, that there’s a whole world of people who are all collaborating with the same mission in mind is really thrilling as well.”

Nikole Vaughn, CoderDojo Collaborative in San Antonio, Texas

4. You tell the team how to support you 

Filling in surveys, emailing the CoderDojo team here, attending webinars, sharing your insights — these are all the ways you’re great at communicating your Dojo’s needs. We love supporting you!

5. You help young people create positive change in their community 

We love to hear about how CoderDojo volunteers help young people to create and learn with technology, and to become mentors for their peers. Recently we shared the stories of Avye, Laura, and Toshan, three incredible digital makers who, thanks to CoderDojo, are using technology to shape the world around them.

Laura, teenage roboticist and CoderDojo Ninja, with and-Catherine Grace Coleman.
Laura says, “I joined my local CoderDojo, and it changed my life.”

6. You love a challenge

From coding for the CoderDojo 10th birthday giveaway to the European Astro Pi Challenge, CoderDojo members love to put themselves to the test!   

7. You brought Coolest Projects into the world 

Coolest Projects is the world-leading technology fair for young people, and it originated in the CoderDojo community!

The crowd at a Coolest Projects event.

This year, in its ninth year running, Coolest Projects again was a platform for fantastic tech projects from Ninjas, including an AI bicycle app and a glove that makes music.

8. You are committed to creating inclusive spaces 

CoderDojo is a space for everyone to create and learn with technology. We love that Dojos get involved in projects such as the ‘Empowering the future’ guide to getting more girls involved in coding, and the CoderDojo Accessibility Guide to making Dojo sessions accessible for young people of all abilities and neurodiversity.

A tweet about CoderDojo.

9. You are a community that continues to grow stronger

Over the last ten years, more than 3900 Dojos in 115 countries have run sessions for over 270000 young people and have been regularly supporting 100000 young coders! You’ve certainly brought the movement a long way from that very first session in Cork.   

10. You are simply the best grassroots community on the planet! 

All the volunteers who have put their time and energy into CoderDojo have made the movement what it is today, and we’d like to say a massive thank you to each and every one of you.

A clip of David Bowie pointing at the viewer and saying 'you', with overlayed text 'you're the best'.

Let’s celebrate together! 

So prepare your favourite celebratory food and join us for the birthday livestream on Thursday 28 October at 18:00 BST! Take this chance to say hi to community members and celebrate everything that they have achieved in the last ten years.

Set a reminder for the livestream, and tell us how you are celebrating CoderDojo’s 10th birthday using the hashtag #10YearsOfCoderDojo on Twitter. 

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Hello World’s first-ever special edition is here!

Hello World, our free magazine for computing and digital making educators, has just published its very first special edition: The Big Book of Computing Pedagogy!

“When I started to peruse the draft for The Big Book of Computing Pedagogy, I was simply stunned.”

Monica McGill, founder & CEO of CSEDResearch.org

Cover of The Big Book of Computing Pedagogy.

This special edition focuses on practical approaches to teaching computing in the classroom, and includes some of our favourite pedagogically themed articles from previous issues of Hello World, as well as a few never-seen-before pieces. It is structured around twelve pedagogical principles, first developed by us as part of our work related to the National Centre for Computing Education in England. These twelve principles are based on up-to-date research around the best ways of approaching the teaching and learning of computing.

A girl doing a physical computing project with Raspberry Pi hardware.

Grounded in research and practice

Computing education is still relatively new, and it’s a field that’s constantly changing and adapting. Despite leaving school less than ten years ago, I remember my days in the computer lab being limited to learning about how to add animations on PowerPoints and trying out basic Excel formulas (and yes, there was still the odd mouse with a ball knocking about!).

A tweet praising The Big Book of Computing Pedagogy.
The Big Book of Computing Pedagogy — a big hit with educators!

Computing education research is even younger, and we are proud to be an important part of this growing space. As an organisation, we engage in rigorous original research around computing education and learning for young people, and we share all of our research work through blogs, reports, research seminars, and academic publications. We’re particularly proud to have partnered with the University of Cambridge to establish the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre

12 principles of computing pedagogy: lead with concepts; structure lessons; make concrete; unplug, unpack, repack; work together; read and explore code first; foster program comprehension; model everything; challenge misconceptions; create projects; get hands-on; add variety.
Our special edition of Hello World is organised around twelve pedagogical principles.

The Big Book of Computing Pedagogy represents another way in which we bring research and practice to computing educators in an accessible and engaging way. The book aims to be an educator’s companion to learning about tried and tested approaches to teaching computing.

A tweet praising The Big Book of Computing Pedagogy.
The perfect morning read for computing educators.

It includes articles on techniques for fostering program comprehension, advice for bringing physical computing to your classroom, and introductions to frameworks for structuring your computing lessons. As with all Hello World content, we’re bridging the gap between research and practice by giving you accessible chunks of research, followed by stories of trusty educators who have tried out the approaches in their classroom or educational space.

A tweet praising The Big Book of Computing Pedagogy.
Teachers are jumping for joy at this special edition.

Monica McGill, founder and CEO of CSEDResearch.org, says about Hello World’s latest offering, “When I started to peruse the draft for The Big Book of Computing Pedagogy, I was simply stunned. I found the ready-to-consume content to be solidly based on research evidence and tried-and-true best practices from teachers themselves. This resource provides valuable insights into introducing computing to students via unplugged activities, integrating the Predict–Run–Investigate–Modify–Make (PRIMM) pedagogical model, and introducing physical devices for computing — all written in a way that teachers can adopt and use in their own classrooms.”

We’ve been thrilled to see the reaction of educators to this special edition, with many teachers already using it as a reference guide and for a spot of CPD. Why not join them and download it for free today?

Subscribe now to get each new Hello World — whether regular issue or special edition — straight to your digital inbox, for free! And if you’re based in the UK and do paid or unpaid work in education, you can subscribe for free print issues.

PS Have you listened to our Hello World podcast yet? A new episode has just come out, and it’s great! Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

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Take part in the UK Bebras Challenge 2021 for schools!

The annual UK Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge is back to provide fun, brain-teasing puzzles for schools from 8 to 19 November!

The UK Bebras Challenge 2021 runs from 8 to 19 November.

In the free Bebras Challenge, your students get to practise their computational thinking skills while solving a set of accessible, puzzling, and engaging tasks over 40 minutes. It’s tailored for age groups from 6 to 18.

“I just want to say how much the children are enjoying this competition. It is the first year we have entered, and I have students aged 8 to 11 participating in my Computing lessons, with some of our older students also taking on the challenges. It is really helping to challenge their thinking, and they are showing great determination to try and complete each task!”

– A UK-based teacher

Ten key facts about Bebras

  1. It’s free!
  2. The challenge takes place in school, and it’s a great whole-school activity
  3. It’s open to learners aged 6 to 18, with activities for different age groups
  4. The challenge is made up of a set of short tasks, and completing it takes 40 minutes
  5. The closing date for registering your school is 4 November
  6. Your learners need to complete the challenge between 8 and 19 November 2021
  7. All the marking is done for you (hurrah!)
  8. You’ll receive the results and answers the week after the challenge ends, so you can go through them with your learners and help them learn more
  9. The tasks are logical thinking puzzles, so taking part does not require any computing knowledge
  10. There are practice questions you can use to help your learners prepare for the challenge, and throughout the year to help them practice their computational thinking

Do you want to support your learners to take on the Bebras Challenge? Then register your school today!

Remember to sign up by 4 November!

The benefits of Bebras

Bebras is an international challenge that started in Lithuania in 2004 and has grown into a worldwide event. The UK became involved in Bebras for the first time in 2013, and the number of participating students has increased from 21,000 in the first year to more than half a million over the last two years! Internationally, nearly 2.5 million learners took part in 2020 despite the disruptions to schools.

On the left, a drawing of a bracelet made of stars and moons.
On the left, a bracelet design from an activity for ages 10–12. On the right, a password checker from an activity for ages 14–16.

Bebras, brought to you in the UK by us and Oxford University, is a great way to give your learners of all age groups a taste of the principles behind computing by engaging them in fun problem-solving activities. The challenge results highlight computing principles, so Bebras can be educational for you as a teacher too.

Throughout the year, questions from previous years of the challenge are available to registered teachers on the bebras.uk website, where you can create self-marking quizzes to help you deliver the computational thinking part of the curriculum for your classes.

You can register your school at bebras.uk/admin.

Learn more about our work to support learners with computational thinking.

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Learn the fundamentals of AI and machine learning with our free online course

Join our free online course Introduction to Machine Learning and AI to discover the fundamentals of machine learning and learn to train your own machine learning models using free online tools.

Drawing of a machine learning robot helping a human identify spam at a computer.

Although artificial intelligence (AI) was once the province of science fiction, these days you’re very likely to hear the term in relation to new technologies, whether that’s facial recognition, medical diagnostic tools, or self-driving cars, which use AI systems to make decisions or predictions.

By the end of this free online course, you will have an appreciation for what goes into machine learning and artificial intelligence systems — and why you should think carefully about what comes out.

Machine learning — a brief overview

You’ll also often hear about AI systems that use machine learning (ML). Very simply, we can say that programs created using ML are ‘trained’ on large collections of data to ‘learn’ to produce more accurate outputs over time. One rather funny application you might have heard of is the ‘muffin or chihuahua?’ image recognition task.

Drawing of a machine learning ars rover trying to decide whether it is seeing an alien or a rock.

More precisely, we would say that a ML algorithm builds a model, based on large collections of data (the training data), without being explicitly programmed to do so. The model is ‘finished’ when it makes predictions or decisions with an acceptable level of accuracy. (For example, it rarely mistakes a muffin for a chihuahua in a photo.) It is then considered to be able to make predictions or decisions using new data in the real world.

It’s important to understand AI and ML — especially for educators

But how does all this actually work? If you don’t know, it’s hard to judge what the impacts of these technologies might be, and how we can be sure they benefit everyone — an important discussion that needs to involve people from across all of society. Not knowing can also be a barrier to using AI, whether that’s for a hobby, as part of your job, or to help your community solve a problem.

some things that machine learning and AI systems can be built into: streetlamps, waste collecting vehicles, cars, traffic lights.

For teachers and educators it’s particularly important to have a good foundational knowledge of AI and ML, as they need to teach their learners what the young people need to know about these technologies and how they impact their lives. (We’ve also got a free seminar series about teaching these topics.)

To help you understand the fundamentals of AI and ML, we’ve put together a free online course: Introduction to Machine Learning and AI. Over four weeks in two hours per week, you’ll learn how machine learning can be used to solve problems, without going too deeply into the mathematical details. You’ll also get to grips with the different ways that machines ‘learn’, and you will try out online tools such as Machine Learning for Kids and Teachable Machine to design and train your own machine learning programs.

What types of problems and tasks are AI systems used for?

As well as finding out how these AI systems work, you’ll look at the different types of tasks that they can help us address. One of these is classification — working out which group (or groups) something fits in, such as distinguishing between positive and negative product reviews, identifying an animal (or a muffin) in an image, or spotting potential medical problems in patient data.

You’ll also learn about other types of tasks ML programs are used for, such as regression (predicting a numerical value from a continuous range) and knowledge organisation (spotting links between different pieces of data or clusters of similar data). Towards the end of the course you’ll dive into one of the hottest topics in AI today: neural networks, which are ML models whose design is inspired by networks of brain cells (neurons).

drawing of a small machine learning neural network.

Before an ML program can be trained, you need to collect data to train it with. During the course you’ll see how tools from statistics and data science are important for ML — but also how ethical issues can arise both when data is collected and when the outputs of an ML program are used.

By the end of the course, you will have an appreciation for what goes into machine learning and artificial intelligence systems — and why you should think carefully about what comes out.

Sign up to the course today, for free

The Introduction to Machine Learning and AI course is open for you to sign up to now. Sign-ups will pause after 12 December. Once you sign up, you’ll have access for six weeks. During this time you’ll be able to interact with your fellow learners, and before 25 October, you’ll also benefit from the support of our expert facilitators. So what are you waiting for?

Share your views as part of our research

As part of our research on computing education, we would like to find out about educators’ views on machine learning. Before you start the course, we will ask you to complete a short survey. As a thank you for helping us with our research, you will be offered the chance to take part in a prize draw for a £50 book token!

Learn more about AI, its impacts, and teaching learners about them

To develop your computing knowledge and skills, you might also want to:

If you are a teacher in England, you can develop your teaching skills through the National Centre for Computing Education, which will give you free upgrades for our courses (including Introduction to Machine Learning and AI) so you’ll receive certificates and unlimited access.

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Should we teach AI and ML differently to other areas of computer science? A challenge

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

In the second seminar of the series, we were excited to hear from Professor Carsten Schulte, Yannik Fleischer, and Lukas Höper from the University of Paderborn, Germany, who presented on the topic of teaching AI and machine learning (ML) from a data-centric perspective. Their talk raised the question of whether and how AI and ML should be taught differently from other themes in the computer science curriculum at school.

Machine behaviour — a new field of study?

The rationale behind the speakers’ work is a concept they call hybrid interaction system, referring to the way that humans and machines interact. To explain this concept, Carsten referred to an 2019 article published in Nature by Iyad Rahwan and colleagues: Machine hehaviour. The article’s authors propose that the study of AI agents (complex and simple algorithms that make decisions) should be a separate, cross-disciplinary field of study, because of the ubiquity and complexity of AI systems, and because these systems can have both beneficial and detrimental impacts on humanity, which can be difficult to evaluate. (Our previous seminar by Mhairi Aitken highlighted some of these impacts.) The authors state that to study this field, we need to draw on scientific practices from across different fields, as shown below:

Machine behaviour as a field sits at the intersection of AI engineering and behavioural science. Quantitative evidence from machine behaviour studies feeds into the study of the impact of technology, which in turn feeds questions and practices into engineering and behavioural science.
The interdisciplinarity of machine behaviour. (Image taken from Rahwan et al [1])

In establishing their argument, the authors compare the study of animal behaviour and machine behaviour, citing that both fields consider aspects such as mechanism, development, evolution and function. They describe how part of this proposed machine behaviour field may focus on studying individual machines’ behaviour, while collective machines and what they call ‘hybrid human-machine behaviour’ can also be studied. By focusing on the complexities of the interactions between machines and humans, we can think both about machines shaping human behaviour and humans shaping machine behaviour, and a sort of ‘co-behaviour’ as they work together. Thus, the authors conclude that machine behaviour is an interdisciplinary area that we should study in a different way to computer science.

Carsten and his team said that, as educators, we will need to draw on the parameters and frameworks of this machine behaviour field to be able to effectively teach AI and machine learning in school. They argue that our approach should be centred on data, rather than on code. I believe this is a challenge to those of us developing tools and resources to support young people, and that we should be open to these ideas as we forge ahead in our work in this area.

Ideas or artefacts?

In the interpretation of computational thinking popularised in 2006 by Jeanette Wing, she introduces computational thinking as being about ‘ideas, not artefacts’. When we, the computing education community, started to think about computational thinking, we moved from focusing on specific technology — and how to understand and use it — to the ideas or principles underlying the domain. The challenge now is: have we gone too far in that direction?

Carsten argued that, if we are to understand machine behaviour, and in particular, human-machine co-behaviour, which he refers to as the hybrid interaction system, then we need to be studying   artefacts as well as ideas.

Throughout the seminar, the speakers reminded us to keep in mind artefacts, issues of bias, the role of data, and potential implications for the way we teach.

Studying machine learning: a different focus

In addition, Carsten highlighted a number of differences between learning ML and learning other areas of computer science, including traditional programming:

  1. The process of problem-solving is different. Traditionally, we might try to understand the problem, derive a solution in terms of an algorithm, then understand the solution. In ML, the data shapes the model, and we do not need a deep understanding of either the problem or the solution.
  2. Our tolerance of inaccuracy is different. Traditionally, we teach young people to design programs that lead to an accurate solution. However, the nature of ML means that there will be an error rate, which we strive to minimise. 
  3. The role of code is different. Rather than the code doing the work as in traditional programming, the code is only a small part of a real-world ML system. 

These differences imply that our teaching should adapt too.

A graphic demonstrating that in machine learning as compared to other areas of computer science, the process of problem-solving, tolerance of inaccuracy, and role of code is different.
Click to enlarge.

ProDaBi: a programme for teaching AI, data science, and ML in secondary school

In Germany, education is devolved to state governments. Although computer science (known as informatics) was only last year introduced as a mandatory subject in lower secondary schools in North Rhine-Westphalia, where Paderborn is located, it has been taught at the upper secondary levels for many years. ProDaBi is a project that researchers have been running at Paderborn University since 2017, with the aim of developing a secondary school curriculum around data science, AI, and ML.

The ProDaBi curriculum includes:

  • Two modules for 11- to 12-year-olds covering decision trees and data awareness (ethical aspects), introduced this year
  • A short course for 13-year-olds covering aspects of artificial intelligence, through the game Hexapawn
  • A set of modules for 14- to 15-year-olds, covering data science, data exploration, decision trees, neural networks, and data awareness (ethical aspects), using Jupyter notebooks
  • A project-based course for 18-year-olds, including the above topics at a more advanced level, using Codap and Jupyter notebooks to develop practical skills through projects; this course has been running the longest and is currently in its fourth iteration

Although the ProDaBi project site is in German, an English translation is available.

Learning modules developed as part of the ProDaBi project.
Modules developed as part of the ProDaBi project

Our speakers described example activities from three of the modules:

  • Hexapawn, a two-player game inspired by the work of Donald Michie in 1961. The purpose of this activity is to support learners in reflecting on the way the machine learns. Children can then relate the activity to the behavior of AI agents such as autonomous cars. An English version of the activity is available. 
  • Data cards, a series of activities to teach about decision trees. The cards are designed in a ‘Top Trumps’ style, and based on food items, with unplugged and digital elements. 
  • Data awareness, a module focusing on the amount of data an individual can generate as they move through a city, in this case through the mobile phone network. Children are encouraged to reflect on personal data in the context of the interaction between the human and data-driven artefact, and how their view of the world influences their interpretation of the data that they are given.

Questioning how we should teach AI and ML at school

There was a lot to digest in this seminar: challenging ideas and some new concepts, for me anyway. An important takeaway for me was how much we do not yet know about the concepts and skills we should be teaching in school around AI and ML, and about the approaches that we should be using to teach them effectively. Research such as that being carried out in Paderborn, demonstrating a data-centric approach, can really augment our understanding, and I’m looking forward to following the work of Carsten and his team.

Carsten and colleagues ended with this summary and discussion point for the audience:

“‘AI education’ requires developing an adequate picture of the hybrid interaction system — a kind of data-driven, emergent ecosystem which needs to be made explicitly to understand the transformative role as well as the technological basics of these artificial intelligence tools and how they are related to data science.”

You can catch up on the seminar, including the Q&A with Carsten and his colleagues, here:

Join our next seminar

This seminar really extended our thinking about AI education, and we look forward to introducing new perspectives from different researchers each month. At our next seminar on Tuesday 2 November at 17:00–18:30 BST / 12:00–13:30 EDT / 9:00–10:30 PDT / 18:00–19:30 CEST, we will welcome Professor Matti Tedre and Henriikka Vartiainen (University of Eastern Finland). The two Finnish researchers will talk about emerging trajectories in ML education for K-12. We look forward to meeting you there.

Carsten and their colleagues are also running a series of seminars on AI and data science: you can find out about these on their registration page.

You can increase your own understanding of machine learning by joining our latest free online course!


[1] Rahwan, I., Cebrian, M., Obradovich, N., Bongard, J., Bonnefon, J. F., Breazeal, C., … & Wellman, M. (2019). Machine behaviour. Nature, 568(7753), 477-486.

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Inspiring learners about computing through health and well-being projects | Hello World #17

Your brand-new issue of the free Hello World magazine for computing educators focuses on all things health and well-being, featuring useful tools for educators, great ideas for schools, and inspiring projects, ideas, and resources from teachers around the world!

Cover of issue 17 of Hello World.

One such project was created by the students of James Abela, Head of Computing at Garden International School in Kuala Lumpur, Raspberry Pi Certified Educator, founder of the South East Asian Computer Science Teachers Association, and author of The Gamified Classroom:

Protecting children from breathing hazardous air

In 2018, Indonesia burned approximately 529,000 hectares of land. That’s an area more than three times the size of Greater London, or almost the size of Brunei. With so much forest being burned, the whole region felt the effects of the pollution. Schools frequently had to ban outdoor play and PE lessons, and on some days schools were closed completely. Many schools in the region had an on-site CO2 detector to know when pollution was bad, but by the time the message could get out, children had already been breathing in the polluted air for several minutes.

A forest fire.
The air pollution from a forest fire gets dispersed by winds and can spread way beyond the area of the fire.

My Year 12 students (aged 16–17) followed the news and weather forecasts intently, and we all started to see how the winds from Singapore and Sumatra were sending pollution to us in Kuala Lumpur. We also realised that if we had measurements from around the city, we might have some visibility as to when pollution was likely to affect our school.

Making room for student-led projects

I’ve always encouraged my students to do their own projects, because it gives programming tasks meaning and creates something that they can be genuinely proud of. The other benefit is that it is something to talk about in university essays and interviews, especially as they often need to do extensive research to solve the problems central to their projects.

This project was […] a genuine passion project in every sense of the word.

James Abela

This project was much more than this: it was a genuine passion project in every sense of the word. Three of my students approached me with the idea of tracking CO2 to give schools a better idea of when there was pollution and which way it was going. They had had some experience of using Raspberry Pi computers, and knew that it was possible to use them to make weather stations, and that the latest versions had wireless LAN capability that they could use. I agreed to support them during allocated programming time, and to help them reach out to other schools.

Circuit design of the CO2 sensor using just Raspberry Pi, designed on circuito.io

I was able to offer students support with this project because I flip quite a lot of the theory in my class. Flipped learning is a teaching approach in which some direct instruction, for example reading articles or watching specific videos, is done at home. This enables more class time to be used to answer questions, work through higher-order tasks, or do group work, and it creates more supervised coding time.

I was able to offer students support with this project because I flip quite a lot of the theory in my class.

James Abela

I initially started doing this because when I set coding challenges for homework, I often had students who confessed they spent all night trying to solve it, only for me to glance at the code and notice a missing colon or indentation issue. I began flipping the less difficult theory for students to do as homework, to create more programming time in class where we could resolve issues more quickly. This then evolved into a system where students could work much more at their own pace and eventually led to a point at which older students could, in effect, learn through their own projects, such as the pollution monitor.

Building the pollution monitor

The students started by looking at existing weather station projects — for example, there is an excellent tutorial on the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s projects site. Students discovered that wind data is relatively easy to get over a larger area, but the key component would be something to measure CO2. […]

Check out issue 17 of Hello World to read the rest of James’s article and find out all the details about the hardware and software his students used for this passion project. He says:

This project really helped these students to decide whether they enjoyed the hardware side of computing, and solving real-world issues really encouraged them to see computing as a practical subject. This is a message that has really resonated with other students, and we’ve since doubled the number of students taking A level computer science.

James Abela

Download the new Hello World for free!

Issue 17 of Hello World is bursting with inspiring ideas for teaching your learners about computing in the context of health and well-being. And you’ll find lots more great content in its 100 pages!

James’s article is also a wonderful example of an educator empowering their students to build a tech project they care about. You’ll discover more insights and practical tips on making computing relevant to all your learners in the following articles of the new Hello World issue:

  • Inspiring Young People With Contexts They Care About
  • Computing for all: Designing a Culturally Relevant Curriculum
  • Going Back to Basics: Part 2 — a follow-on from issue 16 about how to take beginner digital makers through their first physical computing projects

Download the new issue of Hello World for free today:

If you’re an educator based in the UK, you can subscribe to receive each new issue in print completely free! And wherever you are in the world, don’t forget to listen to the Hello World podcast, where each episode we dive into a new topic from the magazine with some of the computing educators who’ve written for us.

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Engaging Black students in computing at school — interview with Lynda Chinaka

Lynda Chinaka.

On the occasion of Black History Month UK, we speak to Lynda Chinaka, Senior Lecturer in Computing in Education at the University of Roehampton, about her experiences in computing education, her thoughts about underrepresentation of Black students in the subject, and her ideas about what needs to be done to engage more Black students.

Lynda, to start us off, can you share your thoughts about Black History Month?

Black history is a really important topic, obviously, and I think that, when Black History Month was first introduced, it was very powerful — and it continues to be in certain places. But I think that, for where we are as a society, it’s time to move past talking about Black history for only one month of the year, albeit an important, focused celebration. And certainly that would include integrating Black history and Black figures across subjects in school. That would be a very useful way to celebrate the contributions that Black people have made, and continue to make, to society. Children need to be taught a history in which they are included and valued. Good history is always a matter of different perspectives. Too often in schools, children experience a single perspective.  

Please tell me a bit about your own history: how did you come to computing education as a field? What were the support or barriers you encountered?

In terms of my journey, I’ve always been passionate about Computing — formerly ICT. I’ve been a Computing subject lead in schools, moving on into senior management. Beyond my career in schools, I have worked as an ICT consultant and as a Teacher Leader for a London authority. During that time, my interest in Computing/ICT led me to undertake an MA in Computing in Education at King’s College London. This led me to become a teacher trainer in my current role. In some sense, I’m carrying on the work I did with the local authorities, but in a university setting. At the University of Roehampton, I teach computing to BA Primary Education and PGCE students. Training teachers is something that I’m very much interested in. It’s about engaging student teachers, supporting them in developing their understanding of Computing in the primary phases. Students learn about the principles of computing, related learning theories, and how children think and learn. Perhaps more importantly, I am keen to instil a love of the subject and broaden their notions about computing.

A teacher attending Picademy laughs as she works through an activity

In terms of the support I’ve received, I’ve worked in certain schools where Computing was really valued by the Headteacher, which enabled me to promote my vision for the subject. Supportive colleagues made a difference in their willingness take on new initiatives that I presented. I have been fortunate to work in local authorities that have been forward-thinking; one school became a test bed for Computing. So in that sense, schools have supported me. But as a Black person, a Black woman in particular, I would say that I faced barriers throughout my career. And those barriers have been there since childhood. In the Black community, people experience all sorts of things, and prejudice and barriers have been at play in my career.

Prejudice sometimes is very overt. An example I think I can share because it prevented me from getting a job: I went for an interview in a school. It was a very good interview, the Headteacher told me, “It was fantastic, you’re amazing, you’re excellent,” the problem was that there weren’t “enough Black pupils”, so she “didn’t see the need…”. And this is a discussion that was shared with me. Now in 2021 a Headteacher wouldn’t say that, but let’s just wind the clock back 15 years. These are the kinds of experiences that you go through as a Black teacher.

So what happens is, you tend to build up a certain resilience. People’s perceptions and low expectations of me have been a hindrance. This can be debilitating. You get tired of having to go through the same thing, of having to overcome negativity. Yes, I would say this has limited my progress. Obviously, I am speaking about my particular experiences as a Black woman, but I would say that these experiences are shared by many people like me.

An educator teaches students to create with technology.

But it’s my determination and the investment I’ve made that has resulted in me staying in the field. And a source of support for me is always Black colleagues, they understand the issues that are inherent within the profession. 

Black students are underrepresented in Computing as a subject. Drawing on your own work and experiences, could you share your thoughts about why that’s the case?

There need to be more Black teachers, because children need to see themselves represented in schools. As a Black teacher, I know that I have made a difference to Black children in my class who had a Black role model in front of them. When we talk about the poor performance of Black pupils, we need to be careful not to blame them for the failures of the education system. Policy makers, Headteachers, teachers, and practitioners need to be a lot more self-aware and examine the impact of racism in education. People need to examine their own policies and practice, especially people in positions of power.

A lot of collective work needs to be done.

Lynda Chinaka

Some local authorities do better than others, and some Headteachers I’ve worked with have been keen to build a diverse staff team. Black people are not well-represented at all in education. Headteachers need to be more proactive about their staff teams and recruitment. And they need to encourage Black teachers to go for jobs in senior management.

An educator helps a young person with a computing problem.

In all settings I taught in, no matter how many students of colour there were, these students would experience something in my classroom that their white counterparts had experienced all their lives: they would leave their home and come to school and be taught by someone who looks like them and perhaps speaks the same language as them. It’s enormously affirming for children to have that experience. And it’s important for all children actually, white children as well. Seeing a Black person teaching in the classroom, in a position of power or influence — it changes their mindset, and that ultimately changes perspectives.

So in terms of that route into Computing, Black students need to see themselves represented.

Why do you think it’s important to teach young people about Computing?

It’s absolutely vital to teach children about Computing. As adults, they are going to participate in a future that we know very little about, so I think it’s important that they’re taught computer science approaches, problem solving and computational thinking. So children need to be taught to be creators and not simply passive users of technology.

A Coolest Projects participant

One of the things some of my university students say is, “Oh my goodness, I can’t teach Computing, all the children know much more than me.”, but actually, that’s a little bit of a myth, I think. Children are better at using technologies than solving computing problems. They need to learn a range of computational approaches for solving problems. Computing is a life skill; it is the future. We saw during the pandemic the effects of digital inequity on pupils.

What do you think needs to change in computing education, the tech sector, or elsewhere in order to engage more Black students in Computing?

In education, we need to look at the curriculum and how to decolonise it to really engage young people. This also includes looking out for bias and prejudice in the things that are taught. Even when you’re thinking about specific computer science topics. So for example, the traditional example for algorithm design is making a cup of tea. But tea is a universal drink, it originates in China, and as a result of colonialism made its way to India and Kenya. So we drink tea universally, but the method (algorithm) for making tea doesn’t necessarily always include a china tea pot or a tea bag. There are lots of ways to introduce it, thinking about how it’s prepared in different cultures, say Kenya or the Punjab, and using that as a basis for developing children’s algorithmic thinking. This is culturally relevant. It’s about bringing the interests and experiences children have into the classroom.

Young women in a computing lesson.

For children to be engaged in Computing, there needs to be a payoff for them. For example, I’ve seen young people developing their own African emojis. They need to see a point to it! They don’t necessarily have to become computer scientists or software engineers, but Computing should be an avenue that opens for them because they can see it as something to further their own aims, their own causes. Young people are very socially and politically aware. For example, Black communities are very aware of the way that climate change affects the Global South and could use data science to highlight this. Many will have extended family living in these regions that are affected now.

So you don’t compromise on the quality of your teaching, and it require teachers to be more reflective. There is no quick fix. For example, you can’t just insert African masks into a lesson without exploring their meaning in real depth within the culture they originate from.

So in your Computing or Computer Science lessons, you need to include topics young people are interested in: climate change, discrimination, algorithms and algorithmic bias in software, surveillance and facial recognition. Social justice topics are close to their hearts. You can get them interested in AI and data science by talking about the off-the-shelf datasets that Big Tech uses, and about what impact these have in terms of surveillance and on minority communities specifically. 

Can you talk a bit about the different terms used to describe this kind of approach to education, ‘culturally relevant teaching’ and ‘decolonising the curriculum’?

‘Culturally relevant’ is easier to sit with. ‘Decolonising the curriculum’ provokes a reaction, but it’s really about teaching children about histories and perspectives on curricula that affect us all. We need to move towards a curriculum that is fit for purpose where children are taught different perspectives and truth that they recognise. Even if you’re in a school without any Black children at all, the curriculum still needs to be decolonised so that children can actually understand and benefit from the many ways that topics, events, subjects may be taught.

A woman teacher helps a young person with a coding project.

When we think about learning in terms of being culturally relevant and responsive, this is about harnessing children’s heritage, experiences, and viewpoints to engage learners such that the curriculum is meaningful and includes them. The goal here is to promote long-term and consistent engagement with Computing.

What is being missed by current initiatives to increase diversity and Black students’ engagement?

Diversity initiatives are a good step, but we need to give it time. 

The selection process for subjects at GCSE can sometimes affect the uptake of computing. Then there are individual attitudes and experiences of pupils. It has been documented that Black and Asian students have often been in the minority and experience marginalisation, particularly noted in the case of female students in GCSE Computer Science.

ITE (Initial Teacher Education) providers need to consider their partnerships with schools and support schools to be more inclusive. We need more Black teachers, as I said. We also need to democratise pathways for young people getting into computing and STEM careers. Applying to university is one way — there should be others.

Schools could also develop partnerships with organisations that have their roots in the Black community. Research has also highlighted discriminatory practices in careers advice, and in the application and interview processes of Russell Group universities. These need to be addressed.

A students in a computer science lecture.

There are too few Black academics at universities. This can have an impact on student choice and decisions about whether to attend an institution or not. Institutions may seem unwelcoming or unsympathetic. Higher education institutions need to eliminate bias through feedback and measuring course take-up. 

Outside the field of education, tech companies could offer summer schemes, short programmes to stimulate interest amongst young Black people. Really, the people in leadership positions, all the people with the power, need to be proactive.

A lot of collective work needs to be done. It’s a whole pipeline, and everybody needs to play a part.

What in your mind is a key thing right now that people in computing education who want to engage more Black students should do?

You can present children with Black pioneers in computing and tech. They can show Black children how to achieve their goals in life through computing. For example, create podcasts or make lists with various organisations that use data science to further specific causes.

It’s not a one-off, one teacher thing, it’s a project for the whole school.

Lynda Chinaka

Also, it’s not a one-off, one teacher thing, it’s project for the whole school. You need to build it into a whole curriculum map, do all the things you do to build a new curriculum map: get every teacher to contribute, so they take it on, own it, research it, make those links to the national curriculum so it’s relevant. Looking at it in isolation it’s a problem, but it’s a whole school approach that starts as a working group. And it’s senior management that sets the tone, and they really need to be proactive, but you can start by starting a working group. It won’t be implemented overnight. A bit like introducing a school uniform. Do it slowly, have a pilot year group. Get parents in, have a coffee evening, get school governors on board. It’s a whole staff team effort.

People need to recognise the size of the problem and not be discouraged by the fact that things haven’t happened overnight. But people who are in a position of influence need to start by having those conversations, because that’s the only way that change can happen, quite frankly.

Lynda, thank you for sharing your insights with us!

Lynda was one of the advisors in the group we worked with to create our recently published, practical guide on culturally relevant teaching. You can download it as a free PDF now. We hope it will help you kickstart conversations in your setting.

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Perspectives on supporting young people in low-income areas to access and engage with computing

The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s mission is to make computing and digital making accessible to all. To support young people at risk of educational disadvantage because they don’t have access to computing devices outside of school, we’ve set up the Learn at Home campaign. But access is only one part of the story. To learn more about what support these young people need across organisations and countries, we set up a panel discussion at the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing conference.

Two young African women work at desktop computers.

The three panelists provided a stimulating discussion of some key issues in supporting young people in low-income areas in the UK, USA, and Guyana to engage with computing, and we hope their insights are of use to educators, youth workers, and organisations around the world.

The panellists and their perspectives

Our panellists represent three different countries, and all have experience of teaching in schools and/or working with young people outside of the formal education system. Because of the differences between countries in terms of access to computing, having this spread of expertise and contexts allowed the panelists to compare lessons learned in different sectors and locations.

Lenlandlar Singh

Panelist Lenandlar Singh is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Guyana. In Guyana, there is a range of computing-related courses for high school students, and access to optional qualifications in computer science at A level (age 17–18).

Yolanda Payne.

Panelist Yolanda Payne is a Research Associate at the Constellations Center at Georgia Tech, USA. In the US, computing curricula differ across states, although there is some national leadership through associations, centres, and corporations.

Christina Watson.

Christina Watson is Assistant Director of Design at UK Youth*, UK. The UK has a mandatory computing curriculum for learners aged 5–18, although curricula vary across the four home nations (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland).

As the moderator, I posed the following three questions, which the panelists answered from their own perspectives and experiences:

  • What are the key challenges for young people to engage with computing in or out of school, and what have you done to overcome these challenges?
  • What do you see as the role of formal and non-formal learning opportunities in computing for these young people?
  • What have you learned that could help other people working with these young people and their communities in the future?

Similarities across contexts

One of the aspects of the discussion that really stood out was the number of similarities across the panellists’ different contexts. 

The first of these similarities was the lack of access to computing amongst young people from low-income families, particularly in more rural areas, across all three countries. These access issues concerned devices and digital infrastructure, but also the types of opportunities in and out of school that young people were able to engage with.

Two girls code at a desktop computer while a female mentor observes them.

Christina (UK) shared results from a survey conducted with Aik Saath, a youth organisation in the UK Youth network (see graphs below). The results highlighted that very few young people in low-income areas had access to their own device for online learning, and mostly their access was to a smartphone or tablet rather than a computer. She pointed out that youth organisations can struggle to provide access to computing not only due to lack of funding, but also because they don’t have secure spaces in which to store equipment.

Lenandlar (Guyana) and Christina (UK) also discussed the need to improve the digital skills and confidence of teachers and youth workers so they can support young people with their computing education. While Lenandlar spoke about recruitment and training of qualified computing teachers in Guyana, Christina suggested that it was less important for youth workers in the UK to become experts in the field and more important for them to feel empowered and confident in supporting young people to explore computing and understand different career paths. UK Youth found that partnering with organisations that provided technical expertise (such as us at the Raspberry Pi Foundation) allowed youth workers to focus on the broader support that the young people needed.

Both Yolanda (US) and Lenandlar (Guyana) discussed the restrictive nature of the computing curriculum in schools, agreeing with Christina (UK) that outside of the classroom, there was more freedom for young people to explore different aspects of computing. All three agreed that introducing more fun and relevant activities into the curriculum made young people excited about computing and reduced stereotypes and misconceptions about the discipline and career. Yolanda explained that using modern, real-life examples and role models was a key part of connecting with young people and engaging them in computing.

What can teachers do to support young people and their families?

Yolanda (US) advocated strongly for listening to students and their communities to help understand what is meaningful and relevant to them. One example of this approach is to help young people and their families understand the economics of technology, and how computing can be used to support, develop, and sustain businesses and employment in their community. As society has become more reliant on computing and technology, this can translate into real economic impact.

A CoderDojo coding session for young people.

Both Yolanda (US) and Lenandlar (Guyana) emphasised the importance of providing opportunities for digital making, allowing students opportunities to become creators rather than just consumers of technology. They also highly recommended providing relevant contexts for computing and identifying links with different careers.

The panellists also discussed the importance of partnering with other education settings, with tech companies, and with non-profit organisations to provide access to equipment and opportunities for students in schools that have limited budgets and capacity for computing. These links can also highlight key role models and help to build strong relationships in the community between businesses and schools.

What is the role of non-formal settings in low-income areas?

All of the panellists agreed that non-formal settings provided opportunities for further exploration and skill development outside of a strict curriculum. Christina (UK) particularly highlighted that these settings helped support young people and families who feel left behind by the education system, allowing them to develop practical skills and knowledge that can help their whole family. She emphasised the strong relationships that can be developed in these settings and how these can provide relatable role models for young people in low-income areas.

A young girl uses a computer.

Tips and suggestions

After the presentation, the panelists responded to the audience’s questions with some practical tips and suggestions for engaging young people in low-income communities with computing:

How do you engage young people who are non-native English speakers with mainly English computing materials?

  • For curriculum materials, it’s possible to use Google Translate to allow students to access them. The software is not always totally accurate but goes some way to supporting these students. You can also try to use videos that have captioning and options for non-English subtitles.
  • We offer translated versions of our free online projects, thanks to a community of dedicated volunteer translators from around the world. Learners can choose from up to 30 languages (as shown in the picture below).
The Raspberry Pi Foundation's projects website, with the drop-down menu to choose a human language highlighted.
Young people can learn about computing in their first language by using the menu on our projects site.

How do you set up partnerships with other organisations?

  • Follow companies on social media and share how you are using their products or tools, and how you are aligned with their goals. This can form the basis of future partnerships.
  • When you are actively applying for partnerships, consider the following points:
    • What evidence do you have that you need support from the potential partner?
    • What support are you asking for? This may differ across potential partners, so make sure your pitch is relevant and tailored to a specific partner.
    • What evidence could you use to show the impact you are already having or previous successful projects or partnerships?

Make use of our free training resources and guides

For anyone wishing to learn computing knowledge and skills, and the skills you need to teach young people in and out of school about these topics, we provide a wide range of free online training courses to cover all your needs. Educators in England can also access the free CPD that we and our consortium partners offer through the National Centre for Computing Education.

To help you support your learners in and out of school to engage with computing in ways that are meaningful and relevant for them, we recently published a guide on culturally relevant teaching.

We also support a worldwide network of volunteers to run CoderDojos, which are coding clubs for young people in local community spaces. Head over to the CoderDojo website to discover more about the free materials and help we’ve got for you.

We would like to thank our panellists Lenandlar Singh, Yolanda Payne, and Christina Watson for sharing their time and expertise, and the Tapia conference organisers for providing a great platform to discuss issues of diversity, equality, and inclusion in computing.


*UK Youth is a leading charity working across the UK with an open network of over 8000 youth organisations. The charity has influence as a sector-supporting infrastructure body, a direct delivery partner, and a campaigner for social change.

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Introducing raspberrypi.com

I am delighted to announce the launch of raspberrypi.com — a new website dedicated to Raspberry Pi computers and associated technologies. Head on over to find all about our low-cost, high-performance PCs, add-on boards or HATs, microcontrollers, accessories, and much more. 

As well as being able to learn about and purchase the full range of hardware products, on the new website you can download our latest software, find detailed technical documentation, connect with the community on the forums, and read the latest news about Raspberry Pi technologies and how they’re being used to change the world. 

What’s changing at raspberrypi.org

This website (raspberrypi.org) will continue to be the home for the Raspberry Pi Foundation and all of our educational initiatives to help young people learn about computers and how to create with digital technologies.

That includes online resources to help young people learn how to code, information about our networks of Code Clubs and CoderDojos, training and support for teachers and other educators, and access to the world’s leading-edge research into computing education.

You’ll still be able to find loads of resources about Raspberry Pi computers in education, and cool opportunities for young people to learn how to code and create with Raspberry Pi technologies, whether that’s our space programme Astro Pi, or building robots with Raspberry Pi Pico.

Why the change?

When raspberrypi.org was first launched as a WordPress blog in 2011, we were talking about a low-cost, programmable computer that was being designed for education. 

Fast-forward a decade, and we are now speaking about an increasingly broad range of technology and education products and services to industry, hobbyists, educators, researchers, and young people. While there is lots of overlap between those communities and their interests, it is becoming increasingly difficult to address everyone’s needs on one website. So this change is really all about making life easier for you. 

We will continue to provide lots of links and connections between the two sites to make sure that you can easily find what you’re looking for. As ever, we’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below. 

Connect with us on our new social media channels

Alongside the changes to the websites, we’re also launching new social channels that are focused on the Foundation’s educational initiatives. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Growing Raspberry Pi’s presence in Africa

Raspberry Pi is growing our presence in Africa, and we’re keen to talk to businesses and educational organisations in the region to learn and to build partnerships.

Developing partnerships

As part of our investments in the region, I am delighted to join Raspberry Pi as Strategic Partnerships Manager, and initially I will be focusing on Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Cameroon, and Uganda. We will prioritise building a network of Raspberry Pi Approved Resellers and developing the right partnerships across industry and the education sector.

Uber's First Hackathon in Lagos
Uber’s First Hackathon in Lagos, Nigeria

Ensuring affordability with Raspberry Pi Approved Resellers

Over the last decade, Raspberry Pi has established a strong presence in the European and North American markets through partnership with our network of excellent Raspberry Pi Approved Resellers, providing access to affordable technology for the home, for business, and for education. Customers in many areas across Asia and the Pacific, too, have a choice of Approved Resellers offering Raspberry Pi products.

So far, our presence in Africa has been through our approved reseller PiShop in South Africa, which also has some commercial operations into other countries in southern Africa. Much of West, East, and North Africa has been underserved, and consumers in these regions have often obtained Raspberry Pi products via e-commerce websites in Europe, North America, and sometimes China. This has meant high costs of shipping products into Africa, which undermines our goal of ensuring affordability and availability across the continent. To address this, we have begun work to provide African customers with easy and reliable access to Raspberry Pi products at an affordable price point.

Supporting technological innovation

Africa has seen an explosion of technological advances in recent years, with investors funding innovative businesses built around technology. The continent is facing challenges ranging from accessibility to uninterrupted energy supplies, climate change, enabling agricultural potential, and building smart cities, and Africa’s mainly young population is meeting them head on.

Random Hacks of Kindness, a two-day hackathon. “RHoK Nairobi, Kenya” by Erik (HASH) Hersman / CC BY

While there is no shortage of innovative ideas, there is a real need for the right equipment and tools to support this ecosystem of makers, hobbyists, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Raspberry Pi is poised to close this gap.

Get in touch

Over the next couple of months, we will be planning a tour of our focus countries to visit the leadership of engineering associations and bodies, engaging with engineering student communities and maker spaces on the continent and building strategic alliances to deepen our inroads in the region. As Covid restrictions are eased, we will be visiting several countries on the continent to help us discover how we can best provide products and services that directly impact the region by ensuring access to low-cost, high-quality technology.

ken okolo crop
Ken Okolo

Could your African retail business meet our high standards for Raspberry Pi Approved Resellers, or could your educational organisation or your enterprise benefit from affordable desktop computers? Do your products require embedded computing power, or could your business grow with low-cost, low-power process monitoring or control? Get in touch with us by emailing: ken.okolo@raspberrypi.com. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

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30-second blood analysis with Raspberry Pi

A portable, affordable Raspberry Pi-powered blood analyser is helping to “establish a robust healthcare ecosystem” in remote parts of India. Samples can be tested in just 30 seconds, and the cost and size of the parts make it an attractive solution for rural and resource-strapped areas.

It is the work of researchers Sangeeta Palekar and Jayu Kalambe from the Department of Electronics Engineering at Shri Ramdeobaba College of Engineering and Management.

blood analyser
(Image credit: Shri Ramdeobaba / College of Engineering And Management)

Tiny computer — massive processing power

Regular blood tests are vital in the tracking and elimination of many diseases, but there is a huge time and monetary cost currently tied to this type of laboratory work.

The researchers’s device measures light absorbance through a blood sample, a common type of analysis, and they harnessed the processing capability of Raspberry Pi 4 Model B to analyse the absorbance data. Their Raspberry Pi-powered solution was found to perform on a par with the kind of expensive lab-based blood test typically used.

Quick and easy

Sangeeta and Jayu’s analyser is not only cheaper to build and maintain than the lab-based version, it also does the job better. Using the lab-based method means that samples from patients in rural areas must be sent away for analysis, with results communicated back to patients at a much later date. In contrast, Sangeeta and Jayu’s device can process blood samples there and then. All you need is an electricity source. Patients get their results immediately, and there is no need to transport delicate samples across rural terrain.

Shri Ramdeobaba College of Engineering and Management

Incorporating an IoT element into their design, which would allow for remote monitoring, is the next step for the researchers. They also intend to develop their invention to allow it to carry out different types of blood analyses.

Read more about the science behind the creation

The full research paper is behind a paywall, but the abstract does a great job succinctly explaining all the science. Sangeeta herself also explains a lot of the magic behind her creation in this interview with IEEE Spectrum.

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See what the sounds around you look like with Raspberry Pi Pico

Raspberry Pi Pico powers this real-time audio spectrogram visualiser using a digital microphone to pick up the sound and an LCD display to show us what those sounds ‘look’ like.

See Sound in Real-Time Using Your Raspberry Pi Pico

First things first

OK firstly, let’s make sure we know what all of those words mean, because ‘audio spectrogram visualiser’ is a bit of a mouthful:

  • A ‘spectrogram’ is a visual way of representing signal strength, or “loudness”, of a signal.
  • The ‘visualiser’ bit comes in when these frequencies are presented as waveforms on the little screen.
  • And the ‘audio‘ is simply because Sandeep is visualising sounds in this project.

Perfectly portable sound monitor

This pocket-sized device can be carried around with you and lets you see a visual representation of your surrounding audio environment in real-time. So, if you wander into a peaceful bird reserve or something, the LCD display will show you something very different than if you were in, say, Wembley Stadium during an FA Cup final.

Above, you can see Sandeep’s creation in action in the vicinity of a crying baby.

See Sound in Real-Time Using Your Raspberry Pi Pico

Hardware

That is a satisfyingly affordable hardware list.

How does it work?

In the video below, you can see there is a direct correlation between the original audio signal’s amplitude (on the left) and the audio spectrogram’s representation of the signal on the right.

The Microphone Library for Pico captures data from Sandeep’s digital microphone. And Arm’s CMSIS-DSP library processes the audio in real-time, then transforms it into spectrograms. These are then displayed one row at a time on the LCD screen using the ST7789 Library for Pico.

Maker Sandeep Mistry created the original project guide on behalf of the Arm Software Developers team. Check out his other tutorial on how to create a USB Microphone with the Raspberry Pi Pico.

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Machine Learning Prosthetic Arm | The MagPi #110

This intelligent arm learns how to move naturally, based on what the wearer is doing, as Phil King discovers in the latest issue of The MagPi, out now.

Known for his robotic creations, popular YouTuber James Bruton is also a keen Iron Man cosplayer, and his latest invention would surely impress Tony Stark: an intelligent prosthetic arm that can move naturally and autonomously, depending on the wearer’s body posture and limb movements.

Equipped with three heavy-duty servos, the prosthetic arm moves naturally based on the data from IMU sensors on the wearer’s other limbs
Equipped with three heavy-duty servos, the prosthetic arm moves naturally based on the data from IMU sensors on the wearer’s other limbs

“It’s a project I’ve been thinking about for a while, but I’ve never actually attempted properly,” James tells us. “I thought it would be good to have a work stream of something that could be useful.”

Motion capture suit

To obtain the body movement data on which to base the arm’s movements, James considered using a brain computer, but this would be unreliable without embedding electrodes in his head! So, he instead opted to train it with machine learning.

For this he created a motion capture suit from 3D-printed parts to gather all the data from his body motions: arms, legs, and head. The suit measures joint movements using rotating pieces with magnetic encoders, along with limb and head positions – via a special headband – using MPU-6050 inertial measurement units and Teensy LC boards.

Part of the motion capture suit, the headband is equipped with an IMU to gather movement data
Part of the motion capture suit, the headband is equipped with an IMU to gather movement data

Collected by a Teensy 4.1, this data is then fed into a machine learning model running on the suit’s Raspberry Pi Zero using AOgmaNeo, a lightweight C++ software library designed to run on low-power devices such a microcontrollers.

“AOgmaNeo is a reinforcement machine learning system which learns what all of the data is doing in relation to itself,” James explains. “This means that you can remove any piece of data and, after training, the software will do its best to replace the missing piece with a learned output. In my case, I’m removing the right arm and using the learned output to drive the prosthetic arm, but it could be any limb.”

While James notes that AOgmaNeo is actually meant for reinforcement learning,“in this case we know what the output should be rather than it being unknown and learning through binary reinforcement.”

The motion capture suit comprises 3D-printed parts, each equipped with a magnetic rotary encoder, MPU-6050 IMU, and Teensy LC
The motion capture suit comprises 3D-printed parts, each equipped with a magnetic rotary encoder, MPU-6050 IMU, and Teensy LC

To train the model, James used distinctive repeated motions, such as walking, so that the prosthetic arm would later be able to predict what it should do from incoming sensor data. He also spent some time standing still so that the arm would know what to do in that situation.

New model arm

With the machine learning model trained, Raspberry Pi Zero can be put into playback mode to control the backpack-mounted arm’s movements intelligently. It can then duplicate what the wearer’s real right arm was doing during training depending on the positions and movements of other body parts.

So, as he demonstrates in his YouTube video, if James starts walking on the spot, the prosthetic arm swings the opposite way to his left arm as he strides along, and moves forward as raises his left leg. If he stands still, the arm will hang down by his side. The 3D-printed hand was added purely for aesthetic reasons and the fingers don’t move.

Subscribe to James’ YouTube channel

James admits that the project is highly experimental and currently an early work in progress. “I’d like to develop this concept further,” he says, “although the current setup is slightly overambitious and impractical. I think the next step will be to have a simpler set of inputs and outputs.”

While he generally publishes his CAD designs and code, the arm “doesn’t work all that well, so I haven’t this time. AOgmaNeo is open-source, though (free for personal use), so you can make something similar if you wished.” What would you do with an extra arm? 

Get The MagPi #110 NOW!

MagPi 110 Halloween cover

You can grab the brand-new issue right now from the Raspberry Pi Press store, or via our app on Android or iOS. You can also pick it up from supermarkets and newsagents. There’s also a free PDF you can download.

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Raspberry Pi helped restore this boat to former glory

Baltic is a handsome 1962 vintage tugboat that was built in Norway, where she operated until the 1980s. She’s now in English waters, having been registered in Southampton once renovations were complete. After some initial hull restoration work in France she sailed to the western Ligurian coast in Italy, where it took about five years to complete the work. The boat’s original exterior was restored, while the inside was fully refurbished to the standard of a luxury yacht.

restored boat being pulled out of water before any work had been done on it
You need quite a large crane to do this

But where is the Raspberry Pi?

Ulderico Arcidiaco, who coordinated the digital side of Baltic’s makeover, is the CEO of Sfera Labs, so naturally he turned to Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ in the guise of Sfera’s Strato Pi CM Duo for the new digital captain of the vessel.

Strato Pi CM Duo is an industrial server comprising a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ inside a DIN-rail case with a slew of additional features. The MagPi magazine took a good look at them when they launched.

restored boat control room
Beats the view from our windows

The Strato Pi units are the four with red front panels in the cabinet pictured below. There are four other Raspberry Pi Compute Modules elsewhere onboard. Two are identical to the Strato Pi CM Duos in this photo; another is inside an Iono Pi Max; and there’s a Compute Module 4 inside an Exo Sense Pi down in the galley.

restored boat control cupboard
No spaghetti here

Thoroughly modern makeover

Baltic now has fully integrated control of all core and supplementary functions, from power distribution to tanks and pump control, navigation, alarms, fire, lighting, stabilisers, chargers, inverters, battery banks, and video. All powered by Raspberry Pi.

restored boat docked in sunny blue sky location
What a beauty

Ulderico says:

“When it was built sixty years ago, not even the wildest science fiction visionary could have imagined she would one day be fully computer controlled, and not by expensive dedicated computer hardware, but by a tiny and inexpensive device that any kid can easily buy and play with to have fun learning.

And, if there is some old-fashioned patriotism in things, the Raspberry Pi on board will surely like the idea of being back under their home British Flag.”

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Celebrating the community: Yolanda

So far in our series of community stories, we’ve collaborated with young people from the UK, India, and Romania who are getting creative with technology to change the world around them.

Yolanda Payne.

Our next community story comes from a highly regarded community member who has been connecting young people with opportunities to learn and create with technology throughout her career. A US-based educator with over twenty years of experience, Yolanda Payne shares our mission to put computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world.

“The biggest reason I’m so invested in technology is because people invested in me.”

Yolanda Payne

Meet Yolanda

Yolanda Payne is an educator you might recognise from our online courses. Based in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA, she’s passionate about making technology accessible to all and helping young people become technology creators.

Join us in celebrating Yolanda by sharing her story on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook! 

Yolanda says, “The biggest reason I’m so invested in technology is because people invested in me. They saw something that I was good at, showed me opportunities, and so in turn, that was my philosophy in teaching.” 

Yolanda got her first computer at a young age and was hooked instantly: it opened up many new opportunities and led her to choosing a career in education. She says, “The computer gives me the tools to be an artist, it gives me the tools to create things, and if it does that for me, then just imagine what it will do for kids!”

“If you give a teacher a Raspberry Pi and show them these resources, they’re going to be hooked.”

Yolanda Payne

Yolanda has spent her entire professional life dedicated to education. She gained a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Mississippi University for Women; a master’s degree in Instructional Technology from Mississippi State University; and Educational Specialist degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Georgia in Curriculum and Instruction, and in Language and Literacy.

A female computing educator with three female students at laptops in a classroom.

Throughout her twenty-one years as a classroom teacher and her time running Code Clubs, Yolanda found joy in supporting students who have multiple challenges or complex needs, and in seeing them thrive in the subject of computer science. Yolanda points out, “I worked with both students that were considered to be in special education and students that were gifted. And one of the biggest things that I saw that I don’t think people realise, especially about students in special education: they are used to solving problems. […] You’d be very surprised at how real-life problem-solving skills flow very easily into computer science.”

Yolanda now works as a Research Associate at the Georgia Institute of Technology. We are tremendously thankful for her contributions as an educator and an advocate for technology and young people. 

Please join us in celebrating her story by sharing it on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook! 

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Listen to the weather change with The Sky Vane

The Sky Vane provides the soundtrack to an immersive sky-driven experience. Just lie down on the grass, gaze up at the sky, and listen to the changing soundscape through the day.

sky vane at night
The structure is impressive, but it’s everything inside that little “shroom pod” at the bottom that powers this build

A Raspberry Pi powers the arresting structure in the middle of the circle of comfy skygazing mats in the photo above, and is connected to an array of atmospheric sensors. These sensors detect changes in light, temperature, pressure, and humidity. Then they send real-time data to the Raspberry Pi computer in order to create a dynamic soundtrack.


The Sky Vane’s creators produced a carefully written soundtrack for the experience. Raspberry Pi triggers changes to the number of musical layers, sequences, audio effects processing, and so on, based on the information the sensors read. That’s the “dynamic” bit. A huge gust of wind, for example, leads to a different musical change than the setting sun.

A portable Minirig sound system generates a seriously high-fidelity audio experience that can be heard clearly within a 25-metre radius of The Sky Vane.

Hardware

  • Pisound, a sound card and MIDI interface specially designed for Raspberry Pi
  • A Raspberry Pi, with the Pisound add-on attached, sitting inside the semi-transparent box in the bottom left of the image below
  • The little thing on the breadboard is a Teensy LC
  • Everything hides underneath the dome-shaped “shroom pod”, which in turn sits beneath the big sculpture
skyvane kit

Inspiration behind the installation

The Sky Vane is the latest installation from pyka, a collective of experienced designers who create digital artefacts that enable you to explore the world of sound. Commissioned by Tin Shed Theatre Company and Our Living Levels, The Sky Vane’s big debut was at the Big Skies 2021 event in south Wales.

When they were planning this installation, the creators at pyka weren’t sure how it would go down in a post-pandemic world. They’re used to building things that bring people together, but they were mindful of people’s anxiety around shared public activities. This led to a design that promotes quiet contemplation and mindfulness whilst enjoying the freedom of the outdoors. We think it’s lovely.

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RetroPie Cyberdeck | HackSpace #47

You know we love a good cyberdeck around here, and we think you’ll love this video game emulator fresh from the latest issue of HackSpace magazine, out now.

We’ve only just finished printing a series on building a games cabinet using the RetroPie games emulator on a Raspberry Pi… and now something comes along that makes our plywood, full-size arcade machine look old hat. 

hackspace cyberdeck

This mostly 3D-printed cyberdeck features a 5-inch 800 × 480 touchscreen display, as well as the usual ports available through the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ that powers it. Quite how useful the screen’s portrait orientation will be for Sonic The Hedgehog is anyone’s guess, but if you’re playing any sort of top-down shooter, you’re laughing. The maker describes this project as a “video game emulator with some edge” – we think it’s pretty impressive for a project that began as an excuse to learn 3D design.

hackspace cyberdeck

HackSpace magazine issue 47 out NOW!

Each month, HackSpace magazine brings you the best projects, tips, tricks and tutorials from the makersphere. You can get it from the Raspberry Pi Press online store or your local newsagents.

hackspace 47 cover

As always, every issue is free to download in PDF format from the HackSpace magazine website.

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The Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2022

Get the Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2022 right now! Over 200 pages of Raspberry Pi projects, tutorials, tips, and reviews.

Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2022

Hey folks, Rob from The MagPi here. It’s been a while! I hope you’re doing well.

We’ve been on double duty this month. As well as making an amazing new issue of The MagPi (out next week), we’ve also put together a brand new book: the Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2022, which is on sale now!

Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2022

Packed with projects

The new Handbook is crammed full of incredible community projects, some of our best build guides, an introduction to Raspberry Pi Pico, and reviews of cool Raspberry Pi kits and accessories – all stuffed into 200 pages. Here are some highlights from the book:

Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2022

Lunchbox Arcade Game – make lunchtime far more exciting by busting out some Street Fighter II and having someone eat your hadoukens. Make sure to eat between rounds for maximum satisfaction.

We Still Fax – one part escape room, one part performance theatre, this relic of office technology has been hacked with a Raspberry Pi to be the centrepiece of a special show in your own living room.

iPod Classic Spotify Player – using a Raspberry Pi Zero W, this old-school iPod has been upgraded with Spotify access. The interface has even been recreated to work the same way as the old iPod, scroll wheel and all.

Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2022

Play classic console games legally on Raspberry Pi – there are a surprising number of ways to get legal ROMs for Raspberry Pi-powered consoles, as well as a plethora of modern games made for the older hardware.

Build the ultimate media centre – get TV, movies, games, streaming, music, and more on one incredible Raspberry Pi build. It looks good too, thanks to the excellent case.

Stellina – this automated telescope is powered by Raspberry Pi and connects to a tablet to look at planets and other distant celestial objects.

… And much, much more!

Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2022

Where can I buy it?

You can grab the Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2022 from our online store, from our Android and iOS app, and in the real world at some newsagents. It will make an excellent stocking stuffer in a few months time. You can also get the PDF free from our website.

Until next time, take care of yourselves!

Official Raspberry Pi Handbook 2022

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New free resources for young people to become independent digital makers

Our mission at the Raspberry Pi Foundation is to help learners get creative with technology and develop the skills and confidence they need to make things that matter to them using code and physical computing. One of the ways in which we do this is by offering learners a catalogue of more than 250 free digital making projects! Some of them have been translated into 30 languages, and they can be used with or without a Raspberry Pi computer.

Over the last 18 months, we’ve been developing an all-new format for these educational projects, designed to better support young people who want to learn coding, whether at home or in a coding club, on their digital making journey.

An illustration of the 3-2-1 structure of the new Raspberry Pi Foundation coding project paths.
Our new free learning content for young people who want to create with technology has a 3-2-1 structure (click the image to enlarge)

Supporting learners to become independent tech creators

In the design process of the new project format, we combined:

  • Leading research
  • Experience of what works in Code Clubs, CoderDojos, and other Raspberry Pi programmes
  • Feedback from the community

While designing the new format for our free projects, we found that, as well as support and opportunities to practise while acquiring new skills and knowledge, learners need a learning journey that lets them gradually develop and demonstrate increasing independence.

Therefore, each of our new learning paths is designed to scaffold learners’ success in the early stages, and then lets them build upon this learning by providing them with more open-ended tasks and inspirational ideas that learners can adapt or work from. Each learning path is made up of six projects, and the projects become less structured as learners progress along the path. This allows learners to practise their newly acquired skills and use their creativity and interests to make projects that matter to them. In this way, learners develop more and more independence, and when they reach the final project in the path, they are presented with a simple project brief. By this time they have the skills, practice, and confidence to meet this brief any way they choose!

The new content structure

When a learner is ready to develop a new set of coding skills, they choose one of our new paths to embark on. Each path is made up of three different types of projects in a 3-2-1 structure:

  • The first three Explore projects introduce learners to a set of skills and knowledge, and provide step-by-step instructions to help learners develop initial confidence. Throughout these projects, learners have lots of opportunity to personalise and tinker with what they’re creating.
  • The next two Design projects are opportunities for learners to practise the skills they learned in the previous Explore projects, and to express themselves creatively. Learners are guided through creating their own version of a type of project (such as a musical instrument, an interactive pet, or a website to support a local event), and they are given code examples to choose, combine, and customise. No new skills are introduced in these projects, so that learners can focus on practising and on designing and creating a project based on their own preferences and interests.
  • In the final one Invent project, learners focus on completing a project to meet a project brief for a particular audience. The project brief is written so that they can meet it using the skills they’ve learned by following the path up to this point. Learners are provided with reference material, but are free to decide which skills to use. They need to plan their project and decide on the order to carry out tasks.

As a result of working through a path, learners are empowered to make their own ideas and create solutions to situations they or their communities face, with increased independence. And in order to develop more skills, learners can work through more paths, giving them even more choice about what they create in the future.

More features for an augmented learning experience

We’ve also introduced some new features to add interactivity, choice, and authenticity to each project in a path:

  • Real-world info box-outs provide interesting and relevant facts about the skills and knowledge being taught.
  • Design decision points allow learners to make choices about how their project looks and what it does, based on their preferences and interests.
  • Debugging tips throughout each project give learners guidance for finding and fixing common coding mistakes.
  • Project reflection steps solidify new knowledge and provide opportunities for mastery by letting learners revisit the important learnings from the project. Common misconceptions are highlighted, and learners are guided to the correct answer.
  • At the start of each project, learners can interact with example creations from the community, and at the end of a project, they are encouraged to share what they’ve made. Thus, learners can find inspiration in the creations of their peers and receive constructive feedback on their own projects.
  • An open-ended upgrade step at the end of each project offers inspiration for young people to give them ideas for ways in which they could continue to improve upon their project in the future.

Access the new free learning content now

You can discover our new paths on our projects site right now!

We’ll be adding even more content soon, including completely new Python programming and web development paths!

As always, we’d love to know what you think: here’s a feedback form for you to share comments you have about our new content!

For feedback specific to an individual project, you can use the feedback link in the footer of that project’s page as usual.

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