Create a Scramble-style scrolling landscape | Wireframe issue 22

Weave through a randomly generated landscape in Mark Vanstone’s homage to the classic arcade game Scramble.

Scramble was developed by Konami and released in arcades in 1981. Players avoid terrain and blast enemy craft.

Konami’s Scramble

In the early eighties, arcades and sports halls rang with the sound of a multitude of video games. Because home computers hadn’t yet made it into most households, the only option for the avid video gamer was to go down to their local entertainment establishment and feed the machines with ten pence pieces (which were bigger then). One of these pocket money–hungry machines was Konami’s Scramble — released in 1981, it was one of the earliest side-scrolling shooters with multiple levels.

The Scramble player’s jet aircraft flies across a randomly generated landscape (which sometimes narrows to a cave system), avoiding obstacles and enemy planes, bombing targets on the ground, and trying not to crash. As the game continues, the difficulty increases. The player aircraft can only fly forward, so once a target has been passed, there’s no turning back for a second go.

Code your own scrolling landscape

In this example code, I’ll show you a way to generate a Scramble-style scrolling landscape using Pygame Zero and a couple of additional Pygame functions. On early computers, moving a lot of data around the screen was very slow — until dedicated video hardware like the blitter chip arrived. Scrolling, however, could be achieved either by a quick shuffle of bytes to the left or right in the video memory, or in some cases, by changing the start address of the video memory, which was even quicker.

Avoid the roof and the floor with the arrow keys. Jet graphic courtesy of TheSource4Life at opengameart.org.

For our scrolling, we can use a Pygame surface the same size as the screen. To get the scrolling effect, we just call the scroll() function on the surface to shift everything left by one pixel and then draw a new pixel-wide slice of the terrain. The terrain could just be a single colour, but I’ve included a bit of maths-based RGB tinkering to make it more colourful. We can draw our terrain surface over a background image, as the SRCALPHA flag is set when we create the surface. This is also useful for detecting if the jet has hit the terrain. We can test the pixel from the surface in front of the jet: if it’s not transparent, kaboom!

The jet itself is a Pygame Zero Actor and can be moved up and down with the arrow keys. The left and right arrows increase and decrease the speed. We generate the landscape in the updateLand() and drawLand() functions, where updateLand() first decides whether the landscape is inclining or declining (and the same with the roof), making sure that the roof and floor don’t get too close, and then it scrolls everything left.

Each scroll action moves everything on the terrain surface to the left by one pixel.

The drawLand() function then draws pixels at the right-hand edge of the surface from y coordinates 0 to 600, drawing a thin sliver of roof, open space, and floor. The speed of the jet determines how many times the landscape is updated in each draw cycle, so at faster speeds, many lines of pixels are added to the right-hand side before the display updates.

The use of randint() can be changed to create a more or less jagged landscape, and the gap between roof and floor could also be adjusted for more difficulty. The original game also had enemy aircraft, which you could make with Actors, and fuel tanks on the ground, which could be created on the right-hand side as the terrain comes into view and then moved as the surface scrolls. Scramble sparked a wave of horizontal shooters, from both Konami and rival companies; this short piece of code could give you the basis for making a decent Scramble clone of your own:

Here’s Mark’s code, which gets a Scramble-style scrolling landscape running in Python. To get it working on your system, you’ll first need to install Pygame Zero. And to download the full code, go here.

Get your copy of Wireframe issue 22

You can read more features like this one in Wireframe issue 22, available now at Tesco, WHSmith, and all good independent UK newsagents, and the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge.

Or you can buy Wireframe directly from Raspberry Pi Press — delivery is available worldwide. And if you’d like a handy digital version of the magazine, you can also download issue 22 for free in PDF format.

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Using data to help a school garden

Chris Aviles, aka the teacher we all wish we’d had when we were at school, discusses how his school is in New Jersey is directly linking data with life itself…

Over to you, Chris.

Every year, our students take federal or state-mandated testing, but what significant changes have we made to their education with the results of these tests? We have never collected more data about our students and society in general. The problem is most people and institutions do a poor job interpreting data and using it to make meaningful change. This problem was something I wanted to tackle in FH Grows.

FH Grows is the name of my seventh-grade class, and is a student-run agriculture business at Knollwood Middle School in Fair Haven, New Jersey. In FH Grows, we sell our produce both online and through our student-run farmers markets. Any produce we don’t sell is donated to our local soup kitchen. To get the most out of our school gardens, students have built sensors and monitors using Raspberry Pis. These sensors collect data which then allows me to help students learn to better interpret data themselves and turn it into action.

Turning data into action

In the greenhouse, our gardens, and alternative growing stations (hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics) we have sensors that log the temperature, humidity, and other important data points that we want to know about our garden. This data is then streamed in real time, online at FHGrows.com. When students come into the classroom, one of the first things we look at is the current, live data on the site and find out what is going on in our gardens. Over the course of the semester, students are taught about the ideal growing conditions of our garden. When looking at the data, if we see that the conditions in our gardens aren’t ideal, we get to work.

If we see that the greenhouse is too hot, over 85 degrees, students will go and open the greenhouse door. We check the temperature a little bit later, and if it’s still too hot, students will go turn on the fan. But how many fans do you turn on? After experimenting, we know that each fan lowers the greenhouse temperature between 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit. Opening the door and turning on both fans can bring a greenhouse than can push close to 100 degrees in late May or early June down to a manageable 80 degrees.

Turning data into action can allow for some creativity as well. Over-watering plants can be a real problem. We found that our plants were turning yellow because we were watering them every day when we didn’t need to. How could we solve this problem and become more efficient at watering? Students built a Raspberry Pi that used a moisture sensor to find out when a plant needed to be watered. We used a plant with the moisture sensor in the soil as our control plant. We figured that if we watered the control plant at the same time we watered all our other plants, when the control plant was dry (gave a negative moisture signal) the rest of the plants in the greenhouse would need to be watered as well.

Chris Aviles Innovation Lab Raspberry Pi Certified Educator

This method of determining when to water our plants worked well. We rarely ever saw our plants turn yellow from overwatering. Here is where the creativity came in. Since we received a signal from the Raspberry Pi when the soil was not wet enough, we played around with what we could do with that signal. We displayed it on the dashboard along with our other data, but we also decided to make the signal send as an email from the plant. When I showed students how this worked, they decided to write the message from the plant in the first person. Every week or so, we received an email from Carl the Control Plant asking us to come out and water him!

 

If students don’t honour Carl’s request for water, use data to know when to cool our greenhouse, or had not done the fan experiments to see how much cooler they make the greenhouse, all our plants, like the basil we sell to the pizza places in town, would die. This is the beauty of combining data literacy with a school garden: failure to interpret data then act based on their interpretation has real consequences: our produce could die. When it takes 60-120 days to grow the average vegetable, the loss of plants is a significant event. We lose all the time and energy that went into growing those plants as well as lose all the revenue they would have brought in for us. Further, I love the urgency that combining data and the school garden creates because many students have learned the valuable life lesson that not making a decision is making a decision. If students freeze or do nothing when confronted with the data about the garden, that too has consequences.

Using data to spot trends and make predictions

The other major way we use data in FH Grows is to spot trends and make predictions. Different to using data to create the ideal growing conditions in our garden every day, the sensors that we use also provide a way for us to use information about the past to predict the future. FH Grows has about two years’ worth of weather data from our Raspberry Pi weather station (there are guides online if you wish to build a weather station of your own). Using weather data year over year, we can start to determine important events like when it is best to plant our veggies in our garden.

For example, one of the most useful data points on the Raspberry Pi weather station is the ground temperature sensor. Last semester, we wanted to squeeze in a cool weather grow in our garden. This post-winter grow can be done between March and June if you time it right. Getting an extra growing cycle from our garden is incredibly valuable, not only to FH Grows as business (since we would be growing more produce to turn around and sell) but as a way to get an additional learning cycle out of the garden.

So, using two seasons’ worth of ground temperature data, we set out to predict when the ground in our garden would be cool enough to do this cool veggie grow. Students looked at the data we had from our weather station and compared it to different websites that predicted the last frost of the season in our area. We found that the ground right outside our door warmed up two weeks earlier than the more general prediction given by websites. With this information we were able to get a full cool crop grow at a time where our garden used to lay dormant.

We also used our Raspberry Pi to help us predict whether or not it was going to rain over the weekend. Using a Raspberry Pi connected to Weather Underground and previous years’ data, if we believed it would not rain over the weekend we would water our gardens on Friday. If it looked like rain over the weekend, we let Mother Nature water our garden for us. Our prediction using the Pi and previous data was more accurate for our immediate area than compared to the more general weather reports you would get on the radio or an app, since those considered a much larger area when making their prediction.

It seems like we are going to be collecting even more data in the future, not less. It is important that we get our students comfortable working with data. The school garden supported by Raspberry Pi’s amazing ability to collect data is a boon for any teacher who wants to help students learn how to interpret data and turn it into action.
 

Hello World issue 10

Issue 10 of Hello World magazine is out today, and it’s free. 100% free.

Click here to download the PDF right now. Right this second. If you want to be a love, click here to subscribe, again for free. Subscribers will receive an email when the latest issue is out, and we won’t use your details for anything nasty.

If you’re an educator in the UK, click here and you’ll receive the printed version of Hello World direct to your door. And, guess what? Yup, that’s free too!

What I’m trying to say here is that there is a group of hard-working, passionate educators who take the time to write incredible content for Hello World, for free, and you would be doing them (and us, and your students, kids and/or friends) a solid by reading it 🙂

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Raspberry Pi interactive wind chimes

Grab yourself a Raspberry Pi, a Makey Makey, and some copper pipes: it’s interactive wind chime time!

Perpetual Chimes

Perpetual Chimes is a set of augmented wind chimes that offer an escapist experience where your collaboration composes the soundscape. Since there is no wind indoors, the chimes require audience interaction to gently tap or waft them and encourage/nurture the hidden sounds within – triggering sounds as the chimes strike one another.

Normal wind chimes pale in comparison

I don’t like wind chimes. There, I said it. I also don’t like the ticking of the second hand of analogue clocks, and I think these two dislikes might be related. There’s probably a name for this type of dislike, but I’ll leave the Googling to you.

Sound designer Frazer Merrick’s interactive wind chimes may actually be the only wind chimes I can stand. And this is due, I believe, to the wonderful sounds they create when they touch, much more wonderful than regular wind chime sounds. And, obviously, because these wind chimes incorporate a Raspberry Pi 3.

Perpetual Chimes is a set of augmented wind chimes that offer an escapist experience where your collaboration composes the soundscape. Since there is no wind indoors, the chimes require audience interaction to gently tap or waft them and encourage/nurture the hidden sounds within — triggering sounds as the chimes strike one another. Since the chimes make little acoustic noise, essentially they’re broken until you collaborate with them.

Follow the Instructables tutorial to create your own!

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Raspberry Pi has partnered with Shaun the Sheep!

We’re super excited to announce our new partnership with Studiocanal and Aardman Animations celebrating their new film A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, in cinemas this autumn.

Raspberry Pi has partnered with Shaun the Sheep!

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?

Aardman has created so many characters that the members of Raspberry Pi hold dear in our hearts. From the early days of Morph’s interactions with Tony Hart, or Christmas evenings sat watching the adventures of Wallace and Gromit, through to their grand cinema-screen epics, we all have a soft spot for the wonderful creatures this talented bunch have invented.

So when Aardman approached us to ask if we’d like to be the Educational Partner for their new film A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, we obviously jumped at the chance. Aardman are passionate about education, and we are too, so this really was a no-brainer.

Shaun the Sheep: Mission to Space

Today we are launching the brand-new, global Code Club competition ‘Shaun the Sheep: Mission to Space’.

We’re asking young people in registered Code Clubs across the world to create awe-inspiring animations featuring Shaun the Sheep and his new friend LU-LA’s adventures, by following our specially themed ‘Shaun the Sheep: Mission to Space’ Scratch project guide!

The ‘Shaun the Sheep: Mission to Space’ competition closes October 25 2019, and you can find more information on the Code Club website.

Shaun the Sheep character hunt

For those of you who aren’t in a Code Club, we’re also running a second giveaway here on the Raspberry Pi blog. For your chance to enter, you need to find three characters from the film that we’ve hidden throughout the Raspberry Pi and Code Club websites. Once you’ve found three, fill in this form, and we’ll pick ten winners to receive some A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon goodies, including stickers and a pair of Shaun the Sheep ears.

Please note: at least one of the characters you submit must be from the Code Club website, so get hunting!

The closing date for the character hunt is 4 October 2019.

Both competitions are open to everyone, no matter where in the world you are.

We’ll also be uploading the ‘Shaun the Sheep: Mission to Space’ Scratch project to the Raspberry Pi ddesktops at the Raspberry Pi Store, Cambridge, so make sure you stop by this coming half-term to try your hand at coding your own Shaun the Sheep adventure.

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How you, an adult, can take part in the European Astro Pi Challenge

So, yesterday we announced the launch of the 2019/2020 European Astro Pi Challenge, and adults across the globe groaned with jealousy as a result. It’s OK, we did too.

The Astro Pi Challenge is the coolest thing ever

The European Astro Pi Challenge is ridiculously cool. It’s definitely one of the most interesting, awesome, spectacular uses of a Raspberry Pi in the known universe. Two Raspberry Pis in stellar, space-grade aluminium cases are currently sat aboard the International Space Station, waiting for students in ESA Member States to write code to run on them to take part in the Astro Pi Challenge.

But what if, like us, you’re too old to take part in the challenge? How can you get that great sense of space wonderment when you’re no longer at school?

You’re never too old…even when you’re too old

If you’re too old to take part in the challenge, it means you’re old enough to be a team mentor. Team mentors are responsible for helping students navigate the Astro Pi Challenge, ensuring that everyone is where they’re meant to be, doing what they’re meant to be doing. You’ll also also the contact between the team and us, Raspberry Pi and ESA. You’re basically a team member.

You’re basically taking part.

Mission Zero requires no coding knowledge

Mission Zero requires very little of its participants:

  • They don’t need to have any prior knowledge of coding
  • They don’t need a Raspberry Pi

And while they need an adult to supervise them, said adult doesn’t need any coding experience either.

(Spoiler alert: you’re said adult.)

Instead, you just need an hour to sit down with your team at a computer and work through some directions. And the result? Your team’s completed code will run aboard the International Space Station, and they’ll get a certificate to prove it.

You really have no excuse

If you live in an ESA Member State and know anyone aged 14 years or younger, there is absolutely no reason for them not to take part in Astro Pi Mission Zero. And, since they’re probably not reading this blog post right now, it’s your responsibility to tell them about Astro Pi. This is how you take part in the European Astro Pi Challenge: you become the bearer of amazing news when you sit your favourite kids down and tell them they’re going to be writing code that will run on the International Space Station…IN SPACE!

To find out more about Mission Zero, click here. We want to see you pledging your support to your favourite non-adults, so make sure to tell us you’re going to be taking part by leaving a comment below.

There really is no excuse.

 

 

*ESA Member States: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Residents of Slovenia, Canada, or Malta can also take part.

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Run your code aboard the International Space Station with Astro Pi

Each year, the European Astro Pi Challenge allows students and young people in ESA Member States (or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta) to write code for their own experiments, which could run on two Raspberry Pi units aboard the International Space Station.

The Astro Pi Challenge is a lot of fun, it’s about space, and so that we in the Raspberry Pi team don’t have to miss out despite being adults, many of us mentor their own Astro Pi teams — and you should too!

So, gather your team, stock up on freeze-dried ice cream, and let’s do it again: the European Astro Pi Challenge 2019/2020 launches today!

Luca Parmitano launches the 2019-20 European Astro Pi Challenge

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is this year’s ambassador of the European Astro Pi Challenge. In this video, he welcomes students to the challenge and gives an overview of the project. Learn more about Astro Pi: http://bit.ly/AstroPiESA ★ Subscribe: http://bit.ly/ESAsubscribe and click twice on the bell button to receive our notifications.

The European Astro Pi Challenge 2019/2020 is made up of two missions: Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab.

Astro Pi Mission Zero

Mission Zero has been designed for beginners/younger participants up to 14 years old and can be completed in a single session. It’s great for coding clubs or any groups of students don’t have coding experience but still want to do something cool — because having confirmation that code you wrote has run aboard the International Space Station is really, really cool! Teams write a simple Python program to display a message and temperature reading on an Astro Pi computer, for the astronauts to see as they go about their daily tasks on the ISS. No special hardware or prior coding skills are needed, and all teams that follow the challenge rules are guaranteed to have their programs run in space!

Astro Pi Mission Zero logo

Mission Zero eligibility

  • Participants must be no older than 14 years
  • 2 to 4 people per team
  • Participants must be supervised by a teacher, mentor, or educator, who will be the point of contact with the Astro Pi team
  • Teams must be made up of at least 50% team members who are citizens of an ESA Member* State, or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab

Mission Space Lab is aimed at more experienced/older participants up to 19 years old, and it takes place in 4 phases over the course of 8 months. The challenge is to design and write a program for a scientific experiment to be run on an Astro Pi computer. The best experiments will be deployed to the ISS, and teams will have the opportunity to analyse and report on their results.

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab logo

Mission Space Lab eligibility

  • Participants must be no older than 19 years
  • 2 to 6 people per team
  • Participants must be supervised by a teacher, mentor, or educator, who will be the point of contact with the Astro Pi team
  • Teams must be made up of at least 50% team members who are citizens of an ESA Member State*, or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta

How to plan your Astro Pi Mission Space Lab experiment

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?

For both missions, each member of the team has to be at least one of the following:

  • Enrolled full-time in a primary or secondary school in an ESA Member State, or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta
  • Homeschooled (certified by the National Ministry of Education or delegated authority in an ESA Member State or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta)
  • A member of a club or after-school group (such as Code Club, CoderDojo, or Scouts) located in an ESA Member State*, or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta

Take part

To take part in the European Astro Pi Challenge, head over to the Astro Pi website, where you’ll find more information on how to get started getting your team’s code into SPACE!

Obligatory photo of Raspberry Pis floating in space!

*ESA Member States: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

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Gamified boxing with Pi Fighter

Gamifying boxing with a special punchbag that allows you to fight Luke Skywalker? Rob Zwetsloot starts a training montage to check it out.

Not Rob

Street Fighter

Did you know that the original version of Street Fighter had a variant where you could punch the buttons to get Ryu to attack? The harder you smacked the kick button, the more damage it would do. These apparently wore out very quickly, which is why watching Street Fighter tournaments these days is akin to watching someone playing the piano. Albeit with six buttons and a joystick.

What if you could bring this back? And combine it with other arcade classics and staples? Meet Richard Kirby’s Pi Fighter.

A new challenger!

“Pi Fighter is essentially a real-world old-school fighting video game,” Richard tells us. “The player chooses an opponent and challenges them to a sparring match. Each player has a certain number of health points that decrement each time the other player lands an attack. Instead of clicking a joystick or mouse button, the player hits a heavy bag. The strength of the hit is measured by an accelerometer. [A Raspberry] Pi translates the acceleration of the heavy bag (measured in G) into the number of health points to decrement from the opponent. [Raspberry] Pi runs your opponent, which attacks you — you don’t actually get hit, but your health points decrement each time they attack.”

Use a heavy bag to get a good workout and a good idea of your punch strength, Rocky IV style

It’s a remarkably simple idea, and it started off as just an app that used a smartphone’s accelerometer. Translating that to a Raspberry Pi is just a case of adding an accelerometer of its own.

3… 2… 1… Fight!

“I realised it could be used to measure the overall strength of a punch, but it was hard to know how that would translate into an actual punch, hence the idea to use a heavy bag,” Richard explains. “This appealed to me as I studied karate and always enjoyed hitting a heavy bag. It is always difficult to gauge your own strength, so I thought it would be useful to actually measure the force. The project ended up consuming a good amount of time, as you would expect when you are learning.”



Finish them?

While Pi Fighter is already used at events, Richard says “[i]t needs a bit of tuning and coding to get everything right […]. It could be a never-ending project for me. You can always fix things and make the software more robust, the user interface more usable, etc. It isn’t mass-rollout ready, but I have never had it fail at a key moment such as presenting at a Raspberry Jam or Raspberry Pint. It (mostly) gets better every time I put some effort into it.”

If you find yourself at Raspberry Pint in London, make sure to do a bit of a warm-up first — you might find yourself head-to-head in a boxing match with a Jedi. Here’s hoping they don’t know Teräs Käsi.

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Raspberry Pi in space!

We love ‘Raspberry Pi + space’ stuff. There, I’ve said it. No taksies backsies.

From high-altitude balloon projects transporting Raspberry Pis to near space, to our two Astro Pi units living aboard the International Space Station, we simply can’t get enough.

Seriously, if you’ve created anything space-related using a Raspberry Pi, please tell us!

Capturing Earth from low orbit

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) sent a Raspberry Pi Zero to space as part of their Demonstration of Technology (DoT-1) satellite, launched aboard a Soyuz rocket in July.

Earth captured from Low Earth Orbit by a Raspberry Pi

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?

So, not that we’re complaining, but why did they send the Raspberry Pi Zero to space to begin with? Well, why not? As SSTL state:

Whilst the primary objective of the 17.5kg self-funded DoT-1 satellite is to demonstrate SSTL’s new Core Data Handling System (Core-DHS), accommodation was made available for some additional experimental payloads including the Raspberry Pi camera experiment which was designed and implemented in conjunction with the Surrey Space Centre.

Essentially, if you can fit a Raspberry Pi into your satellite, you should.


Managing Director of SSTL Sarah Parker went on to say that “the success of the Raspberry Pi camera experiment is an added bonus which we can now evaluate for future missions where it could be utilised for spacecraft ‘selfies’ to check the operation of key equipments, and also for outreach activities.”

SSTL’s very snazzy-looking Demonstration of Technology (DoT-1) satellite

The onboard Raspberry Pi Zero was equipped with a Raspberry Pi Camera Module and a DesignSpark M12 Mount Lens. Image data captured on the space-bound Raspberry Pi was sent back to the SSTL ground station via the Core-DHS.

So, have you sent a Raspberry Pi to space? Or anywhere else we wouldn’t expect a Raspberry Pi to go? Let us know in the comments!

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Say hello to Isaac Computer Science

We are delighted to co-launch Isaac Computer Science, a new online platform for teachers and students of A level Computer Science.

Introducing Isaac Computer Science

Introducing the new Isaac Computer Science online learning platform and calendar of free events for students and teachers. Be the first to know about new features and content on the platform: Twitter – ncce.io/ytqstw Instagram – ncce.io/ytqsig Facebook – ncce.io/ytqsfb If you are a teacher, you may also be interested in our free online training courses for GCSE Computer Science teachers.

The project is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the University of Cambridge, and is funded by the Department for Education’s National Centre for Computing Education programme.

Isaac Computer Science

Isaac Computer Science gives you access to a huge range of online learning materials for the classroom, homework, and revision — all for free.

The platform’s resources are mapped to the A level specifications in England (including the AQA and OCR exam boards). You’ll be able to set assignments for your students, have the platform mark it for you, and be confident that the content is relevant and high quality. We are confident that this will save you time in planning lessons and setting homework.

“Computer Science is a relatively small subject area and teachers across the country often work alone without the support of colleagues. Isaac Computer Science will build a teaching and learning community to support teachers at all levels and will offer invaluable support to A level students in their learning journey. As an experienced teacher, I am very excited to have the opportunity to work on this project.”
– Diane Dowling, Isaac Computer Science Learning Manager and former teacher

And that’s not all! To further support you, we are also running free student workshops and teacher CPD events at universities and schools around England. Tickets for the events are available to book through the Isaac Computer Science website.

“Isaac Computer Science helped equip me with the skills to teach A level, and ran a great workshop at one of their recent Discovery events using the micro:bit and the Kitronik :MOVE mini. This is a session that I’ll definitely be using again and again.”
 – James Spencer, Computer Science teacher at St Martin’s School

A teacher works with her students at our recent Discovery event in Cambridge.

Why sign up?

Isaac Computer Science provides:

  • High-quality materials written by experienced teachers
  • Resources mapped to the AQA and OCR specifications
  • CPD events for teachers
  • Workshops for students

Isaac Computer Science allows you to:

  • Plan lessons around high-quality content pages, thus saving time
  • Select and set self-marking homework questions
  • Pinpoint areas to work on with your students
  • Manage students’ progress in your personal markbook

Start using Isaac Computer Science today:

  • Sign up at isaaccomputerscience.org
  • Request a teacher account and register your students
  • Start using the platform in your classroom!

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A rather snazzy Raspberry Pi 4 wallpaper for your phone and computer

Fiacre took a rather snazzy photo of a Raspberry Pi 4, and he liked it so much that he set it as his iPhone’s wallpaper.

And we liked it so much that we asked him to produce size variants so we could share them with all of you.

You’ll find three variants of the image below: smartphone, 1920×1200, 4K. Just click on the appropriate image to be redirected to the full-resolution version.



Standard rules apply: these images are for personal use only and are not to be sold.

Should we create more snazzy wallpapers of Raspberry Pi? Lets us know in the comments, and we’ll get Fiacre to work.

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Save the date for Coolest Projects 2020

Coolest Projects is the world’s leading technology fair for young people. It’s our event series where young creators, makers, and innovators share their projects with fellow creators and the public, and they explore each others’ work. And it’s awesome!

Launching Coolest Projects 2020!

Coolest Projects is a world-leading showcase that enables and inspires the next generation of digital creators and innovators to present the projects that they have created with code. Find out more: http://coolestprojects.org/ Sign up for the latest Coolest Projects news: http://eepurl.com/dG4UJb

Coolest Projects 2020

In 2020, we’ll run three Coolest Projects events:

  • USA, Discovery Cube Orange County, CA: 7 March 2020
  • UK, The Sharp Project, Manchester: 4 April 2020
  • International, RDS Main Hall, Dublin, Ireland: 6 June 2020

Mark the dates of the UK, USA, and International events in your diary today! Our community also runs regional Coolest Projects events in Belgium, Malaysia, and beyond.

Get involved in Coolest Projects

Visit a Coolest Projects event

You’ll get to see first-hand what the next generation is creating with technology. Young people in our community are brimming with new, cutting-edge ideas and enjoy expressing their creativity through making digital projects.

You’ll also get to flex your own technical and maker skills: our Coolest Projects events have a Discovery Zone, where the maker community and local organisations run unique, hands-on activities!

Support a young person to participate

If you’re an educator, maker, or tech professional, you can support young people you know to participate, as individuals or in teams with their friends. Whether you know young tech enthusiasts through Code Club, CoderDojo, another club, or your school — anyone aged 7–18 can enter Coolest Projects, and you can help them get showcase-ready!

Check out our ‘How to make a project’ workbook, which is perfect for supporting young people through the project building process step by step.

Encourage your company to become a partner or give a donation

Help us continue to make Coolest Projects events free to enter and attend for young people so they can dream big and be inspired by their peers’ creations!

Email partners@raspberrypi.org to learn more about supporting Coolest Projects.

Stay up to date

Project registration and visitor tickets aren’t available just yet — sign up to the Coolest Projects newsletter to be the first to hear when we launch them!

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Control a vintage Roland pen plotter with Raspberry Pi

By refitting a vintage Roland DG DXY-990 pen plotter using Raspberry Pi, the members of Liege Hackerspace in Belgium have produced a rather nifty build that writes out every tweet mentioning a specific hashtag.

Liege Hackerspace member u/iooner first shared an image of the plotter yesterday, and fellow Redditors called for video of the project in action immediately.

Watch the full video here. And to see the code code for the project, visit the Liege Hackerspace GitHub.

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Picademy Bytes: free physical computing training for teachers

Five years ago, the Raspberry Pi Foundation recognised a need for free, high-quality CPD for educators. In response, we started running Picademy, a two-day training event that provides educators all over the UK and North America with the knowledge and skills they need to teach computing with confidence, creativity, and excitement.

We are delighted to now bring you a new free training programme called Picademy Bytes for teachers in the UK who are unable to attend the two-day Picademy events. Picademy Bytes training sessions are 60- to 90-minute community-led events taking place at various UK locations, led by Community Trainers who we ourselves have inducted.

The aim of Picademy Bytes is to highlight the value of delivering curriculum objectives through physical computing activities: the programme provides teachers with the opportunity to experiment with physical computing in a short, face-to-face training session. Teachers can then take what they’ve learned back to their schools, to use or adapt for their own Computing lessons.

Introducing our Community Trainers

In June this year, we invited our first four Community Trainers to attend an induction session, where we introduced them to the resources for their Picademy Bytes sessions, and they gave us feedback on our plans and the session content.


All four Community Trainers are teachers and Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, having attended Picademy in the past. They volunteered to become Community Trainers because they are enthusiastic to help other teachers in their local areas to deliver exciting learning experiences for their students.

The first Picademy Bytes session took place in July at the Computer Science in Schools Conference 2019 at Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent, and most attendees were secondary school teachers. Attendees described the session as “well-balanced [between] theory and practical” and said that it was “very informative and provided ideas for the classroom”.

Look out for Picademy Bytes sessions in a city near you!

Upcoming Picademy Bytes sessions will soon be listed on the Computing at School website and on the Raspberry Pi Foundation website. If you are based in or near Belfast, Bradford, South Wales, Hull, London, North Devon, or Plymouth, look out for events near you from this month! And there will be plenty more events in locations across the UK after that. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Controlling a boom lift with a Raspberry Pi

Do you have a spare Raspberry Pi lying around? And a Bluetooth games controller? Do you have access to boom lifts or other heavy machinery?

Well, then we most certainly (do not) have the project for you.

Allow us to introduce what is (possibly, probably, hopefully) the world’s first Raspberry Pi–controlled boom lift. Weighing in at 13,000lb, this is the epitome of DON’T try this at home.

Please don’t!

Raspberry Pi-controlled boom lift

Shared on Reddit over the weekend, u/Ccundiff12’s project received many an upvote and concerned comment, but, as the poster explains, hacking the boom is a personal project for personal use to fix a specific problem — thankfully not something built for the sake of having some fun.

Meet STRETCH. Circa 1989 Genie Boom that I bought (cheap) from a neighbor. I use it to trim trees around my property. Its biggest problem was that it always got stuck. It’s not really an off-road vehicle. It used to take two people to move it around… one to drive the lift, and the other to push it with the tractor when it lost traction. The last time it got stuck, I asked my wife to assist by driving one of the two…….. the next day I started splicing into the control system. Now I can push with the tractor & run the boom via remote!

Visit the original Reddit post for more information on the build. And remember: please do not try this at home.

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Recreate Super Sprint’s top-down racing | Wireframe issue 21

Making player and computer-controlled cars race round a track isn’t as hard as it sounds. Mark Vanstone explains all.

The original Super Sprint arcade machine had three steering wheels and three accelerator pedals.

From Gran Trak 10 to Super Sprint

Decades before the advent of more realistic racing games such as Sega Rally or Gran Turismo, Atari produced a string of popular arcade racers, beginning with Gran Trak 10 in 1974 and gradually updated via the Sprint series, which appeared regularly through the seventies and eighties. By 1986, Atari’s Super Sprint allowed three players to compete at once, avoiding obstacles and collecting bonuses as they careened around the tracks.

The original arcade machine was controlled with steering wheels and accelerator pedals, and computer-controlled cars added to the racing challenge. Tracks were of varying complexity, with some featuring flyover sections and shortcuts, while oil slicks and tornadoes posed obstacles to avoid. If a competitor crashed really badly, a new car would be airlifted in by helicopter.

Code your own Super Sprint

So how can we make our own Super Sprint-style racing game with Pygame Zero? To keep this example code short and simple, I’ve created a simple track with a few bends. In the original game, the movement of the computer-controlled cars would have followed a set of coordinates round the track, but as computers have much more memory now, I have used a bitmap guide for the cars to follow. This method produces a much less predictable movement for the cars as they turn right and left based on the shade of the track on the guide.

Four Formula One cars race around the track. Collisions between other cars and the sides of the track are detected.

With Pygame Zero, we can write quite a short piece of code to deal with both the player car and the automated ones, but to read pixels from a position on a bitmap, we need to borrow a couple of objects directly from Pygame: we import the Pygame image and Color objects and then load our guide bitmaps. One is for the player to restrict movement to the track, and the other is for guiding the computer-controlled cars around the track.

Three bitmaps are used for the track. One’s visible, and the other two are guides for the cars.

The cars are Pygame Zero Actors, and are drawn after the main track image in the draw() function. Then all the good stuff happens in the update() function. The player’s car is controlled with the up and down arrows for speed, and the left and right arrows to change the direction of movement. We then check to see if any cars have collided with each other. If a crash has happened, we change the direction of the car and make it reverse a bit. We then test the colour of the pixel where the car is trying to move to. If the colour is black or red (the boundaries), the car turns away from the boundary.

The car steering is based on the shade of a pixel’s colour read from the guide bitmap. If it’s light, the car will turn right, if it’s dark, the car will turn left, and if it’s mid-grey, the car continues straight ahead. We could make the cars stick more closely to the centre by making them react quickly, or make them more random by adjusting the steering angle more slowly. A happy medium would be to get the cars mostly sticking to the track but being random enough to make them tricky to overtake.

Our code will need a lot of extra elements to mimic Atari’s original game, but this short snippet shows how easily you can get a top-down racing game working in Pygame Zero:

Here’s Mark’s code, which gets a Super Sprint-style racer running in Python. To get it working on your system, you’ll first need to install Pygame Zero. And to download the full code, go here.

Get your copy of Wireframe issue 21

You can read more features like this one in Wireframe issue 21, available now at Tesco, WHSmith, and all good independent UK newsagents.

Or you can buy Wireframe directly from Raspberry Pi Press — delivery is available worldwide. And if you’d like a handy digital version of the magazine, you can also download issue 21 for free in PDF format.

Make sure to follow Wireframe on Twitter and Facebook for updates and exclusive offers and giveaways. Subscribe on the Wireframe website to save up to 49% compared to news stand pricing!

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Raspberry Pi 4: a full desktop replacement?

The MagPi magazine puts Raspberry Pi 4 to the ultimate test as writer and all-round tech tinkerer PJ Evans uses it for a week as his desktop computer.

When Raspberry Pi 4 was launched earlier in 2019, the significant improvements in processor speed, data throughput, and graphics handling lead to an interesting change of direction for this once humble small computer. Although it’s impressive that you can run a full Linux operating system on a $35 device, a lot of people were just using their Raspberry Pi to get Scratch or Python IDLE up and running. Many people were skipping the graphical side altogether and using smaller models, such as Raspberry Pi Zero, for projects previously covered by Arduino and other microcontrollers.

Raspberry Pi desktop experience

Raspberry Pi 4 was different. Tellingly, the Raspberry Pi Foundation released a new all-in-one kit and named it the Desktop Kit. For the first time truly in Raspberry Pi history, the new model was considered powerful enough to be used as a daily computer without any significant compromise. Challenge accepted. We asked PJ Evans to spend a week using a Raspberry Pi 4 as his only machine. Here’s what happened.

Day 1 | Monday

Decisions, decisions

Our new favourite single-board computer comes in a selection of RAM sizes: 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB. Given a price difference of £20 between the 1GB and 4GB versions, it made sense to go right for the top specification. That’s the version included in the official Desktop Kit that I went out and bought for £105 (inc. VAT) at the official Raspberry Pi store; it normally retails for $120 plus local taxes. My last laptop was £1900. I’m not suggesting that the two can be reasonably compared in terms of performance, but £1795 minus the cost of a monitor is a difference worth remarking upon.

Back at the office, I inspected the contents. For your money you get: a 4GB version of Raspberry Pi 4, thoughtfully already installed in the new official case; the official keyboard and mouse; the new USB-C power supply; a 16GB microSD card preloaded with the Raspbian Buster operating system; and a copy of The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide 252-page book. It’s very well packaged and presented, with little plastic waste. The book is the icing on the cake if you are looking at this set for a young person’s first computer, short-circuiting the ‘now what do I do?’ stage. What pleased me, in particular, was the inclusion of two micro-HDMI cables in the kit, allowing me to set up a dual-screen system without delay.

First tests

I set up my new workstation next to my existing laptop, with two 1080p monitors that only had DVI connectors, so I had to get a couple of £2 adapters and an additional cable to get sound out of the audio jack of my Raspberry Pi. Time for an initial test-drive. Booting up into Raspbian Buster was quick, about ten seconds, and connection to WiFi easy. There’s no doubting the feel of the speed improvements. Yes, I’ve read all the benchmark tests, but I wanted to know how that translates to user experience. This new kit does not disappoint.

Raspbian has matured impressively as an OS. For my daily desktop scenario, the jewel in the crown is Chromium: having such a capable web browser is what makes this whole experiment feasible. Others have upped their game, too: Firefox has come a long way, and many other browsers are now available, such as Vivaldi. A check of some of my most visited sites showed Chromium to be just as capable as Chrome on my regular machine. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t as snappy and I hit a few bumps, but we’ll get to that.

A day of impressions

I’m no expert when it comes to GPUs, but I was impressed with the dual-monitor support. The setup worked first time and didn’t seem to have any detrimental effect on the machine’s performance. I was expecting slow window drawing or things getting ‘stuck’, but this wasn’t the case.

By the end of the first day, I was getting used to the keyboard and mouse too. They are a nice mixture of being both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The keyboard comes with a three-port hub, so you can connect the mouse if you wish. It does not have the build quality and precision of my daily wireless keyboard and trackpad, but for a fraction of the price, I was surprised how much I got for my money. By the end of the week, I’d grown quite fond of it.

Day 2 | Tuesday

Back to basics…


If you’d like to see what PJ got up to for the rest of his week spent using Raspberry Pi as a desktop replacement, head over to The MagPi magazine’s website, where you can either buy the magazine with international home delivery or download the PDF for FREE!

The MagPi magazine is also available from most high street newsagents in the UK, or from the Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge.

What we’re trying to say, dear reader, is that there is absolutely no reason for you not to read the rest of this article. And when you have, let us know what you thought of it in the comments below.

And while we have your attention, here’s the latest video from The MagPi — a teaser of their review for the rather nifty RockyBorg, available now from PiBorg.

RockyBorg: the £99 Raspberry Pi robot!

Power. Performance. Pint-sized. The new RockyBorg has it all. Read our review in The MagPi 85: https://magpi.cc/get85 Would you like a FREE #RaspberryPi? Subscribe today to twelve months print subscription! You can see all our subscription offers on The MagPi magazine website: https://magpi.cc/subscribe

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Help us make it easier for you to design products with Raspberry Pi

We want to improve the way we support companies that design with Raspberry Pi computers, and we need your help to do it.

Raspberry Pi’s success is thanks to the community that exists around it.  When we launched Raspberry Pi 4, our most powerful computer yet, we gave our community the chance to ask our engineers all about the new product.

A shiny Raspberry Pi 4 on a flat white surface, viewed at an angle

Now we’d like to turn the tables and ask you some questions as we work to improve the support we offer to people and organisations that design using Raspberry Pi.

If you have experience of designing products or industrial solutions that use Raspberry Pi, we would love to hear from you.

Raspberry Pi in products

Raspberry Pi has been used to power products from Compute Module-based industrial controllers made by Kunbus

Three smart, compact orange and grey RevPi Core 3 enclosures mounted on a din rail

…to Raspberry Pi-based washing machines with Raspberry Pi touchscreen displays from Marathon.

Sleek-looking charcoal grey washing machine with a dark red door trim and a large colour display screen

Organisations are increasingly using various kinds of Raspberry Pi computer to power products and solutions, and we want to do more to support designers.

Please help us!

If you have experience as a design consultancy that uses Raspberry Pi computers in products, or if you have used a designer to build a product that includes a Raspberry Pi, we would love to talk to you about it. You will help shape what we offer in the future, and make designing products with Raspberry Pi simple, quick, and powerful.

Get in touch

If you use Raspberry Pi in products or in industrial solutions, I want to talk to you. Please fill in this form with a few details of your experience so we can talk more.

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Keynote speeches from Scratch Conference Europe 2019

This weekend, the Raspberry Pi Foundation hosted Scratch Conference Europe 2019 at Churchill College in Cambridge, UK.

Framing the busy weekend’s schedule were presentations from:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab’s Mitchel Resnick, co-inventor of Scratch himself
  • Science presenter Neil Monterio
  • Raspberry Pi favourite, the fire-loving Fran Scott

Since not everyone was able to travel to Cambridge to attend the conference, we wanted to make sure you’re not missing out, so we filmed their presentations, for you to watch at your leisure.

For the full Scratch Conference experience, we suggest gathering together a group of like-minded people to watch the videos and discuss your thoughts. Alternatively, use #ScratchEurope on Twitter to join in the conversation with the conference attendees online.

Enjoy!

Mitch Resnick presents at Scratch Conference Europe 2019

Mitch Resnick addresses the attendees of Scratch Conference Europe, hosted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK on 24 August 2019.

Neil Monteiro presents at Scratch Conference Europe 2019

Neil Monteiro closes the show on day two of Scratch Conference Europe, hosted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK on 24 August 2019. In this show, Neil takes the audience on a journey into a dangerous labyrinth…in code!

Fran Scott presents at Scratch Conference Europe 2019

Fran Scott closes the show on day three of Scratch Conference Europe, hosted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK on 25 August 2019.

 

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Build a xylophone-playing robot | HackSpace magazine #22

HackSpace magazine issue 22 is out now, and our favourite tutorial this month will show you how to make this, a xylophone-playing robot!

Build a glockenspiel-playing robot with HackSpace magazine

Why spend years learning to play a musical instrument when you could program a robot to do it for you? This month HackSpace magazine, we show you how to build a glockenspiel-playing robot. Download the latest issue of HackSpace for free: http://rpf.io/hs22yt Follow HackSpace on Instagram: http://rpf.io/hsinstayt

If programming your own instrument-playing robot isn’t for you, never fear, for HackSpace magazine is packed full of other wonderful makes and ideas, such as:

  • A speaker built into an old wine barrel
  • Free-form LEDs
  • Binary knitwear
  • A Raspberry Pi–powered time machine
  • Mushroom lights
  • A…wait, hold on, did I just say a Raspberry Pi–powered time machine? Hold on…let me just download the FREE PDF and have a closer look. Page 14, a WW2 radio broadcast time machine built by Adam Clark. “I bought a very old, non-working valve radio, and replaced the internals with a Raspberry Pi Zero on a custom 3D-printed chassis.” NICE!


Honestly, this month’s HackSpace is so full of content that it would take me all day to go through everything. But, don’t take my word for it — try it yourself.

HackSpace magazine is out now, available in print from your local newsagent or from the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge, online from Raspberry Pi Press, or as a free PDF download. Click here to find out more and, while you’re at it, why not have a look at the subscription offers available, including the 12-month deal that comes with a free Adafruit Circuit Playground!

Author’s note

Yes, I know it’s a glockenspiel in the video.

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It’s GCSE results day!

Today is GCSE results day, and with it comes the usual amount of excitement and trepidation as thousands of young people in the UK find out whether they got the grades they wanted. So here’s a massive CONGRATULATIONS from everyone at the Raspberry Pi Foundation to all the students out there who have worked so hard to get their GCSEs, A levels, B-Techs, IBs, and a host of other qualifications.

We also want to highlight the efforts of the amazing teachers who have spent countless hours thinking up new ways to bring their subjects to life and inspire the next generation.

Looking at the initial data from the Department for Education, it’s clear that:

  • The number of students entering the Computer Science GCSE has gone up by 7.6%, so this is the sixth year running that the subject has gained popularity — great news!
  • The number of girls entering the Computer Science GCSE has grown by 14.5% compared to last year!
  • The proportion of Computer Science GCSE students achieving top grades (9 to 7) has gone up, and there’s been an even bigger increase in the proportion achieving a good pass (9 to 4) — amazing!

Views from teachers

From L to R: Rebecca Franks, Allen Heard, Ben Hall, Carrie Anne Philbin

I caught up with four former teachers on our team to reflect on these findings and their own experiences of results days…

What thoughts and emotions are going through your head as a teacher on results day?

Ben: It’s certainly a nerve-wracking time! You hope that your students have reached the potential that you know that they are capable of. You log onto the computer the second you wake up to see if you’ve got access to the exam boards results page yet. It was always great being there to see their faces, to give them a high five, and to support them with working out their options going forward.

Rebecca: I think that head teachers want you to be worried about targets and whether you’ve met them, but as a teacher, when you look at each individual students’ results, you see their journey, and you know how much effort they’ve put in. You are just really proud of how well they have done, and it’s lovely to have those post-results conversations and celebrate with them. It makes it all worth it.

Allen: I liken the feeling to that of an expectant father! You have done as much as you can to make sure things run smoothly, you’ve tried to keep all those involved calm, and now the moment is here and you just want everything to be OK.

Carrie Anne: As a teacher, I always felt both nerves and excitement for results day, probably more so than my students did. Sleepless nights in the run-up to the big day were common! But I always enjoyed seeing my students, who I’d worked with since they were youngsters, see the culmination of their hard work into something useful. I always felt proud of them for how far they’d come.

There has been an increased uptake of students taking computing-related subjects at GCSE since last year. What do you think about this?

Ben: It’s great news and shows that schools are realising how important the subject is to prepare our young people for the future workplace.

Carrie Anne: It’s a sign that our message — that all students should have access to a Computing qualification of rigour, and that there is a willing and ready audience hungry for the opportunity to study Computing at a deeper level — is making traction. My hope is to see this number increase as teachers take part in the free National Centre for Computing Education professional development and certification over the coming years.

Rebecca: I think it’s a step in the right direction, but we definitely have a long way to go. We must make sure that computing is at the forefront of any curriculum model in our secondary schools, which is why the National Centre for Computing Education is so important. In particular, we must support schools in ensuring that KS3 computing is given the time it needs to give students the grounding for GCSE.

Allen: I agree with Rebecca: more needs to be done about teacher training and helping schools see the overall benefit to students in undertaking such subjects. Schools that are investing time in nurturing these subjects in their curriculum provision are seeing them become more popular and enjoying success. Patience is the key for senior leadership teams, and teachers need support and to have confidence in their ability to continue to deliver the subject.

Why is it important that more students learn about computing?

Rebecca: Computing feeds into so much of our everyday lives, and we must prepare our young people for a world that doesn’t exist yet. Computing teaches you logical thinking and problem-solving. These skills are transferable and can be used in all sorts of situations. Computing also teaches you essential digital literacy skills that can help you keep safe whilst using online tools.

Ben: For me, it’s really important that young people pick this subject to help them understand the world around them. They’ll hopefully then be able to see the potential of computing as a power for good and harness it, rather than becoming passive consumers of technology.

Carrie Anne: Following on from what Ben said, I also think it’s important that technology developed in the future reflects the people and industries using it. The tech industry needs to become more diverse in its workforce, and non-technical fields will begin to use more technology in the coming years. If we equip young people with a grounding in computing, they will be equipped to enter these fields and find solutions to technical solutions without relying on a small technical elite.

Imagine I’m a GCSE student who has just passed my Computer Science exams. What resources should I look at if I want to learn more about computing with the Raspberry Pi Foundation for free?

Rebecca: Isaac Computer Science would be the best place to start, because it supports students through their A level Computer Science. If you wanted to experiment and try some physical computing, then you could take a look at the Projects page of the Raspberry Pi Foundation website. You can filter this page by ‘Software type: Python’ and find some ideas to keep you occupied!

Allen: First and foremost, I would advise you to keep your hard-earned coding skills on point, as moving on to the next level of complexity can be a shock. Now is the time to start building on your already sound knowledge and get prepared for A level Computer Science in September. Isaac Computer Science would be a great place to start to undertake some further learning over the summer and prime yourself for further study.

Ben: Same as Rebecca and Allen, I’d be telling you to get started with Isaac Computer Science too. The resources that are being provided for free are second to none, and will really help you get a good feel for what A level Computer Science is all about.

Carrie Anne: Beyond the Raspberry Pi projects site and Isaac Computer Science, I’d recommend getting some face-to-face experience. Every year the Python community holds a conference that’s open to everyone. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills. PyConUK 2019 is taking place in September and has bursaries to support people in full-time education to attend.

We’ve been working on providing support for secondary and GCSE teachers as part of the National Centre for Computing Education this year. Could you talk about the support we’ve got available?

Allen: We’re producing resources to cover the whole range of topics that appear in all the Computing/Computer Science specifications. The aim of these resources is to provide teachers — both experienced and new to the subject — with the support they need to deliver quality, engaging lessons. Founded on sound pedagogical principles and created by a number of well-established teachers, these resources will help reduce workload and increase productivity for teachers, and increase engagement of students. This will ultimately result in some fantastic out-turns for schools, as well as developing confident computing teachers along the way.

Rebecca: As Allen explained, we are busy creating new, free teaching resources for KS3 and GCSE. The units will cover the national curriculum and beyond, and the lessons will be fully resourced. They will be accessible to teachers with varying levels of experience, and there will be lots of support along the way through online courses and face-to-face training if teachers want to know more. Teachers can already take our ‘CS Accelerator’ programme, which is extremely popular and has excellent reviews.

Thanks for your time, everyone!

How was your GCSE results day? Are your students, or young people you know, receiving their results today? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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