Celebrating the community: Cian

Today we bring you the sixth film in our series of inspirational community stories. It’s wonderful to share how people all across the world are getting creative with tech and solving problems that matter to them.

Cian Martin Bohan.

Our next community story comes from Drogheda, Ireland, where a group of programmers set up the second ever CoderDojo coding club for young people. One of that Dojo’s attendees was Cian Martin Bohan, whose story we’re sharing today.

“I can’t create anything I want in real life, but I can create anything I want on a computer.”

Cian Martin Bohan

Watch Cian’s video to find out how this keen programmer went from his first experience with coding at his local CoderDojo as an 11-year-old, to landing a Software Engineering apprenticeship at Google.

Cian, a boy at his first CoderDojo coding club session.
Cian at his very first CoderDojo session

Meet Cian

Cian (20) vividly remembers the first time he heard about CoderDojo as a shy 11-year-old: he initially told his dad he felt too nervous to attend. What Cian couldn’t have known back then was that attending CoderDojo would set him on an exciting journey of creative digital making and finding life-long friends.

Help us celebrate Cian by liking and sharing his story on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Right from the beginning, the CoderDojo gave Cian space to make friends and develop his coding skills and his curiosity about creating things with technology. He started to attend the Dojo regularly, and before long he had created his own website about the planets in our solar system with basic CSS and HTML.  

“I made a website that talked about the planets, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. In fact, I actually still have that website.”

Cian Martin Bohan

In over 6 years of being part of his CoderDojo community, Cian was able to share his passion for programming with others and grow his confidence.

From meeting like-minded peers and developing apps and websites, to serving as a youth member on the Digital Youth Council, Cian embraced the many experiences that CoderDojo opened up for him. They were all of great benefit when he decided to apply for an apprenticeship at Google.

As someone who didn’t follow the university route of education, Cian’s time at CoderDojo and the mentors he met there had a profound impact on his life and his career path. His CoderDojo mentors always encouraged Cian to learn new skills and follow his interests, and in this way they not only helped him reach his current position at Google, but also instilled in him a steady desire to always keep learning.

The future is limitless for Cian, and we cannot wait to hear what he does next.

Help us celebrate Cian, and inspire other young people to discover coding and digital making as a passion, by liking and sharing his story on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Young people can name a piece of space history with Astro Pi Mission Zero

Your young people don’t need to wait to become astronauts to be part of a space mission! In Mission Zero, the free beginners’ coding activity of the European Astro Pi Challenge, young people can create a simple computer program to send to the International Space Station (ISS) today.

The International Space Station.
The International Space Station, where your young people’s Mission Zero code could run soon! © ESA–L. Parmitano, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

This year, young people taking part in Astro Pi Mission Zero have the historic chance to help name the special Raspberry Pi computers we are sending up to the ISS for the Astro Pi Challenge. Their voices will decide the names of these unique pieces of space exploration hardware.

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in the ISS's cupola.
Samantha Cristoforetti is one of the ESA astronauts who will be on the ISS when young people’s Mission Zero code runs. © ESA

Your young people can become part of a space mission today!

The European Astro Pi Challenge is a collaboration by us and ESA Education. Astro Pi Mission Zero is free, open to all young people up to age 19 from eligible countries*, and it’s designed for beginner coders.

Logo of Mission Zero, part of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

You can support participants easily, whether at home, in the classroom, or in a youth club. Simply sign up as a mentor and let your young people follow the step-by-step instructions we provide (in 19 European languages!) for writing their Mission Zero code online. Young people can complete Mission Zero in around an hour, and they don’t need any previous coding experience.

A mother and daughter do a coding activity together at a laptop at home.

Mission Zero is the perfect coding activity for parents and their children at home, for STEM or Scouts club leaders and attendees, and for teachers and students who are new to computer programming. You don’t need any special tech for Mission Zero participants. Any computer with a web browser and internet connection works for Mission Zero, because everything is done online.

We need young people to help name the Raspberry Pis we’re sending to space

Mission Zero participants follow our step-by-step instructions to create a simple program that takes a humidity reading on board the ISS and displays it for the astronauts — together with the participants’ own unique messages. And as part of their messages, they can vote for the name of the new hardware for the Astro Pi Challenge, hardware with Raspberry Pi computers at its heart.

Astro Pi MK II hardware.
The shiny new Raspberry Pi-powered hardware for the Astro Pi Challenge, which will replace the Raspberry Pi-powered Astro Pi units that have run Astro Pi participants’ code on board the ISS every year since 2015.

The new Astro Pi hardware, which will travel up in a rocket to the ISS on 21 December, is so new that these special augmented computers don’t even have names yet. Participants in Astro Pi Mission Zero get to vote for a name inspired by our list of ten renowned European scientists. Their vote will be part of the message they send to space.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon spits fire as it lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX rocket will deliver the special Raspberry Pi computers to the ISS. © SpaceX

What do your young people want to say in space?

Your young people’s messages to the ISS astronauts can say anything they like (apart from swear words, of course). Maybe they want to send some encouraging words to the astronauts or tell them a joke. They can even design a cool pixel art image to show on the Astro Pi hardware’s display:

Pixel art from Astro Pi Mission Zero participants.
Some of the pixel art from last year’s Astro Pi Mission Zero participants.

Whatever else they code for their Mission Zero entry, they’re supporting the astronauts with their important work on board the ISS. Since Mission Zero participants tell the Astro Pi hardware to read and display the humidity level inside the ISS, they provide helpful information for the astronauts as they go about their tasks.

Their own place in space history

After a participant’s Mission Zero code has run and their message has been shown in the ISS, we’ll send you a special certificate for them so you can commemorate their space mission.

The certificate will feature their name, the exact date and time their code ran, and a world map to mark the place on Earth above which the ISS was while their message was visible up there in space.

10 key things about Astro Pi Mission Zero

  1. It’s young people’s unique chance to be part of a real space mission
  2. Participation is free
  3. Participants send the ISS astronauts their own unique message
  4. This year only, participants can help name the two special Raspberry Pi computers that are travelling up to the ISS
  5. Mission Zero is open to young people up to age 19 who live in eligible countries (more about eligibility here)
  6. It’s a beginners’ coding activity with step-by-step instructions, available in 19 languages
  7. Completing the activity takes about one hour — at home, in the classroom, or in a Scouts or coding club session
  8. The activity can be done online in a web browser on any computer
  9. Participants will receive a special certificate to help celebrate their space mission
  10. Mission Zero is open until 18 March 2022

If you don’t want to let any young people in your life miss out on this amazing opportunity, sign up as their Mission Zero mentor today.


* The European Astro Pi Challenge is run as a collaboration by us at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and ESA Education. That’s why participants need to be from an ESA Member State, or from Slovenia, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, or Malta, which have agreements with ESA.

If you live elsewhere, it’s possible to partner with Mission Zero mentors and young people in an eligible country. You can work together to support the young people to form international Mission Zero teams that write programs together.

If you live elsewhere and cannot partner with people in an eligible country, Mission Zero is still an awesome and inspiring project for your young people to try out coding. While these young people’s code unfortunately won’t run on the ISS, they will receive a certificate to mark their efforts.

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5750 Scottish children code to raise awareness of climate change with Code Club

This month, the team behind our Code Club programme supported nearly 6000 children across Scotland to “code against climate change” during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

“The scale of what we have achieved is outstanding. We have supported over 5750 young learners to code projects that are both engaging and meaningful to their conversations on climate.”

Louise Foreman, Education Scotland (Digital Skills team)

Creative coding to raise awareness of environmental issues

Working with teams from Education Scotland, and with e-Sgoil, our Code Club team hosted two live online code-along events that saw learners from 235 schools across Scotland come together to code and learn about protecting the environment.

“This type of event at this scale would not have been possible before the pandemic. Now joining and learning through live online events is quite normal, thanks to platforms like e-Sgoil’s DYW Live. That said, the success of these code-alongs has been above even our wildest imaginations.”

Peter Murray, Education Scotland (Developing the Young Workforce team)

Classes of young people aged 8 to 14 across Scotland joined the live online code-along through the national GLOW platform and followed Lorna from our Code Club team through a step-by-step project guide to code creative projects with an environmental theme.

At our first session, for beginners, the coding newcomers explored the importance of pollinating insects for the environment. They first learned that a third of the food we eat depends on pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and that these insects are endangered by environmental crises.

Then the young coders celebrated pollinating insects by coding a garden scene filled with butterflies, based on our popular Butterfly garden project guide. This Scratch project introduces beginner coders to loops while they code their animations, and it allows them to get creative and customise the look of their projects. Above are still images of two example animations coded by the young learners.

The second Code Club code-along event was designed for more confident coders. First, learners were asked to consider the impact of plastic in our oceans and reflect on the recent news that around 26,000 tonnes of coronavirus-related plastic waste (such as masks and gloves) has already entered our oceans. To share this message, they then coded a game based on our Save the shark Scratch project guide. In this game, players help a shark swim through the ocean trying to avoid plastic waste, which is dangerous to its health.

Supporting young people’s future together

These two Scotland-wide code-along events for schools were made possible by the long-standing collaboration between Education Scotland and our Code Club team. Over the last five years, our shared mission to grow interest for coding and computer science among children across Scotland has helped Scottish teachers start hundreds of Code Clubs.

A school-age child's written feedback about Code Club: "it was really fun and I enjoyed learning about coding and all of the things i can do in Scratch. I will use Scratch more now."
The school children who participated in the code-along sessions enjoyed themselves a lot, as shown by this note from one of them.

“The code-alongs were the perfect celebration of all the brilliant work we have done together over the years. What better way to demonstrate the importance of computing science to young people than to show them that not only can they use those skills on something important like climate change, but they are also in great company with thousands of other children across Scotland. I am excited about the future.”

Kirsty McFaul, Education Scotland (Technologies team)

Join thousands of teachers around the world who run Code Clubs

We also want to give kudos to the teachers of the 235 schools who helped their learners participate in this Code Club code-along. Thanks to your skills in supporting your learners to participate in online sessions — skills hard-won during school closures — over 5000 young people have been inspired about coding and protecting the planet we all share.

Teachers around the world run Code Clubs for their learners, with the help of our free Code Club resources and support. Find out more about starting a Code Club at your school at www.codeclub.org.

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The machine learning effect: Magic boxes and computational thinking 2.0

How does teaching children and young people about machine learning (ML) differ from teaching them about other aspects of computing? Professor Matti Tedre and Dr Henriikka Vartiainen from the University of Eastern Finland shared some answers at our latest research seminar.

Three smiling young learners in a computing classroom.
We need to determine how to teach young people about machine learning, and what teachers need to know to help their learners form correct mental models.

Their presentation, titled ‘ML education for K-12: emerging trajectories’, had a profound impact on my thinking about how we teach computational thinking and programming. For this blog post, I have simplified some of the complexity associated with machine learning for the benefit of readers who are new to the topic.

a 3D-rendered grey box.
Machine learning is not magic — what needs to change in computing education to make sure learners don’t see ML systems as magic boxes?

Our seminars on teaching AI, ML, and data science

We’re currently partnering with The Alan Turing Institute to host a series of free research seminars about how to teach artificial intelligence (AI) and data science to young people.

The seminar with Matti and Henriikka, the third one of the series, was very well attended. Over 100 participants from San Francisco to Rajasthan, including teachers, researchers, and industry professionals, contributed to a lively and thought-provoking discussion.

Representing a large interdisciplinary team of researchers, Matti and Henriikka have been working on how to teach AI and machine learning for more than three years, which in this new area of study is a long time. So far, the Finnish team has written over a dozen academic papers based on their pilot studies with kindergarten-, primary-, and secondary-aged learners.

Current teaching in schools: classical rule-driven programming

Matti and Henriikka started by giving an overview of classical programming and how it is currently taught in schools. Classical programming can be described as rule-driven. Example features of classical computer programs and programming languages are:

  • A classical language has a strict syntax, and a limited set of commands that can only be used in a predetermined way
  • A classical language is deterministic, meaning we can guarantee what will happen when each line of code is run
  • A classical program is executed in a strict, step-wise order following a known set of rules

When we teach this type of programming, we show learners how to use a deductive problem solving approach or workflow: defining the task, designing a possible solution, and implementing the solution by writing a stepwise program that is then run on a computer. We encourage learners to avoid using trial and error to write programs. Instead, as they develop and test a program, we ask them to trace it line by line in order to predict what will happen when each line is run (glass-box testing).

A list of features of rule-driven computer programming, also included in the text.
The features of classical (rule-driven) programming approaches as taught in computer science education (CSE) (Tedre & Vartiainen, 2021).

Classical programming underpins the current view of computational thinking (CT). Our speakers called this version of CT ‘CT 1.0’. So what’s the alternative Matti and Henriikka presented, and how does it affect what computational thinking is or may become?

Machine learning (data-driven) models and new computational thinking (CT 2.0) 

Rule-based programming languages are not being eradicated. Instead, software systems are being augmented through the addition of machine learning (data-driven) elements. Many of today’s successful software products, such as search engines, image classifiers, and speech recognition programs, combine rule-driven software and data-driven models. However, the workflows for these two approaches to solving problems through computing are very different.

A table comparing problem solving workflows using computational thinking 1.0 versus computational thinking 2.0, info also included in the text.
Problem solving is very different depending on whether a rule-driven computational thinking (CT 1.0) approach or a data-driven computational thinking (CT 2.0) approach is used (Tedre & Vartiainen,2021).

Significantly, while in rule-based programming (and CT 1.0), the focus is on solving problems by creating algorithms, in data-driven approaches, the problem solving workflow is all about the data. To highlight the profound impact this shift in focus has on teaching and learning computing, Matti introduced us to a new version of computational thinking for machine learning, CT 2.0, which is detailed in a forthcoming research paper.

Because of the focus on data rather than algorithms, developing a machine learning model is not at all like developing a classical rule-driven program. In classical programming, programs can be traced, and we can predict what will happen when they run. But in data-driven development, there is no flow of rules, and no absolutely right or wrong answer.

A table comparing conceptual differences between computational thinking 1.0 versus computational thinking 2.0, info also included in the text.
There are major differences between rule-driven computational thinking (CT 1.0) and data-driven computational thinking (CT 2.0), which impact what computing education needs to take into account (Tedre & Vartiainen,2021).

Machine learning models are created iteratively using training data and must be cross-validated with test data. A tiny change in the data provided can make a model useless. We rarely know exactly why the output of an ML model is as it is, and we cannot explain each individual decision that the model might have made. When evaluating a machine learning system, we can only say how well it works based on statistical confidence and efficiency. 

Machine learning education must cover ethical and societal implications 

The ethical and societal implications of computer science have always been important for students to understand. But machine learning models open up a whole new set of topics for teachers and students to consider, because of these models’ reliance on large datasets, the difficulty of explaining their decisions, and their usefulness for automating very complex processes. This includes privacy, surveillance, diversity, bias, job losses, misinformation, accountability, democracy, and veracity, to name but a few.

I see the shift in problem solving approach as a chance to strengthen the teaching of computing in general, because it opens up opportunities to teach about systems, uncertainty, data, and society.

Jane Waite

Teaching machine learning: the challenges of magic boxes and new mental models

For teaching classical rule-driven programming, much time and effort has been put into researching learners’ understanding of what a program will do when it is run. This kind of understanding is called a learner’s mental model or notional machine. An approach teachers often use to help students develop a useful mental model of a program is to hide the detail of how the program works and only gradually reveal its complexity. This approach is described with the metaphor of hiding the detail of elements of the program in a box. 

Data-driven models in machine learning systems are highly complex and make little sense to humans. Therefore, they may appear like magic boxes to students. This view needs to be banished. Machine learning is not magic. We have just not figured out yet how to explain the detail of data-driven models in a way that allows learners to form useful mental models.

An example of a representation of a machine learning model in TensorFlow, an online machine learning tool (Tedre & Vartiainen,2021).

Some existing ML tools aim to help learners form mental models of ML, for example through visual representations of how a neural network works (see Figure 2). But these explanations are still very complex. Clearly, we need to find new ways to help learners of all ages form useful mental models of machine learning, so that teachers can explain to them how machine learning systems work and banish the view that machine learning is magic.

Some tools and teaching approaches for ML education

Matti and Henriikka’s team piloted different tools and pedagogical approaches with different age groups of learners. In terms of tools, since large amounts of data are needed for machine learning projects, our presenters suggested that tools that enable lots of data to be easily collected are ideal for teaching activities. Media-rich education tools provide an opportunity to capture still images, movements, sounds, or sense other inputs and then use these as data in machine learning teaching activities. For example, to create a machine learning–based rock-paper-scissors game, students can take photographs of their hands to train a machine learning model using Google Teachable Machine.

Photos of hands are used to train a machine learning model as part of a project to create a rock-paper-scissors game.
Photos of hands are used to train a Teachable Machine machine learning model as part of a project to create a rock-paper-scissors game (Tedre & Vartiainen, 2021).

Similar to tools that teach classic programming to novice students (e.g. Scratch), some of the new classroom tools for teaching machine learning have a drag-and-drop interface (e.g. Cognimates). Using such tools means that in lessons, there can be less focus on one of the more complex aspects of learning to program, learning programming language syntax. However, not all machine learning education products include drag-and-drop interaction, some instead have their own complex languages (e.g. Wolfram Programming Lab), which are less attractive to teachers and learners. In their pilot studies, the Finnish team found that drag-and-drop machine learning tools appeared to work well with students of all ages.

The different pedagogical approaches the Finnish research team used in their pilot studies included an exploratory approach with preschool children, who investigated machine learning recognition of happy or sad faces; and a project-based approach with older students, who co-created machine learning apps with web-based tools such as Teachable Machine and Learn Machine Learning (built by the research team), supported by machine learning experts.

Example of a middle school (age 8 to 11) student’s pen and paper design for a machine learning app that recognises different instruments and chords.
Example of a middle school (age 8 to 11) student’s design for a machine learning app that recognises different instruments and chords (Tedre & Vartiainen, 2021).

What impact these pedagogies have on students’ long-term mental models about machine learning has yet to be researched. If you want to find out more about the classroom pilot studies, the academic paper is a very accessible read.

My take-aways: new opportunities, new research questions

We all learned a tremendous amount from Matti and Henriikka and their perspectives on this important topic. Our seminar participants asked them many questions about the pedagogies and practicalities of teaching machine learning in class, and raised concerns about squeezing more into an already packed computing curriculum.

For me, the most significant take-away from the seminar was the need to shift focus from algorithms to data and from CT 1.0 to CT 2.0. Learning how to best teach classical rule-driven programming has been a long journey that we have not yet completed. We are forming an understanding of what concepts learners need to be taught, the progression of learning, key mental models, pedagogical options, and assessment approaches. For teaching data-driven development, we need to do the same.  

The question of how we make sure teachers have the necessary understanding is key.

Jane Waite

I see the shift in problem solving approach as a chance to strengthen the teaching of computing in general, because it opens up opportunities to teach about systems, uncertainty, data, and society. I think it will help us raise awareness about design, context, creativity, and student agency. But I worry about how we will introduce this shift. In my view, there is a considerable risk that we will be sucked into open-ended, project-based learning, with busy and fun but shallow learning experiences that result in restricted conceptual development for students.

I also worry about how we can best help teachers build up the knowledge and experience to support their students. In the Q&A after the seminar, I asked Matti and Henriikka about the role of their team’s machine learning experts in their pilot studies. It seemed to me that without them, the pilot lessons would not have worked, as the participating teachers and students would not have had the vocabulary to talk about the process and would not have known what was doable given the available time, tools, and student knowledge.

The question of how we make sure teachers have the necessary understanding is key. Many existing professional development resources for teachers wanting to learn about ML seem to imply that teachers will all need a PhD in statistics and neural network optimisation to engage with machine learning education. This is misleading. But teachers do need to understand the machine learning concepts that their students need to learn about, and I think we don’t yet know exactly what these concepts are. 

In summary, clearly more research is needed. There are fundamental questions still to be answered about what, when, and how we teach data-driven approaches to software systems development and how this impacts what we teach about classical, rule-based programming. But to me, that is exciting, and I am very much looking forward to the journey ahead.

Join our next free seminar

To find out what others recommend about teaching AI and ML, catch up on last month’s seminar with Professor Carsten Schulte and colleagues on centring data instead of code in the teaching of AI.

We have another four seminars in our monthly series on AI, machine learning, and data science education. Find out more about them on this page, and catch up on past seminar blogs and recordings here.

At our next seminar on Tuesday 7 December at 17:00–18:30 GMT, we will welcome Professor Rose Luckin from University College London. She will be presenting on what it is about AI that makes it useful for teachers and learners.

We look forward to meeting you there!

PS You can build your understanding of machine learning by joining our latest free online course, where you’ll learn foundational concepts and train your own ML model!

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Introducing Code Club World: a new way for young people to learn to code at home

Today we are introducing you to Code Club World — a free online platform where young people aged 9 to 13 can learn to make stuff with code.

Images from Code Club World, a free online platform for children who want to learn to code

In Code Club World, young people can:

  • Start out by creating their personal robot avatar
  • Make music, design a t-shirt, and teach their robot avatar to dance!
  • Learn to code on islands with structured activities
  • Discover block-based and text-based coding in Scratch and Python
  • Earn badges for their progress 
  • Share their coding creations with family, friends, and the Code Club World community

Learning to code at home with Code Club World: meaningful, fun, flexible

When we spoke to parents and children about learning at home during the pandemic, it became clear to us that they were looking for educational tools that the children can enjoy and master independently, and that are as fun and social as the computer games and other apps the children love.

A girl has fun learning to code at home, sitting with a laptop on a sofa, with a dog sleeping next to her and her father writing code too.
Code Club World is educational, and as fun as the games and apps young people love.

What’s more, a free tool for learning to code at home is particularly important for young people who are unable to attend coding clubs in person. We believe every child should have access to a high-quality coding and digital making education. And with this in mind, we set out to create Code Club World, an online environment as rich and engaging as a face-to-face extracurricular learning experience, where all young people can learn to code.

The Code Club World activities are mapped to our research-informed Digital Making Framework — a coding and digital making curriculum for non-formal settings. That means when children are in the Code Club World environment, they are learning to code and use digital making to independently create their ideas and address challenges that matter to them.

Islands in the Code Club World online platform for children who want to learn to code for free.
Welcome to Code Club World — so many islands to explore!

By providing a structured pathway through the coding activities, a reward system of badges to engage and motivate learners, and a broad range of projects covering different topics, Code Club World supports learners at every stage, while making the activities meaningful, fun, and flexible.

A girl has fun learning to code at home on a tablet sitting on a sofa.
Code Club World’s home island works as well on mobile phones and tablets as on computers.

We’ve also designed Code Club World to be mobile-friendly, so if a young person uses a phone or tablet to visit the platform, they can still code cool things they will be proud of.

Created with the community

Since we started developing Code Club World, we have been working with a community of more than 1000 parents, educators, and children who are giving us valuable input to shape the direction of the platform. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from them:

“I’ve not coded before, but found this really fun! … I LOVED making the dance. It was so much fun and made me laugh!”

Learner, aged 11

“I love the concept of having islands to explore in making the journey through learning coding, it is fabulous and eye-catching.”

Parent

The platform is still in beta status — this means we’d love you to share it with young people in your family, school, or community so they can give their feedback and help make Code Club World even better.

Together, we will ensure every child has an equal opportunity to learn to code and make things that change their world.

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The Raspberry Pi Build HAT and LEGO® components at our CoderDojo

As so many CoderDojos around the world, our office-based CoderDojo hadn’t been able to bring learners together in person since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. So we decided that our first time back in the Raspberry Pi Foundation headquarters should be something special. Having literally just launched the new Raspberry Pi Build HAT for programming LEGO® projects with Raspberry Pi computers, we wanted to celebrate our Dojo’s triumphant return to in-person session by offering a ‘LEGO bricks and Raspberry Pi’ activity!

A robot buggy built by young people with LEGO bricks and the Raspberry Pi Build HAT.

Back in person, with new ways to create with code

The Raspberry Pi Build HAT allows learners to build and program projects with Raspberry Pi computers and LEGO® Technic™ motors and sensors from the LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Portfolio.

A close-up of the Raspberry Pi Build HAT on a Maker Plate and connected to electronic components.

What better way could there be to get the more experienced coders among our Dojo’s young people (Ninjas) properly excited to be back? We knew they were fond of building things with LEGO bricks, as so many young people are, so we were sure they would have great fun with this activity!

Two girls work together on a coding project.

For our beginners, we set up Raspberry Pi workstations and got them coding the projects on the Home island on our brand-new Code Club World platform, which they absolutely loved, so their jealousy was mitigated somewhat. 

Being able to rely on your learners’ existing skills in making the physical build leaves you a lot more time to support them with what they’re actually here to learn: the coding and digital making skills.

We wanted to keep our first Dojo back small, so for the ‘LEGO bricks and Raspberry Pi’ activity, we set up just four workstations, each with a Raspberry Pi 4, with 4GB RAM and a Raspberry Pi Build HAT on top, and a LEGO Education SPIKE Prime set. We put eight participants into teams of two, and made sure that all of them brought a little experience with text-based coding, because we wanted them to be able to focus on making projects in their own style, rather than first learning the basics of coding in Python. Then we offered our Ninjas the choice of the first two projects in the Introduction to the Raspberry Pi Build HAT and LEGO path: make Pong game controllers, or make a remote-controlled robot buggy. As I had predicted, all the teams chose to make a robot buggy!

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Teamwork and design

The teams of Ninjas were immediately off and making — in fact, they couldn’t wait to get the lids off the boxes of brightly coloured bricks and beams!

Two young people work as a team at a CoderDojo coding club.

Our project instructions focus primarily on supporting learners through coding and testing the mechanics of their creations, leaving the design and build totally up to them. This was evidenced by the variety of buggy designs we saw at the project showcase at the end of the two-hour Dojo session!

One of the amazing things Raspberry Pi makes possible when you use it with the Raspberry Pi Build HAT and SPIKE™ Prime set: it’s simple to make the Raspberry Pi at the heart of the creation talk to a mobile device via Bluetooth, and off you go controlling what you’ve created via a phone or tablet.

While beginner-friendly, the projects in the Introduction path involve a mix of coding, testing, designing, and building. So it required focus and solid teamwork for the Ninjas to finish their buggies in time for the project showcase. And this is where building with LEGO pieces was really helpful.

Coding front and centre, thanks to the Raspberry Pi Build HAT

Having LEGO bricks and the Build HAT available to create their Raspberry Pi–powered robot buggies made it easy for our Ninjas to focus on writing the code to get their buggies to work. They weren’t relying on crafting skills or duct tape and glue guns to make a chassis in the relatively short time they had, and the coding could be front and centre for them.

The most exciting part for the Ninjas was that they were building remote-controlled robot buggies. This is one of the amazing things Raspberry Pi makes possible when you use it with the Build HAT and SPIKE™ Prime set: it’s simple to make the Raspberry Pi at the heart of the creation talk to a mobile device via Bluetooth, and off you go controlling what you’ve created via a phone or tablet.

The LEGO Technic motors that are part of the LEGO Education SPIKE Prime set are of really high quality, and they’re super easy to program with the Build HAT and its Python library! You can change the motors’ speed by setting a single parameter in your code. You can also easily write code to set or read the motors’ exact angle (their absolute position). That allows you to finely control the motors’ movements, or to use them as sensors.

Some of our teams, inspired by everything the SPIKE Prime set has to offer, tried out programming the set’s sensors, to switch their robot buggy on or help it avoid obstacles. Because we only had about 90 minutes of digital making, not all teams managed to finish adding the extra features they wanted — but next time for sure!

A young person programs a robot buggy built with LEGO bricks and the Raspberry Pi Build HAT.

With a little more time (or another Dojo session), it would have been possible for the Ninjas to make some very advanced remote-controlled buggies indeed, complete with headlights, brake lights, sensors, and sound.

Learning with LEGO® elements and Raspberry Pi computers

If you have access to LEGO Education SPIKE Prime sets for your learners, then the Raspberry Pi Build HAT is a great addition that allows them to build complex robotics projects with very simple code — but I think that’s not its main benefit.

A robot buggy built by young people with LEGO bricks and the Raspberry Pi Build HAT.

Because the Build HAT allows your learners to work with LEGO elements, you know that many of them already understand one aspect of the creation process: they’ve got experience of using LEGO bricks to solve a problem. In a coding or STEM club session, or in a classroom lesson, you can only give your learners limited amount of time to complete a project, or get their project prototype to a stable point. So being able to rely on your learners’ existing skills in making the physical build leaves you a lot more time to support them with what they’re actually here to learn: the coding and digital making skills.

You and your young people next!

The projects using the Raspberry Pi Build HATs were such a hit, we’ll be getting them and the LEGO Education SPIKE Prime sets out at every Dojo session from now on! We’re excited to see what young people around the world will be creating thanks to our new collaboration with LEGO Education.

Have you used the Raspberry Pi Build HAT with your learners or young people at home yet? Share their stories and creations in the comments here, or on social media using #BuildHAT.

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Cat Lamin on building a global educator family | Hello World #17

Cat Lamin.

In Hello World issue 17, Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Cat Lamin talks about how building connections and sharing the burden can help make us better educators, even in times of great stress:

“I felt like I needed to play my part”

In March 2020, the world suddenly changed. For educators, we jumped from face-to-face teaching to a stark new landscape, with no idea of how the future would look. As generous teachers pushed out free resources, I felt like I needed to play my part. Suddenly, an idea struck me. In September 2017, I had decided to be brave and submit a talk to PyConUK to discuss my mental health. Afterwards, several people in the audience shared their own stories with me or let me know that it helped them just to hear that someone else struggled too. I realised that in times of pressure, we need a chance to talk and we had lost these outlets. In school, we would pop to the staffroom or a friend’s classroom for a quick vent, but that wasn’t an option anymore. People were feeling isolated, scared, stressed and didn’t have anyone to turn to.

I realised that in times of pressure, we need a chance to talk, and we had lost these outlets.

Cat Lamin

Thus, the first Global Google Educator Group Staffroom: Mental Health Matters was launched on 14 March 2020, which coincided with the US government announcing school closures and UK teachers still waiting anxiously to hear when doors would close. The aim of Staffroom was to give teachers a safe space to talk about how they’re feeling under the overwhelming weight of school closures. To say it was a success would be an understatement, with teachers joining the calls from Australia, Malaysia, the USA, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Europe and more!

Pily Perfil.

Staffroom for me is a place and time to connect with other teachers from around the world. I remember seeing the calendar invites by mail and I kept thinking I should join but was afraid to do it. The first time I did it, I listened first and it made me realize that my struggles during pandemic online teaching were the same struggles as everywhere else.” – Pily Hernandez, Monterrey, Mexico

Which William are you today?

In those early days, we just gave teachers a chance to talk. The format of our meetings was simple: what’s your name, where are you from, and then an ice breaker question like ‘What colour do you feel like?’ or ‘What song represents your current mood?’ It wasn’t long before we hit upon a winning formula by making our own ‘Which image are you today?’ picture scale (see the ‘Which William’ image below!). Using the picture scales allowed people to really express how they felt. Often someone who had been happily chatting would explain that they were actually struggling to keep their head above water because a silly image allowed them to be honest.

A grid of photos of the same toddler expressing different emotions.
Which William are you today?

One of the most important messages from Staffroom was that many people involved with technology in schools were feeling alone. After years of suggesting teachers use technology, suddenly they were blamed for schools not being properly prepared. They were struggling with not necessarily knowing what to suggest to teachers with technology difficulties, as they were grappling with their own personal lockdown situations. Hearing that other people, all around the world, were experiencing something similar was hugely eye-opening and took a great amount of weight off their shoulders.

Abid Patel.

“As someone who thrived from having in person connections and networking opportunities, lockdown hit me hard. Staffroom really helped to keep those connections going and has developed into such a lovely safe space to talk and connect with others.” – Abid Patel, London, UK

We varied the tone of the sessions depending on the needs of the attendees. In the first few months, we shared our lockdown situations and our different experiences across the world. We could share advice and tips, as well as best practice for delivering content and things that had gone terribly wrong since switching to remote teaching. Or we’d discuss food in different countries around the world (did you know that in Australia, fish and chips is made from shark?) or joke about whether Vegemite was actually an edible product (it’s ok, I tried it live on camera during one Staffroom). Other days, we would discuss how difficult we were finding teaching, isolation or life in general during a pandemic.

An honest environment

One of the things that people continuously mentioned was that Staffroom was a safe place where they felt they could share, be listened to, and be understood. We made it clear that no one had to speak unless they wanted to. I made a point of always being completely honest about my own mental health. As a person who had suffered from depression and anxiety in the past, it was no surprise to me when I was diagnosed with both near the end of 2020, and I was fortunate enough to get virtual therapy. I shared my story with the group, which allowed attendees to feel more comfortable being open and talking about their own struggles, in some cases leading to their own diagnosis and getting much-needed support.

Frederick Ballew.

Staffroom has been the best ‘out of my comfort zone’ leap that I have ever taken. I have met educators from all over the world and learned that there are more things that unite us than divide us in this world of education.” – Frederick Ballew, Minnesota, USA

People would join Staffroom to share new jobs, engagements, even cross-country moves, but equally they would join after losing a loved one or hearing of a pupil sick in hospital. Staffroom became a safe haven for teachers, coaches, IT directors, and pretty much anyone involved in technology within education. It is a place where we could bond over shared experience, share a joke, ask questions, get ideas, and even plan our futures.

Do not underestimate the power of connections, and of sharing your story.

Cat Lamin

Alongside Staffroom, I also built a website to allow teachers to share their mental health stories and to feel a little less alone (mentalhealthineducation.com). I continue to host regular Staffrooms, although less frequently. 18 months ago, we needed a chance to talk three times a week, but now we meet two or three times a month instead. You can find current Staffroom dates at www.globalgeg.org/events. If you take one thing away from this article, however, it is this: do not underestimate the power of connections, and of sharing your story.

Cat Lamin is a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator, CAS Master Teacher, and Google Certified Innovator who works as a freelance trainer and coach, supporting schools with digital strategy and enabling educators to use technology more effectively. For running this regular mental health staffroom, she was awarded a Mental Health Champion Award from Edufuturist.

Share your thoughts about Hello World with me!

Your insights are invaluable to help us make Hello World as useful as it can be for computing educators around the globe. Hello World is a magazine for educators from educators — so if you are interested in having a 20-minute chat with me about what you like about the magazine, and what you would like to change, then please sign up here. I look forward to speaking with you.

Download Hello World for free

The brand-new issue of our free Hello World magazine for computing educators focuses on all things health and well-being.

Cover of issue 17 of Hello World.

It is full of inspiring stories and practical ideas for teaching your learners about computing in this context, and supporting them to use digital technologies in beneficial ways.

Download the new issue of Hello World for free today:

To never miss a new issue, you can subscribe to Hello World for free. We’ve also just released the first-ever special edition of Hello World — The Big Book of Pedagogy — which focuses on approaches to teaching computing in the classroom. Download the special issue for 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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Computer science education is a global challenge

For the last two years, I’ve been one of the advisors to the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, a US-based think tank, on their project to survey formal computing education systems across the world. The resulting education policy report, Building skills for life: How to expand and improve computer science education around the world, pulls together the findings of their research. I’ll highlight key lessons policymakers and educators can benefit from, and what elements I think have been missed.

Woman teacher and female students at a computer

Why a global challenge?

Work on this new Brookings report was motivated by the belief that if our goal is to create an equitable, global society, then we need computer science (CS) in school to be accessible around the world; countries need to educate their citizens about computer science, both to strengthen their economic situation and to tackle inequality between countries. The report states that “global development gaps will only be expected to widen if low-income countries’ investments in these domains falter while high-income countries continue to move ahead” (p. 12).

Student using a Raspberry Pi computer

The report makes an important contribution to our understanding of computer science education policy, providing a global overview as well as in-depth case studies of education policies around the world. The case studies look at 11 countries and territories, including England, South Africa, British Columbia, Chile, Uruguay, and Thailand. The map below shows an overview of the Brookings researchers’ findings. It indicates whether computer science is a mandatory or elective subject, whether it is taught in primary or secondary schools, and whether it is taught as a discrete subject or across the curriculum.

A world map showing countries' situation in terms of computing education policy.
Computer science education across the world. Figure courtesy of Brookings Institution (click to enlarge).

It’s a patchy picture, demonstrating both countries’ level of capacity to deliver computer science education and the different approaches countries have taken. Analysis in the Brookings report shows a correlation between a country’s economic position and implementation of computer science in schools: no low-income countries have implemented it at all, while over 20% of high-income countries have mandatory computer science education at both primary and secondary level. 

Capacity building: IT infrastructure and beyond

Given these disparities, there is a significant focus in the report on what IT infrastructure countries need in order to deliver computer science education. This infrastructure needs to be preceded by investment (funds to afford it) and policy (a clear statement of intent and an implementation plan). Many countries that the Brookings report describes as having no computer science education may still be struggling to put these in place.

A young woman codes in a computing classroom.

The recently developed CAPE (capacity, access, participation, experience) framework offers another way of assessing disparities in education. To have capacity to make computer science part of formal education, a country needs to put in place the following elements:

My view is that countries that are at the beginning of this process need to focus on IT infrastructure, but also on the other elements of capacity. The Brookings report touches on these elements of capacity as well. Once these are in place in a country, the focus can shift to the next level: access for learners.

Comparing countries — what policies are in place?

In their report, the Brookings researchers identify seven complementary policy actions that a country can take to facilitate implementation of computer science education:

  1. Introduction of ICT (information and communications technology) education programmes
  2. Requirement for CS in primary education
  3. Requirement for CS in secondary education
  4. Introduction of in-service CS teacher education programmes
  5. Introduction of pre-service teacher CS education programmes
  6. Setup of a specialised centre or institution focused on CS education research and training
  7. Regular funding allocated to CS education by the legislative branch of government

The figure below compares the 11 case-study regions in terms of how many of the seven policy actions have been taken, what IT infrastructure is in place, and when the process of implementing CS education started.

A graph showing the trajectory of 11 regions of the world in terms of computing education policy.
Trajectories of regions in the 11 case studies. Figure courtesy of Brookings Institution (click to enlarge).

England is the only country that has taken all seven of the identified policy actions, having already had nation-wide IT infrastructure and broadband connectivity in place. Chile, Thailand, and Uruguay have made impressive progress, both on infrastructure development and on policy actions. However, it’s clear that making progress takes many years — Chile started in 1992, and Uruguay in 2007 —  and requires a considerable amount of investment and government policy direction.

Computing education policy in England

The first case study that Brookings produced for this report, back in 2019, related to England. Over the last 8 years in England, we have seen the development of computing education in the curriculum as a mandatory subject in primary and secondary schools. Initially, funding for teacher education was limited, but in 2018, the government provided £80 million of funding to us and a consortium of partners to establish the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE). Thus, in-service teacher education in computing has been given more priority in England than probably anywhere else in the world.

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

Alongside teacher education, the funding also covered our development of classroom resources to cover the whole CS curriculum, and of Isaac Computer Science, our online platform for 14- to 18-year-olds learning computer science. We’re also working on a £2m government-funded research project looking at approaches to improving the gender balance in computing in English schools, which is due to report results next year.

The future of education policy in the UK as it relates to AI technologies is the topic of an upcoming panel discussion I’m inviting you to attend.

school-aged girls and a teacher using a computer together.

The Brookings report highlights the way in which the English government worked with non-profit organisations, including us here at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, to deliver on the seven policy actions. Partnerships and engagement with stakeholders appear to be key to effectively implementing computer science education within a country. 

Lessons learned, lessons missed

What can we learn from the Brookings report’s helicopter view of 11 case studies? How can we ensure that computer science education is going to be accessible for all children? The Brookings researchers draw our six lessons learned in their report, which I have taken the liberty of rewording and shortening here:

  1. Create demand
  2. Make it mandatory
  3. Train teachers
  4. Start early
  5. Work in partnership
  6. Make it engaging

In the report, the sixth lesson is phrased as, “When taught in an interactive, hands-on way, CS education builds skills for life.” The Brookings researchers conclude that focusing on project-based learning and maker spaces is the way for schools to achieve this, which I don’t find convincing. The problem with project-based learning in maker spaces is one of scale: in my experience, this approach only works well in a non-formal, small-scale setting. The other reason is that maker spaces, while being very engaging, are also very expensive. Therefore, I don’t see them as a practicable aspect of a nationally rolled-out, mandatory, formal curriculum.

When we teach computer science, it is important that we encourage young people to ask questions about ethics, power, privilege, and social justice.

Sue Sentance

We have other ways to make computer science engaging to all learners, using a breadth of pedagogical approaches. In particular, we should focus on cultural relevance, an aspect of education the Brookings report does not centre. Culturally relevant pedagogy is a framework for teaching that emphasises the importance of incorporating and valuing all learners’ knowledge, heritage, and ways of learning, and promotes the development of learners’ critical consciousness of the world. When we teach computer science, it is important that we encourage young people to ask questions about ethics, power, privilege, and social justice.

Three teenage boys do coding at a shared computer during a computer science lesson.

The Brookings report states that we need to develop and use evidence on how to teach computer science, and I agree with this. But to properly support teachers and learners, we need to offer them a range of approaches to teaching computing, rather than just focusing on one, such as project-based learning, however valuable that approach may be in some settings. Through the NCCE, we have embedded twelve pedagogical principles in the Teach Computing Curriculum, which is being rolled out to six million learners in England’s schools. In time, through this initiative, we will gain firm evidence on what the most effective approaches are for teaching computer science to all students in primary and secondary schools.

Moving forward together

I believe the Brookings Institution’s report has a huge contribution to make as countries around the world seek to introduce computer science in their classrooms. As we can conclude from the patchiness of the CS education world map, there is still much work to be done. I feel fortunate to be living in a country that has been able and motivated to prioritise computer science education, and I think that partnerships and working across stakeholder groups, particularly with schools and teachers, have played a large part in the progress we have made.

To my mind, the challenge now is to find ways in which countries can work together towards more equity in computer science education around the world. The findings in this report will help us make that happen.


PS We invite you to join us on 16 November for our online panel discussion on what the future of the UK’s education policy needs to look like to enable young people to navigate and shape AI technologies. Our speakers include UK Minister Chris Philp, our CEO Philip Colligan, and two young people currently in education. Tabitha Goldstaub, Chair of the UK government’s AI Council, will be chairing the discussion.

Sign up for your free ticket today and submit your questions to our panel!

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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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