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Raspberry Pi computers and sensor board programming

Set of four lessons teaching the Raspberry Pi microcomputer system

Cloud created by:

Claire Griffiths
23 April 2015

Narrator     Teacher

Situation

Context- Learning how to build and program small portable microcomputers (Raspberry pis) and sensor boards during a series of four 50 minute S3 Computer Game Development Classes)

Setting- Computer Lab in a state secondary school 

Participants- Teacher and a class of S3 students 

Previous Experience-

  • 8 months of Game Development classes and 2 years of general ICT/ Computing
  • Basic competency with Scratch computer programming language
  • Familiarity with components of a basic computer including their names and basic functionality

Task

Learning Objectives

  1. 1.    To introduce the raspberry pi microcomputer.
  2. 2.    To introduce the Pico sensor board
  3. 3.    To show how to connect and build a raspberry pi computer setup
  4. 4.    How to add a sensor board to a raspberry pi computer set-up

Success criteria

  • to be able to construct a working raspebrry pi computer system
  • be able to create working code for the Pico sensor board

Actions

Lesson Preparation

A PowerPoint was created which included a definition of a pi along with a series of activities for the students to complete.  The activities include:

  • Labelling an image of a raspberry pi (labels supplied)
  • Internet Research task- Examples of the use of Raspberry Pis
  • Internet Research task on Minecraft pi and Sonic Pi

The components of the Raspberry pis were gathered together. A demonstration Raspberry Pi was set up and tested prior to the class arriving. It was then taken apart ready to be set up during the lesson.

Intro
The students were asked about their prior knowledge of a raspberry pi. A pi was handed around the group while the class answered questions about what the different part of the pi.

Demonstration
A raspberry pi was set up following the suggestions of the students as to what connected to what other part. Eventually the pi was switched on. It worked. Detail of the username and password for a pi were shared so the students could set up a pi by themselves.

Group work
The class split into groups of 4 ideally.

Results

Unfortunately some groups were too large for each member to take an active part and this led some students to lose interest in the activity.

There was a general positive interest in raspberry pis as a concept and they were happy to put the pis together. During the later lessons the students designed some code for the sensor boards and showed a genuine interest in seeing how the sensor board behaved

Reflections

I need to find enough additional equipment to have 8-10 raspberry pi groups rather than 5 so that the groups are 2 with a maximum of 3. This will mean that everyone is more hands-on. The result will be improved student engagement in the activity. 

Drawback- Increased cost- This will mean the need for additional cabling @ £5 a cable. I have enough monitors, pis so that is not the issue.

I changed the pi course between two different sets of students and I found the engagement with the second group to be much better. In the second occurance of the course we only spent one lesson building pis and then moved onto developing small pieces of code which could be used with the sensor boards. 

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