Future of Pi and ICT in schools

The course run by CEPAC at the University of Ulster for teachers was a great introduction to some coding that could be useful in the classroom.  Northern Ireland is way behind England with ICT.  In England ICT has changed to computing and it seems to be really popular.  The whole curriculum has changed and is supported at all levels, by Government, local Government and by Industry.

Will the nature of ICT change in Northern Ireland.  Since the introduction of Using ICT it has been virtual chaos.  Teachers have not had the skills to teach children, and the ICT departments have been hacked to pieces with not getting proper time to teach children good and lasting skills and techniques.

Are there enough ICT teachers or are there enough qualified computer experts to teach the skills necessary for the 21st Century?  Industry in Northern Ireland, and top economists are calling out for computer programmers, yet there is not the skill, the expertise, the time, the teaching staff, nor the support to deliver this.

What is the way forward?  Will NI go the way of England in introducing scheduled classes of ICT with programming modules, so that at GCSE there can be a programming module, and at A level there can also be programming?  The take up will never be huge as it is difficult for children and not everyone can hack it (pardon the pun)! However, it would enable kids to have an opportunity to find if they have the skills and qualities to take up programming for a future career.

I think that ICT as a scheduled subject, treated like English and Maths in terms of its importance to the overall curriculum, taught with qualified teachers, could guide students in high level ICT skills, computing skills, and logical skills, and this would enhance thinking skills and develop their minds for GCSE at all levels of ICT.

Lessons in Pi

Raspberry Pi


Teacher prep:

Know before you start:

http://www.raspberrypi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/quick-start-guide-v1.1.pdf This is a pdf starter guide, with graphics of all the hardware explained.

Introduction slideshows from Slideshare:





Lesson 1


Setup hardware

Use software GUI – login and password – startx

Shut down safely

Details at:


OCR have great start up guide and a series of lessons:



Lesson 2

Using Minecraft Pi

Download http://pi.minecraft.net/

Source: https://arghbox.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/minecraftbook.pdf

There are cards that can be used on the internet, or as print outs.

Lesson 3

Using Python Syntax

Minecraft: Teleport the Player

Minecraft: Teleport the Player Precisely

Minecraft: Teleportation Tour

Minecraft: Stop smashing things

Source: https://arghbox.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/minecraftbook.pdf Chapter 3


Lesson 4 etc

You can continue with this book for many more lessons if they are going well.



Learn to program with Scratch: basic

Basically, this is just installing Scratch software on the Pi and then using Scratch as normal.

Learn to program with Scratch: led switches

Using a Berry Clip and using Scratch to program it.

This site gives you the software, hardware, and steps.


There are lots of different boards that can be added:



Create a humidity sensor

Difficulty level: 4

Log on to:


Software: You need to have Python and C downloaded and installed. The next page on the above gives you the location and details.

This shows you the overview, the exact wiring, linking and uploading to Google Docs.

Hardware: Purchase the equipment required. This is an American company so you need to watch for this.

Sonic Pi

Using Sonic Pi has a series of lessons:



Other resources:

OCR have great start up guide and a series of lessons:


Raspberry Pi school:


Magazine now part of the Raspberry Foundation: http://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi/

Coding the Pi

In Lesson 3 we used a led pack with resisters and a bread block, and then coded the pi so that we had led lights flashing according to a binary pattern.  Yes, it was as complicated as it sounds.

It was good fun, particularly working with someone, because you definitely needed two heads to work it out.

In school you would need to have all this equipment before you used it.  The wires, extra wires, led lights, resisters.  You really need a list.

We then coded using py and wrote the script.  It was a complicated script and even we found that we made mistakes in typing it.  The good thing was that python tells you exactly what line and the kind of error you made, so we were able to change it.

1. press CTRL C to get out of the code when it is running.

2. type pi@raspberry ~ $ nano shifter.py to get back into the code to change it.

Lab 3 : Tasks

1.     Task 1 : Can you modify the code so that you send the following bit patterns:

a.       10101010


b.      11010100


c.       00011111


Answer: you need to change the binary to hexadecimal.


The first line is 10101010 and this is decimal 170 which is hexadecimal AA.

You then go into the shifter.py to the line in def main():  after try  shifter.setValue(0xAA).  It is the last AA you change.  You repeat this for the other three examples with the different codes.

You can change and modify this and have fun doing so and see what kind of patterns you can come up with.

2.    Task  2 : Change this line

self.pause =0.1


self.pause = 0

and re-run your program.  What do you notice now?

Answer:  This is also under def main () and changes the frequency of the pulse, so that it is faster or slower.

3.  Task 3 : Can you modify the program so that it prints on the screen the binary code that is being output to the GPIO port?

under def setValue you need to put in a print value.

Set up and Start Baking!

The site: https://sites.google.com/site/tttprogrammingwithraspberrypi/home has all the good news on trying to get to grips with the Raspberry Pi.

We used the Raspberry Pi B.  Here is how to connect:

1. Test Screen

2. Press SHIFT and NOOBS screen appears.

3. Welcome to Raspberry Pi and wait for install.

Task #1: Find the default username and password to login to your Raspberry Pi.

The Linux Operating system was designed with a multi-user environment in mind.  As such, the operation of the system requires a Login and password to identify the user.  Search the documentation online to find the default username and password for the Raspbian OS, and make a note in your logbook.

Answer:  Pi and Raspberry

Task #2: Find information about the Hardware present in your Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi system is a SOC or System on Chip processor.  The board you have with you is Revision 2 of the Raspberry Pi.  Find out all the details you can about the Hardware in the Raspberry Pi and make a note in your log-book.

Task #3:  Identify the connections for the General Purpose Input/Output interface

The Raspberry Pi  you have comes with a 26-wire-breakout-ribbon cable and a Breadboard connector.  Identify all 26 connections of the Breadboard connection and make a note of them.


Ribbon Cable:

Connectors and names

Task # 4:  Find the Linux command(s) you need to create a working directory for yourself in the memory card.

Once we finish installing the OS we will configure the Raspberry Pi to boot to the command line interface (CLI).  In this interface, commands need to be typed in order to have the Pi perform different tasks.  You will need to find the commands to create a new directory, and to switch to that new directory to store all your files.  Make a note of these in your Log-Book.


[also see video http://www.raspberrypi.org/help/quick-start-guide/%5D

1. disable desktop.  To do this click on ‘enable desktop’ and then arrow key to no.

2. turn off SSH.  Only do this if you are using a network.  Otherwise leave it.

3. Finish.

This takes you to the Command Line Interface.

login: pi  and then raspberry

To return to screen which changes the configuration:

In CLI type: sudo raspi-config    You can do this at any stage in the programming.

To use GUI:

type   startx

With mouse connected then click logout, and logout and you get back to the CLI.


Following the https://sites.google.com/site/tttprogrammingwithraspberrypi/home on Lab 1

Note: blue writing is a folder.

makdir  which will make a directory

Pi in the Classroom – ideas

Other ideas:

The ideas below are from Sec Ed.  The links I have kept to go straight.


“Why buy Pi?” is a question that I am often asked. The phrasing of the question varies, but the sentiment remains startlingly similar: “As a teacher of ICT, I’m really keen to introduce computing in my school – but I simply don’t understand where Raspberry Pi fits into all of this. Why on earth would I choose to have a class suite of Raspberry Pi computers?”

Learn programming: To ensure that students understand not only how to use technology but also how to create and make, the new ICT curriculum is very likely to have a heavy focus on coding. Why not make a head start, with a Raspberry Pi and a free book, you have the complete toolkit to teach yourself how to program in Python.

Launch a club: You could use the Raspberry Pi to help inspire a group of pupils to lead a lunchtime club, why not Pi-day Friday?

A moving display: Use it in kiosk mode with a TV or monitor, and play a reel of photos or videos showcasing pupils’ work or inspirational quotes and video clips. The RaspBMC image is perfect for displaying a range of media.

Robot arm display: You can purchase a robot arm for less than £30 and if you are feeling really brave make it a voice-controlled robot arm.

School weather station: Get up-to-date snow alerts from your school over Twitter. Follow @Weather_Pi or set up your own Raspberry Pi controlled weather station.

Raspberry punnet: Make your own custom case for your Raspberry Pi. The “Punnet”, a free downloadable PDF, is just one example.

Minecraft Pi: While your network manager may not be keen on installing games on the school network, you can now let Minecraft junkies in your class show you their talents with this version of Minecraft, which runs on the Raspberry Pi.

A Quadcopter: If you are feeling very adventurous, you can build a search and rescue drone with a Raspberry Pi controlled quadcopter to take aerial photos of your school.

– See more at: http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/best-practice/ideas-for-using-the-raspberry-pi#sthash.nwQgKvaA.dpuf

Starting the Pi

You need to download NOOBS in order to have the OS work. It can also be used to recover from an SD Card corruption.  It supports most OS for Pi. Easy to configure.

Pi in the classroom:

Learn programming: launch a club: a moving display: robot arm display; school weather station: minecraft PI: a quadcopter (not really the best though)

Airplane tracking: power over Ethernet cable to the Raspberry Pi, with a cable that can track info about airplanes.  There is a community about this.  Where?  Could do this as Strangford is in a flight path.

Issues with Pi:

Problems due to power supply:

1. Unreliable Ethernet or keyboard.  If occasional esp when you switch to mouse or GUI.

2. SD card errors at start up.

3. Random program interruptions.

Solution: 1Amp.  Not all power supplies will deliver what they say. They may not be able to provide continuous supply.

4. USB ports cannot deliver full power.

Solution:  get externally powered USB hub drawn from the mains.


26 pin connector on side of the board

Can be connected as input or output

Max input voltage is 3.3v.  NO UPS within the PI.

output can drive normal TTL (V>3.3 = logic 1, V <1.5 = logic 2)

Start up:

On config go to advanced options and choose headless to use without a monitor.

On first line of config you can choose to go straight to command line.

You need a user name and password to get into Raspberry PI. Username: pi  Password: raspberry Note: when typing the password it doesn’t show any characters so you do not know how long.

The tutor is showing the code on the screen.  I can’t see a thing.  It is tiny, even if I was right up the front I couldn’t see a thing!

Shut down:

$ sudo halt

super user do the next command.  Halt means to shut down.

DO NOT just unplug or you will damage the device.

Coder with Pi:

Some Googlers in NY developed a program to turn Pi into a web server.  http://googlecreativelab.github.io/coder/ All you need is to set up the Pi, download the coder, and have it connected to the internet from an Ethernet cable.

Pi as media centre:

Connect Pi to TV and to internet.  You can download using a program called Genesis.

Raspberry Pi

Pre_Raspberry Pi

There are lots of programs including Daisy the dinosaur for Mac.  Scratch from MIT for visual programming.  Greenfoot for use with the beginnings of programming and then using Drones and node.js for use with real life programming.

The Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is useful for programming.  As long as you have a keyboard, mouse, screen, and camera.  There are different versions.  It is a credit card sized computer that can operate like a PC.  The idea of using it in education is that you can innovate, engage students at a reasonable cost, and inspire.  It is the initial spark that sets students on the path toward education.

It engages students who are not immediately engaged with engineering.  It also engages girls.  An example from a video (from the TED channel) we saw at UU was a group of K7 students programmed scratch using the Raspberry Pi.

Motion sensor linked up in a basic circuit that caused an audio signal to sound.

Wearable art .  Instead of lights on a jacket, turn signals and stop light. Sewed a circuit so that it would light up on the backpack to show an arrow going left right or stop.

For more details see http://www.raspberrypi.org/tag/girls/ and the bottom link to TED channel and the video.

Check out: http://www.raspberrypi.org

Specification (the geek stuff):

System – CPU and GPU in one layer, ADRAM on a separate chip.

CPU: 700MHz ARM11 core

GPU: Open GL, Open VG.  High definition output.

512MB of SDRAM

2 USB ports 2.0.  The latest version has 4 ports.  You could get a hub.

standard network of 10/100Mbps with an RJ45.

Video out, audio out, AD Card reader, no RTC, and about 40g weight.

NO time clock on board and depends on network.

Note on ARM11 architecture: used in many mobile devices.

32bit device

GPU capable of up to 24 GFLOPS with an NVidia GEForce

HDMI is 1.3 compliant.

OTHER HARDWARE: (check these for prices and latest editions)


mini display

OS is Raspian, ArchLinux, OpenELEC (to make it a media centre), Pidora, RISC OS, RaspBMC (more heavy weight than OpenELEC).  See http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/ for some of these that can be downloaded.

ALL LINUX based.  Windows 10 should be able to use it.

A Raspberry Pi standard kit is http://swag.raspberrypi.org/collections/pi-kits/products/raspberry-pi-2-starter-kit for £72.

Other projects

There are nine projects from PC Pro: http://www.pcpro.co.uk/computing/1000043/the-9-best-raspberry-pi-projects-and-uses-cool-things-you-can-do-with-a-22

See especially turning your TV into a media centre, and a dedicated minecraft machine.