Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Picademy USA Part 1

This is Part 1   of a blog post series from the first #Picademy USA in MountainView this past weekend - including this Video Summary.

You can also check out  Part 2  and Part 3 



How fortunate I was to get a chance to spend the last two days with about 40+  passionate, creative, smart, inspiring educators who are committed to their students all drinking from a firehose at the first Picademy USA in Mountain View, California.   When I first learned about Picademy, I looked into flights to England and almost coughed up the money for airfare a few times, until….. I heard they were planning one for the US.  I was so excited, but  not nearly as excited as I would be the day I learned that I  had been accepted to Picademy.   Sure I was excited to learn more about the Raspberry Pi — but mostly I was excited because I knew that I would meet the most awesome educators and learn so much from them!  I was NOT disappointed!    

I hitched a ride  from the airport with one of the other participants, Shane, who so graciously chauffeured Steve, myself and  a few others  around for the next two days-- Thank You -Shane!  We grabbed some lunch, and drove  around  MountainView and neighboring towns such as Palo Alto and Stanford - before checking into our hotels— then whizzed off to the Computer History Museum to meet our hosts and fellow participants. 



Our hosts (The PiAcademy Team and the Computer History Museum Team) were not only super smart, but they were also super nice and super cool!  Our Friday night meet and greet at the Museum not only allowed us to meet our hosts and each other,  it also gave us a chance to be inspired by inspiring Pi enthusiast from the community.  












I said Hi to the folks from TechShop got to  ask the cofounder of Piper for tips on how to get the monitor that came with my Piper to work with my Pi Zero...






 and watched a local maker demonstrate how he used InkScape to draw designs that were printed on golf balls using SPHEREBOT.....





and checked out some fun Pi projects created by a mother and daughter team...


  and then got blown away by a 12 year old PI genius!   I couldn’t begin to do justice to Armand’s invention  using the Pi to provide textual help for the visually impaired..so I asked him if he’d be willing to tell you himself!







The Computer History Museum had on deck some of its best docents to  give us a tour of the museum.  I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.  It made me want to go back and explore further.   Kim, our docent, was a master storyteller and made the legacy hardware come alive. 









As we exited the museum, Food Trucks lined the courtyard near the museum and offered a wide variety of choices for dinner before we headed back to our hotels to rest up for the next day's learning.










Picademy Day 1

Saturday (our first ‘official’  day of Picademy)  started with brightly colored goodie bags that brought a smile to everyone's face followed by an official welcome from the team.












We learned more about the Raspberry Pi Foundation from Phillip  Colligan, CEO and were inspired by Carrie Anne’s call to action message  around the importance of computer science in the learning landscape of every child.














After a quick unplugged coding activity, the rest of the day  continued  filled with workshops that were the perfect length. Each member of the Picademy Team demoed a different feature of the Raspberry Pi, while modeling the pedagogical practices so each of us could experience what the role of a learner (the way learning should be).  It was just enough to get us understanding one  of the the Pi’s superpowers and start us imagining the possibilities, leaving us motivated to go learn more.



The sessions included...

1) Overview of the Pi, Intro to Physical Computing by coding a a blinking LED and Button Switch using both Scratch (visual computing) and Python (TextBased Language) 









 2) An introduction to Astro Pi  and Interactive Art using the Sensor Hat. 

 I had heard about Pi Hats, but this was my first time using one — and what a powerful one.  Within minutes we were all shaking our Raspberry Pis to trigger an animation that we had coded using  Python





3)  Building in Minecraft using Python.  

As much as I try, I find that I’m not very 3D spatial, and this session reinforced that once more for me — but it really drove home the  point that coding a building is much faster than building one once you are trained to think computationally.  With so many students masterful Minecraft builders, what a fabulous way to personalize learning and connect to prior knowledge. 





4) Coding the PiCamera — who knew coding a camera could be so fun!  In a world where selfies abound, this session proved to be very popular.




5) Using the Explorer Hat to add Motion and Capacitive Touch with the Raspberry Pi. This session included a design challenge that had my teammates and I turning Babbage Bear into a hockey player who finally scored (after many iterations).  Many of us were not able to get the capacitive touch pads to work, so I'm not giving up on Makey Makey just yet.







We then gathered together  as a whole group again for  an overview of different scenarios for managing Pis into your school ranging from shared Pis using VNC to networking them using PiNET.


Finally it was time to switch gears and let our Imaginations run wild with ideas for a digital make!
With categories as a starter for our brainstorming sessions,  the sticky notes filled with ideas started to fly onto the whiteboard.  … leaving us pondering which of those ideas we might want to spend some significant time with tomorrow.   We walked out our first day with ideas percolating  and ready for find some dinner! 







Next Post... (more learning into the evening starting with a visit to Sam Patterson's Maker classroom.


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