What Andy Hearn did with his money…..

Andy won the High Performance Zone in 2012. We asked him to write us a brief report about how he used his £500. Here’s what he said:

Andy Hearn, Pi-Man

Raspberry Pis were my pledge should I win my I’m an Engineer zone.  Back then they were only just emerging into the public consciousness.  Now, as I write, these diminutive single board computers have long since made a big name for themselves.

The prize money had to be put aside until the one Pi per customer limitation was lifted, so there was a Christmassy feel in the summer when the large package arrived.

My delicious Raspberry Pis.

Two were dispatched to the schools that I interacted with over the two weeks of I’m an Engineer (hey schools, I’d love to hear back from you Re: the fate of these Raspberry Pis, whether they were put to good use or otherwise!), sticking with my promise to donate them – just because the kids we interacted with asked the best questions around!

Fast forward many months later: a local school has been trying to get its coding club up and running how they wanted it to for quite some time. A meeting with the ICT and Science department heads was arranged to see how a donation of Raspberry Pi’s would contribute towards coding and kids.

This meeting was an eye-opener for me. The demands on primary schools set by the new National Curriculum, with the Education Ministry expecting training costs to come directly out of school budgets, are, in my opinion,  grossly unjust. This could create a negative ripple-down effect because absorbing computing and coding is difficult enough for teachers in the first place (what can be further removed from everyday life?), never mind being immediately able to teach them.

Currently the coding club, and anything coding-related, is restricted to Year 6. This is due to a lack of teaching expertise as younger pupils won’t have the necessary support in place should they begin to (which they usually do) require more than what the school can teach.  Year 6 will then have a natural continuation of computing education and experience once they start their secondary school years.

So that was my cue to volunteer (re-read this as very easily persuaded) to begin to train the teachers, and the Raspberry Pi donation has transformed into an excellent prop for this task.  The plan is to get the teachers more than just comfortable with Scratch, before moving onto HTML and CSS (JavaScript might have to wait until after Python).

I’m setting (lofty?) aims to begin to incorporate Python with Minecraft (did you know that Minecraft on the Pi can be interacted with through Python?!) by the end of this school year.  At the least, we’re aiming for coding to be introduced to Year 1 and Year 2 as soon as the teachers are ready.

Some of the prize money also went towards attention-grabbing buttons, as seen in the photos below:

I’m easily identifiable as the one sans hair.

Teachers outlining the interaction between the “please-press-me-now” buttons and Scratch via the Pi.

It didn’t take long for the other to get stuck in too!

[Disclaimer:  The boys in the photos are none other than my own progeny, they have happily obliged to be guinea pig pupils for the interim 🙂  ]

 

Posted on February 18, 2015 by modantony in News, Winner Reports. Leave a comment

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