Picademy – The best CDP you’ll ever experience

Picademy – The best CDP you’ll ever experience

Earlier this week I attended the Picademy CDP workshop in Manchester. Organised by Manchester Hive, hosted at the Google Garage, and delivered by highly experienced Raspberry Pi educators and community members, Picademy is a two-day workshop designed to create the latest cohort of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, and I was one of them.

I’m not entirely sure how to sum up my two days in one sentence. The word awesome just doesn’t seem awesome enough, I learned more than I can comprehend right now, and I have so many ideas on what to do with my new knowledge, that I don’t know where to start. So I’m starting here, and I’m sharing everything I experienced at Picademy Manchester.

Day one was, what can only be described as, a whirlwind of amazement being thrust into my brain so fast I’m not sure how it all managed to fit in. We learnt that the Raspberry Pi foundation is passionate about computing, as long as you’re using it to do something. It is this that sets the Raspberry Pi apart from a regular computer, it is through the GPIO pins that we are introduced to physical computing, and this is where the creativity comes from.


One thing to note about Picademy, is the swag bags. These are, by far, the best swag bags I have ever seen. Inside each bag we received;

  • MagPi Magazine – Educators Edition
  • 16 x Raspberry Pi project cards for teachers
  • Stickers
  • Raspberry Pi case
  • CamJam EduKit
  • CamJam EduKit #2 – Sensors
  • Raspberry Pi 2

In addition to all these amazing goodies, we had the privilege of becoming some of the first people in the country to receive the brand new Raspberry Pi 3! Released on the 29th February 2016, and going on sale for the same price as the existing Raspberry Pi 2, the Raspberry Pi 3 features;

  • A 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU (~10x the performance of Raspberry Pi 1)
  • Integrated 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1
  • Complete compatibility with Raspberry Pi 1 and 2

Once the excitement had died down, it was time for us to get to work.

PicademyThe day began with a quick look at Scratch, a simple drag-and-drop programming language designed to provide easy, quick, and very visual results for children who are learning how to code. Scratch is not something that’s new to me, as I have helped out in Code Clubs, created my own ‘Flappy Bird’ style game project for use in my workshops at MadLab, and I have also conducted train-a-trainer sessions for local libraries, teaching the staff how to use Scratch and set-up their own Code Clubs. Using Scratch on the Raspberry Pi isn’t a big deal, as you can use Scratch on any computer, but what you can’t do, is use Scratch to write programs using the GPIO pins. Very quickly we had LED’s flashing on our breadboards, and all controlled by just a few simple blocks in Scratch.

PicademyNext up we were introduced to some software available on the Raspberry Pi to introduce children to coding in other creative ways. Sonic Pi, is a live coding synth designed to help children learn to code by composing music. Minecraft: Pi Edition, is a version of Minecraft: Pocket Edition designed especially for the Raspberry Pi, and allows children to learn python by hacking the code. I really enjoyed this part of the day, having some experience with python, and also doing a little Minecraft Pi hacking as part of my previous Python Christmas Projects, I was excited to think how I could use these very basic tutorials in my own workshops. I also learnt not to write code that has you walk on fire, because you fall through the earth and die…..

PicademyThen it was time to start experimenting with HATs (Hardware Attached on Top) with the Explorer Hat Pro, where we learnt how to control a motor. With this in mind, we were let loose on the craft box and given a short amount of time to come up with a creative hack using the motor. I teamed up with Claire Foster, who thankfully, being the more creative of the two of us, came up with an amazing idea to do a rodeo for Babbage Bear. While she got to work on creating the elaborate Loch Ness Rodeo for Babbage to ride, I hashed out some basic code which allowed the motor to run forwards for a random amount of time between 1 and 5 seconds, pause for 0.5 seconds, run backwards for a random amount of time between 1 and 5 seconds, pause for 0.5 seconds, and repeat on a continual loop.

To finish the day we hooked up the Raspberry Pi camera module and learnt how to program the camera for selfies and video!


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