Continuing with aerospace connections and this week’s Hour of Code, UK astronaut Tim Peake and Raspberry Pi have teamed up to create a competition for projects to be used on the International Space Station.
There is now a new board called the “Astro Pi” that will be the basis for this competition. The competition is only for UK students, but this board and this competition model can be applied anywhere. Let me explain…
Say you are a teacher or parent or community member who wants to introduce fun, hands-on, and practical coding and engineering skills into school. (That’s the purpose of Hour of Code as I wrote about here earlier this week.) You outline a plan to acquire an Astro Pi unit here:
(I don’t see a price yet, but we can come back to that later.)
If this is your first foray into RP, you’ll need to learn what else is required. Or better yet, find a nearby person who is already using them in your school district. If your school has a Maker Club or robotics club or computer/programming club, I would start and connect with them. This would be a natural fit and addition.
For funding to purchase what you need, there are lots of options. It takes dedication and resourcefulness, but so does everything worthwhile, right? There is gofundme.com, your local school district, personal appeals to parents for a donation, or local chapters of professional societies like IEEE or AIAA. If the local chapters don’t have funding they might be able to connect you with the national offices that have programs for teachers. I know that AIAA offers classroom grants for teachers with specific projects that are within the $200 range.
Then, running a challenge or competition-style event is very effective. I know the ideas of competitions are sensitive topics in schools today. There are ways to make it fair and encouraging, which you want to do to encourage collaboration, teamwork, and cooperation. But other kids benefit from some competitive spirit (and competition is very much a part of the real world). Let me recommend you contact me or reply here if you want more info or discussion on this because I have experience and other experts on this topic.
Here’s the story with a short video on the UK competition. Share it with others if you think this is worth doing for yourself or in your educational neighborhood!
I’ll also mention, if you are in college and there isn’t anything like this in your department…why not? If middle and high school-age kids are able to design and build computers to go on the space station, why not you?