My Picademy Experience – Providence 2017 Cohort 2

I had heard how amazing Picademy was from a few folks I really trust, so when I found I was selected as one of the members of the 2017 Picademy cohort in Providence RI, I was really excited. I’ve played with RaspberryPi before, even using them in a few projects with students, but I had never felt like I had mastered how they could be used with students.

I’ve also been a huge fan of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, using their amazingly well produced website, magazine and project ideas in the past.

So when I applied to the program, I didn’t expect to get chosen. I figured I start applying for each session that they announce, and then maybe after my third or fourth application, they’d take pity on me and let me in. Instead, I was thrilled to be accepted on my first try to the Providience Cohort, hosted and Johnson and Wales University.

Living near Boston, I was lucky and didn’t need to fly in. Instead I drove the 45 minutes or so to Providence each day. The night before, they hosted an icebreaker at an awesome community makerspace/bar (two awesome things that should go together more often) AS220. It was a good chance to meet the organizers of the workshop, other Picademy students, have a tasty beverage and tour the makerspace.

Day 1 – “Taster” sessions

The next morning, arriving at Johnson and Wales, I felt the buzz as folks arrived. We were given goodie bags, filled with Raspberry Pi accessories we’d be using, a copy of MagPi and more. And, as Johnson and Wales is one of the top hospitality schools in the country, the snacks were excellent as well.

The actual workshop was one of the best organized and designed professional development experiences I’ve been a part of. RaspberryPi is all about learning by doing, and they designed each section with a balance between just in time instruction and time to explore.

The first day was focused on “taster sessions” where we would be guided through the use of different aspects of the RaspberryPi. Divided into two half groups, we learned how to:

  • Control physical components like LEDs through Scratch and Python
  • Use the Explorer HAT Pro to control motors
  • Hack Minecraft with the Raspberry Pi
  • Take and manipulate photos with the PiCamera
  • Use the SenseHat collect data, control the LED matrix and more.

Learning in one of the taster sessions.

Day 2 – Projects and Team Rocket

During Day 2, we were mostly given time to pitch ideas and build a group project. I ended up working in Team Rocket, where our goal was to create a flight computer that would capture data from model rocket launches, create charts and graphs of the flight along with photos, and tweet them when it was back within range of wifi.

Getting graphing going!

Our team was rocking, and made quick progress. In no time we had the Sense Hat recording data, creating graphs and tweeting images from our newly made @rocket_pi account

We found the following tutorials, along with the expertise of the Picademy staff, super helpful:

All the teams scrambled to get their projects ready to share with the rest of the group. Many teams (ours included) were finishing last features right up until the second before the presentation.

Team Rocket presenting the project

After presenting our projects, we were officially welcomed into the Certified Rapsberry Pi Educator program with a hardy handshake.

All in all, if they ever have a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Level 2, or let people retake it – I AM THERE! This was by far my favorite workshop and I feel super lucky to have been part of it.