Intro to Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python

Popfizz Computer Science is excited to announce its “Intro to Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python” course. Embark on a wonderful journey that will have you coding and building projects in no time! You will quickly see that Raspberry Pi is a diverse tool that will make you excited to dive into Python and Physical Computing.

About the course

The course consists of big and small projects designed to foster creativity, logical thinking, and the maker mindset. The course has two parts — learning Python programming and building projects using Raspberry Pi.

Depending on the course pacing, it may be covered in a semester or in a year.

  • Unit 1. Getting Started with Raspberry Pi
  • Unit 2. Learn Python (6 Units)
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Python Projects
  • Unit 3. Fundamentals of Circuits
  • Unit 4. Introduction to Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi. (6 units)
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Raspberry Pi Projects
  • Unit 5. Raspberry Pi Minecraft
  • Unit 6. The Final Project

The Maker Mindset in Education

All Popfizz courses are created in collaboration with expert teachers who have tested the curriculum for many iterations and refined it to work best in classroom settings. Nicholas Provenzano or The Nerdy Teacher took the lead. Nicholas is the Makerspace Director/ Technology Coordinator at
University Liggett School, Grosse Pointe Michigan. Nicholas has been active in the Raspberry Pi community, taught the subject for several years and trained many teachers through his work with the Code Club.

Nicholas is a big advocate of the maker mindset in education and has published several books on the topic. A Maker mindset cultivates an appreciation for failure, values reflection and playfulness.

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Here is an interview with Nicholas that illustrates how the maker mindset is weaved into the curriculum.

Q. What’s so great about learning CS with Raspberry Pi?

It’s like this Swiss Army Knife of makers.

You can use it for digital coding, you can do it for physical computing, cameras, lights, buzzers, sensors — it really opens up an infinite number of possibilities for any type of maker out there.

It’s the idea of taking something intangible like code and making something physical with physical computing. So it’s that idea of taking sort of the abstract and making it real and hard to touch and play with and to move. So I really like that opportunity to physically build things instead of just relying on the code.

Q. What fascinates your students about computer science?

For every student, it’s a little bit different. Sometimes the students love just the idea of coding games and using scratch or using Minecraft. Others want to build physical things. They like that idea of using a soldering iron and putting together a button and light system. Every kid approaches it differently but that’s what is so nice about Raspberry Pi and computer science, in general, is that it allows kids to pursue their interests because there are so many ways you can engage in those areas.

Q. What do students find most challenging and what do they find most rewarding?

I think the most challenging is patience. One of the things about coding and anyone would tell you is that there hasn’t been a coder alive that has written code that worked the very first time around. And I think for kids, it’s a really wonderful skill to work on when it comes to patience, proofreading, and debugging. So I actually, well it’s tough for them, it’s actually a really good lesson for them to learn about any type of problem-solving or critical thinking.

What do they enjoy the most out of it, or find most satisfying is the creation of the final product? Any person that has ever made anything, ever, anywhere you feel a sense of pride when you’ve created something and it works or does exactly what you wanted it to do and there are very few things that could replicate that feeling.

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So when a kid can feel successful in a classroom setting, whether it is with computer science, Raspberry Pi or anything else, that’s a win for a teacher.

Q. Who should take this course?

I think this course is great for anyone that’s excited to learn about Python, Raspberry Pi, and physical computing. Really you have to be open-minded for any new topic and Raspberry Pi is a great place to start if you are looking to engage in coding and physical computing in general.

Q. What can students learn from the course?

A little bit of everything. That’s what the best part of this course is, is that you’ll learn the basics to Python so it’ll allow you to explore very intro-level Python coding to super complex ideas of running a motion sensor with a camera, with a button, and with an LED and a buzzer all combined together so, by the end, you really feel like a python master of Raspberry Pi which is a great feeling to have because it opens up a world of possibilities for projects down the line.

Q. Is there anything you would like to share with the teachers who are trying this out for the first time?

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Be comfortable with failing. The best thing I can tell you is that the first time you are going to do it, you are going to mess up. You are going to put something in the wrong place, you are going to burn out an LED, your code is going to be wrong and it’s important to remember that this is how your students are going to feel. And if you get frustrated and give up, your students are going to get frustrated and give up.

So be open and honest with your kids that this is due to you and you are learning and they’ll actually be more comfortable helping you solve this problem alongside them as opposed to just giving up and moving on. So be prepared to fail but also be prepared to learn from those failures.

Watch the full video:

How do I get started?

Take the full course on your own, or with your class. Begin learning Python programming, then use the programming skills to control your Raspberry Pi board. If you want to jump right into building projects, you can simply watch videos and try them out.

What do I need?

For Python programming, you can use the online IDE provided by Popfizz or you can use any Python programming environment of your choice.

For Raspberry Pi components, you’ll need the following:

  • Raspberry Pi 4 Board and Micro USB Power Supply
  • Micro SD Card and Card Reader
  • Breadboard
  • Jumper wires – MM/ FM/ FF
  • Buttons
  • LEDs and resistors
  • light sensor (photoresistor) and 1 uF capacitor
  • PIR motion sensor
  • Buzzer
  • Camera

If you don’t have all the components, consider the Popfizz Computer Science Kit option which has everything you need at $115. Click here to order.

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For any inquiries, contact hello@popfizz.io.

Further Readings and Resources

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