A closer look at the Raspberry Pi lab in my school


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This is where our Raspberry Pi project group meets & works

This is my first post in English, because it is meant as a reply to a question that was recently asked at the Raspberry Pi-Blog:  How should a modern Computing Classroom look like? I suppose this text is full of mistakes, but I hope you can understand it neavertheless.

First of all let me introduce myself: My name is Tobias Huebner, I`m a teacher, author and IT-trainer. Two years ago I started a project group at my school, the St.-Georg-Gymnasium In Bocholt, Germany for pupils at the age of 11-13. Never heard of Bocholt before? It`s located in the western part of germany, near the border to the Netherlands.

Well, I`m lucky that my headmistress gave me the opportunity to arrange my own little Pi-lab, where my pupils now can work with their Raspberry Pis. As you can see in the pictures, it is indeed a very small room, but it`s big enough for 16 pupils. I arranged the tables so they sit together in groups of 4, I also got 4 tables at the side of the room for those who`d like to work for themselves.

I wanted to make the room a place, where the pupils can explore how computers work and have a lot of fun at the same time. Therefore I did put a few objects in it like an old (but working!) Apple II Computer, an old motherboard as well as an opened up hard-drive and iPhone, so the pupils can have a look at the inside of stuff that`s normally closed.

I also shortened all the cables (for the mouse, keyboard etc.) with a cable binder, so that everything looks a bit tidier. I was also happy that I could get two old whiteboards where I can display the tasks, that we`re doing. Right now my pupils work on what I called „Push the button!“. They choose a program and an input method (such as an arcade button, a Wii-Remote or a capacitive touch-sensor) and then build a custom case.

To show them what all this could look like, I`ve built a small LEGO arcade-machine, which you can see in action in the following video:

Most of the monitors I use are connected via DVI, but I also got 2 old VGA-monitors which work fine with the basic HDMI-VGA-adapter you can buy for just a few Pounds. But the monitors take away a lot of space on the table, so I`m really looking forward to the HDMIPi-Screen. It would be a perfect replacement for those bulky monitors.

I`m also still looking for the perfect case. First, I bought ten „Adafruit Pi Box„-enclosures, but very soon, the small plastic hooks, which hold the case together, broke. So I switched to the Pibow-case from Pimoroni. They`re very tough and I love the different colors, but it`s quite difficult to get to the GPIO-Port. I recently bought the next generation, called „Pibow Coupé„, for my Raspberry Pi B+, and for now, I`m very happy with it. It seems to be the perfect case for schools, because it`s easy to use the GPIO-Port, but the Pi ist still well protected.

Unfortunately, the Pi`s haven`t got access to the internet right now, but I`m working on that. The room next door is a huge open learning space with lots of computers and laptops. So if they need to look something up, they can go there.

If you`re interested in what I`m doing – take a look at my Open Educational Ressources for working with the Raspberry Pi in schools. They`re in german, but I guess you can get the idea because there are a lot of pictures and I also used the universal language of code.

I also produced a video-training in cooperation with Galileo Press which comes in very handy when I need to explain the pupils some basic stuff about Scratch, Sonic Pi, Python or Minecraft. Again – it`s in german, but have a look at the trailer and you can also get an impression what it`s about.

So that`s it! Thanks so much to all the people at the Raspberry Pi Foundation – you made the world a better place! Hope to meet you one day in person!

Here are some more pictures (click to enlarge and read the description):

 

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