Raspberry Pi Bakeoff

13th December, from the backup vaults of David Whale’s email inbox…

Yesterday was the big pi bake off at north Hertfordshire college in Stevenage, where kids from high schools in the local area were invited to learn some coding on the raspberry pi.

There were three workshops – one on set up, one on hardware and the one I helped out with, networking.
The day started with arrival and meeting up with Ryan and David and then helping to set up a bunch of pis, then setting up and testing my demo, which took a little while and some further help from Ryan as my serial cable decided to register on my laptop as a mouse…
Ultimately I got WiFi working and my app running on boot so that I didn’t need to know the IP address. I checked I could change the LEDs via my surface and then left them down in the atrium and went upstairs to get ready for the oncoming students.

The sessions themselves started with a roleplay showing the way the internet works (concepts I only properly learned in networking last term) with the kids shouting the buzzwords on David’s flashcard (not including “Charlotte” though the kids got a little confused by my name and what I represented, a server…), the kids setting up their pis with support from the volunteers, and then changing their IPs to static and starting writing a chat program, first connected to themselves and later connected to the pi pair next to them via an Ethernet cable.

Overall it was a fun and exhausting day, and I think I managed to put out most of the fires the kids were having getting going.
It inspired me to try and get something organised in the new year in Bristol, not quite as big but something because it is such a rewarding experience teaching them to code and seeing their excitement when they get to talk to themselves via telnet (the same excitement I remember in the networking lab), and when I get back something in Hull.
A weird moment happened when a child turned looking for a teacher, saw me and said nervously “Erm can I go to the toilet please?”…I’m not old enough or wise enough to be a person to ask that question – having kids look up to you like that is kind of weird when I barely feel older than them…

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