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Hack the Pi Review – Days 4-6


Our Hack the Pi series is going SO well, I love that I am in a natural groove now so the days are no longer hard to manage. What is also working very well is groups being able to go at their own pace. It’s nice because my students are all at so many different ranges in their computer science abilities, since its not a strict timeline students do not feel pressured or stressed about completing the hack quickly. I want them to enjoy computer science so I am trying to make the overall experience as fun as possible.

Issues for these days: 

Issue #1: Minecraft was not installed on all of the Raspberry Pi’s. Obviously this is something that I should have checked beforehand  – however I just assumed the Pi 2B’s and B+’s all had Minecraft installed.

Solution #1: I told the students to use their computer scientist skills and download & install Minecraft on the Pi’s. This was a surprisingly easy task for them to do! They all figured it out fairly quickly.

Issue #2 – Raspberry Pi power cords breaking.

Solution #2 – I warned the students that if the Pi doesn’t turn on for the next group that comes in then they will not be allowed to participate in the next Pi day. I explained how when they yank the cords out this ruins the cords and they no longer work. Since that announcement the students have been MUCH more careful regarding the Pi’s.

The issues I am having running these Hacks are getting fewer and far between which is an AMAZING thing! This past weekend I was able to attend Picademy and I had an AMAZING experience. I will detail it on my next blog post.


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Hack the Pi – Day 2 Review

Now that the second day is over I have a better understanding of the Pi in general, and how my Makerdays will be organized. There were less issues that popped up – yay!! The issues that did pop up I think I found resolutions for.

Issues & Solutions

Issue #1: When a period would unplug the pi to put everything away, the next period would come in and for many of the Pi’s it would ask them to go into recovery mode and they would have to re-download the iOS. I COULD NOT figure this out.

Solution: I realized the Pi’s were not getting shutdown the proper way, so this probably contributed GREATLY to why we continued to have these forced recovery of the iOS. Although we can shutdown on the start menu I wanted my students to use programming language whenever possible. Before they clean-up their station they now open Terminal and type in: sudo shutdown now. This has resolved the issue we had and the pi’s now load straight to the desktop once powered on. Yay!!

Issue #2: Once the Pi’s are powered down the correct way, students would still see the grey recovery mode screen when they powered the Pi up and they would hold down the shift key which would force them to re-download the iOS.

Solution: I had to explain to the students this screen will ALWAYS show. They only need to hold down the shift key if they power the Pi up & the screen freezes. Once they stopped holding shift every time they saw the grey screen the problem was resolved.

How I am keeping Track of Which Hack students are on?

Once I realized that all of the groups would be going at different paces I knew I needed a way to keep track of which Hack each group is currently on. I decided to print out attendance sheets for each period, instead of having the date listed at the top I just left it blank. On the top I filled in the name of each hack.

When students complete a hack they call me over to check their work and then I mark them off on the sheet. They are then allowed to move on to the next Hack. This has helped me TREMENDOUSLY because now I can easily glance and see which groups are behind and observe them to see where they are getting stuck. It allows me to better allocate where my time should be spent!

Well that sums up Hack the Pi – Day 2, please come back for future posts to see how we progress using Raspberry Pi in our classroom. Below you can see pictures as my students begin to use Python 3 on the Raspberry Pi, as well as a link to my second video.

Day 2 Video – Click Here

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Introducing Scratch with a Vocabulary Quiz Game


At the beginning of the school year I explain to my students that we will be integrating computer science into the 6th grade science curriculum. I explain to them the importance of being introduced to CS while they are in middle school and the career possibilities that await them. I explain to them how coding will help with their problem solving skills which is a VERY important skill for any scientist to develop.

Once we have covered most of the vocabulary in our first unit about the Scientific Method, I introduce the Scratch vocabulary project. Last year after Directing at an iDTech camp I became really interested in Scratch – this led me to finding the Scratch education website. The website has improved very much over the past year and I was able to find a lesson for a scratch vocabulary quiz game. I instantly fell in love with introducing Scratch by using this lesson plan. Continue reading

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3D Print Show Comes to California!


While scrolling through twitter last Friday I found out that the 3D print show was going to be hosted in nearby Pasadena. The way the conference is set up there is an exhibit area with what seemed like 20-30 3D printing companies who specialized in various products; in addition to the conferences that were planned throughout the two days. I signed up for the design conference since that seemed to best line up for what I was interested in.

It was very interesting seeing where 3D printing currently is and where it is heading for the future. I loved hearing Les Karpas talk about his company Metamason. I loved how he talked about how we are currently in the 3rd industrial revolution – this is the time where the United States and Europe can take back manufacturing from the East. Everyone can and will be doing their own manufacturing.  Continue reading

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New year, New goals.


So the year has started and that has led me to think of what are some goals I have for this school year. I think last year was a very successful first year at my new (and hopefully last) district. However I think I can always do better, so this year I will!

Goal #1 – Network & Present

I have realized that networking is a beautiful thing. Mainly because I have soooo many ideas in my head but I have no idea of how to make the dream in my head into a reality. Networking helps – a lot! I love the Bill Nye quote that says “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” That is so true – and instead of working myself to burn out I have found that it is more efficient to find colleagues across the world and grow our instruction together. Twitter is a great melting pot of ideas and I have found that it is a great place to share and get resources. Sharing my projects and ideas has been challenging with the limitations of twitter which is why I have started this blog. I also want to present at a conference to help increase my network of educators who have the same interests as myself.

Goal #2 – Make Coding Relevant

I have found that even though students love what coding can do for their future, they need some type of ‘project’ to wrap all of their learning up in. This year my 6th graders will be using CodeAcademy to learn Python. This past summer I bought a Raspberry Pi and it is my goal to get a class set of them through a grant from our district. Continue reading

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Save The Environment with 3D Printing Unit


So we got our 3D printer! We raised a little over $1,000 by selling our magazines at open house and then with the help of a GoFundMe campaign we raised the $3,000 we needed for many rolls of filament. This is a quick overview of the project my students completed and what I used during each phase.

First thing I did was create a calendar for the students, which they were given on Day 1. The unit began with the students learning how to design in 3D with a free program on Once students completed the course I assigned them to groups on Day 4 and they began to read an article about how 3D printing can positively affect the environment. I explained to the groups they are now tasked with creating a business that can create a 3D printable product which will help save the environment. After reflecting on this article they began to discuss what their group would like to design to help impact the environment on Day 5. Continue reading

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Why I want a Classroom 3D Printer.

The Ultimaker 2!

After incorporating coding into my curriculum I began to think of how I can make my students learning more hands on besides the earth science labs we complete every other week. After researching and scrolling on twitter forever I decided bringing a 3D printer into the classroom will drastically change how learning takes place. Instead of solely talking about various object or animals throughout history I will be able to print out artifacts for free from the smithsonian website so my students will be able to have a truly hands on approach to learning. Continue reading

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