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My reflections on Astro-Pi competition

Today we submitted our entry for the Astro-Pi competition in the year 7 and 8 age group.

It has been an interesting few weeks working on our project with my students.

AstroPi

After a slow start we got our hands on the Astro-Pi board and instantly loved it. We liked the sensors and the ease at which you could get information. We really liked to simplicity of the LED matrix and how easily you could display messages and create pictures and logos.

We decided on a project brief: Do Chemical reactions happen the same in space? We had the idea of using a glow stick to represent the chemical reaction and use the Pi to record both data and photos of the glow stick changing colour.

If I am honest I am sure that there will be many more worthy entries in the age group, but we are ok with that. We don’t teach CS at school so all the programming knowledge and understanding has come from our Raspberry Pi club.

I feel that we have got lots out from the process (sounds like the Apprentice) and in this blog I want to sum up what it has meant to me as the teacher and to the students.

So I guess the first place to start is with the code:

During the project I produced some simple work cards that the students used to develop little nuggets of code which would be used in the final project. These included:

  • Displaying text and designing patterns on the LED maxtrix
  • Collecting data from the sensors
  • Using the Raspberry Pi camera and designing a time-lapse system
  • Writing data to a file and saving data

Alongside this the students also had a great opportunity to work together on the project.

  • Social skills - working together students from different year groups and different abilities
  • Team work - having a team leader and delegating different aspects of the project
  • Creatively thinking through a problem and working out solutions.

An obvious and very important consequence of the project was that the students talked about code, space and the ISS.

I am really pleased that we entered. The students now have lots of awesome ideas of things they want to try with the board as we move into the post-competition period.

I will post our projects code here in a few days time.

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