Category Archives: STEM Education

Raspberry Pi 2 (US $35) computer board features Scratch

Raspberry Pi 2 is a US$ 35 computer board to which you attach a monitor, keyboard, mouse and Ethernet connection. You can use the Pi 2 for web browsing and other functions, but it also comes with Scratch.

Scratch is a programming system that is very similar to MIT App Inventor. You can learn more about Scratch in our previous post on that topic!

But because one of Raspberry Pi’s goals is to advance computer science education, there’s a few pieces of bundled software that can help achieve that goal. This includes a drag-and-drop visual programming language called Scratch (great for beginners to create animations and games), as well as Sonic Pi (for creating electronic music) and more advanced programming languages like Python (also included).

via Surf Report: Taking a bite out of Raspberry Pi.

And speaking of STEM, here are some videos from yesterday’s Oregon City FRC FIRST Robotics Pacific Northwest District 2 (Oregon) robotics competition. 35 high school robotic teams took part, with Team #4488 “Shockwave” taking first by total points. I am biased: I am a volunteer engineering mentor with the Shockwave team, from Glencoe High School, Hillsboro, Oregon. Go Shockwave!

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Motion picture highlights high school robotics

Press Release – January 14, 2015 | USFIRST.org.
New Movie Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, George Lopez, Carlos PenaVega, and Marisa Tomei Highlights FIRST® Students’ Famous Underdog Robotic Victory against MIT

‘Spare Parts’ Debuts in Theaters Nationwide on January 16 Featuring Robots Built by FIRST Teams.

Watch the Spare Parts movie trailer on Youtube here.

FIRST Robotics is not App Inventor, but FIRST is a high visibility showcase of youth STEM programs. Since 2008, I have been a volunteer engineering mentor with high school FIRST Robotics teams. The 2015 FIRST robotics competition season is underway now.

To learn more about FIRST Robotics in your area, or to start a team, visit USFIRST.ORG.

The team where I volunteer (Shockwave Team #4488!!!!!) has implemented several Android apps using MIT App Inventor. One of their apps, a robotic-themed game based on the 2015 competition, is available in the Google Play store as a free download. Other apps are used by the team during competition to collect data on other teams, which is then analyzed in an Excel spreadsheet (written using Visual Basic for Applications code) to develop optimal competitive game strategies.

(Sorry for no new App Inventor code examples this week – had an ear infection for a few days that caused dizziness. Everything is okay now!)