Online course in Science, Engineering & Maths

Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python

Create simple systems that respond to and control the physical world using the Raspberry Pi and Python. Supported by Google.

Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python

  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Weekly study 2 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $44 Find out more

Why join the course?

Over four weeks, you’ll develop your knowledge of simple electronics and computing, setting up your Raspberry Pi and writing your first program using the Python programming language.

You’ll apply your newfound knowledge to a series of challenges, including controlling an LED with Python, using a button press to control a circuit, and making a button and LED game.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll also have the chance to develop ideas for using the Raspberry Pi and Python in your classroom, and to connect with a network of other educators.

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What topics will you cover?

  • Introduction to the Raspberry Pi computer. Explore setting up the Raspberry Pi hardware and software and booting your Pi for the first time.
  • Write your first simple Python program, and make a simple reaction game.
  • Consider the importance of success and failure when learning.
  • Discover how simple circuits work, how to connect an LED to your Raspberry Pi, and how to switch your LED on and off using Python code to create light sequences.
  • Understand different kinds of input devices that can be used to sense the real world. Connect and take input from a simple button, and learn how to build your own buttons from simple craft materials.
  • Apply your knowledge about physical computing to create a digital making project that is shared with and reviewed by your peers.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now
    This course started 10 June 2019

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Develop understanding of how the Raspberry Pi can be used as a tool for physical computing.
  • Apply knowledge of programming concepts to control digital inputs and outputs.
  • Explore practical applications of inputs and outputs to make a project.
  • Reflect on your learning and create ideas for your classroom practice.
  • Identify ways of engaging learners in physical computing in your learning context.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in Physical Computing.

It will be of particular use to non-subject-specialist teachers, computing teachers, and design and technology teachers who are interested in using the Raspberry Pi and Python in their classroom.

What software or tools do you need?

  • a Raspberry Pi (models B+ through to 3)
  • a microSD card (8GB minimum) with our Raspbian operating system installed
  • a monitor and HDMI cable (or VGA adaptor)
  • a USB keyboard and mouse
  • a 400-point breadboard
  • 3 LEDs, a button, 330Ω resistors and jumper cables (male to female).

What do people say about this course?

This course is excellent. It's vital to think in terms of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Maths) and combine as many as possible when doing fun things.

David Sutton

I loved the course. I have been working with the Raspberry Pi in the classroom for more than a year. I am by no means a gifted programmer, yet I found the programs in this course very simple to learn. Nevertheless, it is greatly motivating, and I managed to convince 4 colleagues to take the course so that, in the near future, our school will have a team of 5 teachers with basic 'Pi skills. We'll be setting up new projects and a proper Pi-lab soon!

Ivan Lietaert

Who will you learn with?

James Robinson

James is an experienced Computer Science teacher who runs the Raspberry Pi Foundation's teacher training Programme called Picademy. He still plays with LEGO and drinks lots of tea.

Who developed the course?

The Raspberry Pi Foundation works to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world, so they are capable of understanding and shaping our increasingly digital world.

National Centre for Computing Education courses

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