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Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python

Explore the exciting world of physical computing and create electronic circuits that you can control with code.

Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study2 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $44Find out more

Learn the benefits of using physical computing with your students.

On this course from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, you will be introduced to the world of physical computing. You will use input devices to capture data, process that data with the Python programming language, and then use output devices to get information back out from your computer.

Along the way, you will learn how to use the principles of sequence, selection, and iteration in your physical computing programs. You will also learn some foundational electronics to help you create the circuits that you will use.

In the final week, you will create a physical computing project of your own.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds How can you control an LED using code? How can you make a computer react to the wave of your hand? How can you control Python programs using selection and iteration? This free course will introduce you to the Raspberry Pi computer and how to use it in your computing projects. You’ll learn how to interact with electronic circuits using code in a variety of input and output devices. And you’ll take part in practical activities to design and create your own physical computing project. This three week course also contains peer-led discussions, trainer interaction, and feedback on your knowledge as you progress. You can learn whenever and wherever you want.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds So whether you’re a teacher with students of your own, or simply curious about programming and electronics, this course will help you take your first steps into the world of physical computing with Raspberry Pi and Python. Sign up now at rpf.io/physicalcomputing.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    From 7 Sep 2020

    Physical computing and outputs

    • Welcome to the course

      Meet the facilitation team and your fellow learners.

    • Get to know your tools

      Discover the kit you will be using throughout the course: your components, the Raspberry Pi computer, and Python.

    • The first output: LEDs

      Take on the first physical computing challenge: creating light with an LED.

    • Output devices

      Explore the final stage of the computing cycle, using output devices to create real-world reactions to your programs.

  • Week 2

    From 14 Sep 2020

    Inputs

    • Welcome to week two

      Welcome to the second week, in which you will learn how you can gather data with input devices.

    • Push the button

      Learn how your programs can react to a user pressing a button, the first input device in the course, to trigger amazing things.

    • Sensors

      Add senses to your projects by using automatic input devices in your programs to capture physical properties.

    • More complex inputs

      Some inputs are not like the others. Learn to use complex devices that require files to save their inputs: cameras and microphones.

  • Week 3

    From 21 Sep 2020

    Physical computing projects

    • Welcome to week 3

      Welcome to the third week. Learn how you can take advantage of the Raspberry Pi computer to add extra functionality to your projects.

    • Project based learning

      Take all your physical computing skills and put them to work, creating your own project to solve a real-world problem.

    • Case study project

      You are not alone on this journey. In order to show you how you can work though the design process, you will meet my project: FLOSS bot.

    • Prototyping and Manufacturing

      Your project is going to need some sort of housing. How can you take it from a bundle of wires to a working prototype?

    • Share your projects

      You have done a lot of work this week. Share that progress with your fellow learners.

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

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.
  • Identify 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 teachers who deliver lessons at GCSE level or equivalent, and for beginner makers looking to develop their knowledge of electronics and programming.

What software or tools do you need?

During the course, you will use Python 3.

You will need:

  • A Raspberry Pi computer and peripherals:
    • A keyboard
    • A mouse
    • A monitor
  • A selection of components to use in your projects:
    • A breadboard
    • 6 male-to-female jumper cables
    • 3 LEDs (of different colours if possible)
    • 3 330-ohm resistors
    • A buzzer
    • A button
    • A PIR sensor
    • A Raspberry Pi Camera Module (optional)
  • Craft supplies:
    • Cardboard
    • Pencils
    • Glue, tape, or another type of adhesive
    • Scissors or a craft knife

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?

I lead the Raspberry Pi Foundation's efforts to support educators with resources and training. I'm an experienced computing teacher, an advocate for diversity in tech, author and a YouTuber.

Who developed the course?

Raspberry Pi Foundation

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

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