Sonic Pi and the latest Astro Pi challenge

CMD<create>CTRL has been up and running for one whole month. Where next? Sonic Pi? More Scratch? More work with breadboards and GPIO pins? The robot is now held together by double-sided Velcro and elastic bands – time, perhaps to review the chassis and think about modifications/ improvements. I learnt something last week. I had purchased a power-pack for the Raspberry Pi so that the robot could be freed from the power cable but when the youngsters attached it there was no power. As I was wondering whether I had kept the receipt and whether I had time to return the ‘faulty’ item, one of the lads enquired, “You did charge it didn’t you?” Oops! To be fair, there was no documentation inside the box that the power pack arrived in so I had assumed that it was ‘ready to go” just like an ordinary battery. Two of the girls will not forget the traffic light sequence which they needed to program the red, yellow (=amber) and green LEDs that they had connected to their Raspberry Pis via a breadboard.

Girl holding a Raspberry Pi and Sense hat
Marian explaining her entry for last year’s Astro Pi competition

More about ‘Sonic Pi’. Most of the youngsters know that British astronaut , Tim Peake, is aboard the Russian space-ship currently circling earth. Many also know that school pupils were challenged last year to design and code experiments for Tim to carry out using a Raspberry Pi plus a Sense Hat while in Space. In fact, Marian won “highly commended” for her entry. Now there is a new challenge involving Sonic Pi: “After the success of the first competition, Tim is now looking for more students to write code for him to run in space. The Astro Pi Coding Challenges, launched on February 3rd, pose a specific problem to the students and asks them to solve it with code.”. . .”There are currently two challenges on offer, which are both music-based. The first asks students to write Python code to turn the Astro Pi into an MP3 music player, something that it was never designed for. The students will need to program the buttons, joystick and LED display to provide an iPod-like interface, so that Tim can plug in headphones and listen to music. The second challenge requires students to compose their own music using a tool called Sonic Pi. This allows music to be created using lines of code, and is a really fun and engaging way to learn to program. Tim will then use the MP3 player code from the first challenge to listen to the second challenge’s music on board the ISS. The competition is open to all primary and secondary school-age students who are resident in the United Kingdom, and it’s supported by a comprehensive range of teaching resources that are available for free on the Astro Pi website. The deadline for submissions is March 31st.”

Plenty to do on Monday  . . .



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