Pi-Land in Minecraft – Map Download

Just over a week ago I posted about Pi-Island, a Raspberry Pi made in Minecraft with the main (not all) components on a pi. Mainly aimed at KS2/3 pupils to introduce the pi from a component/make up point of view and to promote discussion and interest in the Raspberry Pi.

After a few comments and a bit of feedback, here is the map ready to download. Yes, it’s for Pocket Edition but Craig Richardson (@CraigArgh) assures me the map can be imported into Minecraft Pi too, I was VERY pleased to hear this. Also, Adam Clarke (@thecommonpeople) also said we could wire it up to pocketmine.net and create a PHP mod (I’ll leave that one to him, I can’t wait to see it!)

The map can be put on any iOS device running Minecraft Pocket Edition, you will need to download the free program iFunBox (Windows), and connect your device(s) via the cable. Firstly, open iFunBox and click iFunBox Classic:

iFunBox Classic

Then, put the unzipped Pisland folder in the minecraftWorlds folder (User Applications>MinecraftPE>Documents>games>com.mojang>minecraftWorlds):
minecraftWorlds Folder

Disconnect the device, load up Minecraft and open the island map to take a tour around a Raspberry Pi in Minecraft!

Welcome to Pi-Land

I hope you like it, and look forward to seeing what else you do with it, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @MrAHeard

As always, enjoy!



Picademy – The Raspberry Pi Academy

It’s been almost a week since the Picademy began, and for me I suppose it held a different meaning to the majority of teachers that attended. I’ve had a Pi since day 1 when I was frantically clicking just like everyone else to get hold of one. Again, like most, I plugged it in, thought “Kewl!” And then it sat there for maybe a month or so until I cracked to open to have a real go at what it could do. For me, being a child who coded back in the 80’s and spent most of my young life on Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and the like, one of the first things I got it doing was retro gaming, this provided a spark of interest amongst the children in my school, most of which had never heard of the likes of Frogger! I digress, back to Picademy!
As a lead teacher at Picademy, I was invited because of the success I have had in integrating the Pi into the Tech-Dojo events I have organised at Ysgol Bryn Elian and for some of the innovative tasks I have had children complete using Scratch.
So bright and early on Monday 14th April 2014, we all waited in anticipation of what lay ahead. The agenda for the day was absolutely jam-packed, and rightly so. So much to cram in that was fun, relevant, useful, and had a deep learning outcome. We played with the PiCamera initially, something I’d yet to have a go with, I’ve got to say, the libraries of software that comes with this is impressive, with lots to do and learn along the way. It was at this point that my focus in Picademy took hold.

I was completely immersed in watching how teachers learn.

They obviously learn in the same way children do, and face the same issues children do, and experience the same things children do. Fear of embarrassment, exploration, discovery, awe, wonder, intrigue, sense of achievement, but then teachers have that extra facet to their learning, application. The conversations throughout the tasks often centred around where the best learning outcome was in the task for children. Of course there were many. Creativity, coding, and problem solving to mention a few.
Working with another Wales based colleague I guided him through coding in Python where we encountered syntax errors and then shared the joy when we were successful.

We then moved on to physical computing and experimenting with the GPIO pins on the Pi, coding traffic lights. A task I’d already completed with my Year 7 class using Scratch last term. Again, seeing how teachers tackled this was really intriguing. Here we were, only two sessions in and complete novices were confidently plugging in hardware.
This was a completely new experience for most of the teachers, but one which they all found a lot of fun and extremely rewarding. I heard lots of of people burst out with “Yes!” a few times when it worked as they wanted it to.
Next up was Minecraft, the tasks provided by Craig Richardson were absolutely brilliant and allowed all to code Minecraft using Python. Dave Honess couldn’t overstate just how much children love Minecraft and that by using this as a hook, once again, deep learning could take place. If you haven’t seen the Minecraft work by Craig before, it is seriously top drawer and well worth a peek! You’re children will love it!
What followed in the afternoon was a session using @SamAaron‘s Sonic Pi. Sam is one of the most inspirational, motivated coders with an absolute passion for what he does it was a pleasure to be in his company. He provided a session on Sonic Pi before everyone got coding music. It all went a bit disco/90’s rave by the end of it, but some great music was being coded across the room.
The second day began with talks from Eben Upton, Matt Manning, and Sam Aaron, before a day of hacking and making got underway. Lots of great projects took shape and teachers were busy playing with components, LED’s, PiCameras, and breakout boards. There was a real buzz in the air as everyone started hacking their projects.
Here is a video of our bullet-Time Babbage project, unfortunately, not the desired matrix style as we ran out of time, but not forgetting, the production as well as the filming of the video was all done on a Raspberry Pi!

For the Foundation, it’s vitally important that the whole Education arm is sustainable, particularly as far as educational resources are concerned. For that reason, we enjoyed a session on GitHub from Ben Nuttall about how best to go about documenting lesson plans and schemes of work. Lincoln even made an appearance here which he was very pleased with.
The event was wrapped up by Carrie Anne Philbin who did a superb job in putting this quality CPD together. Attendees shared their experiences of the two days before eagerly heading off on their individual journeys to a life of Pi.

For me personally, I look forward to mirroring the success of this event when I take Picademy to the teachers of North Wales this summer. One thing is for sure as far as the Foundations core aims are concerned building and getting the Pi to where it is now was the first part of the job, now, it’s up to educationalists alike to populate a wealth of resources to really take the movement forward so that computer science can once again become commonplace amongst our young learners.

Look out for more Picademy events in the future!

Take a Tour of Ysgol Bryn Elian Minecraft Style!

The Digital Leaders at school spent almost a year painstakingly creating a model of our school in Minecraft, for the most part it’s complete, there is the odd gap that could be tweaked, improved or extended. The most impressive things for me are the lighting system in studio 1, it comes on and goes off very realistically and functions through the use of some complex redstone built into a false ceiling. I also like the canteen with working dispensers, and projectors on the ceilings in the classrooms.

The map is absolutely huge and traversing it to capture video took almost ten minutes so I had to cut the video down a little.

Behind this task was a mass of communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, creativity, reasoning, and plain, simple FUN.

Get your class building the school in Minecraft, it’s one hell of a task with a superb end result that you can put on your website. It’s also great to let children tour it on/before transition days.

The ideal Raspberry Pi setup in school


So I’ve recently been adding bits and bobs to the Raspberry Pi’s at school and begun to face the same problem I’m sure many of you have. You find a resource/program/app to add and then you have to go and add it to all the other cards for the rest of the pi’s. Including all the little setup tweaks we like to have. Which got me working on my latest mission, create an ideal setup with the majority (as far as it can be) of software required for a school environment and then clone it to all the other cards, setup and all.

Here’s the list so far that includes additions from my PLN:

Weather Station – @heyiolo
XiX Music Player
xrdp – for Remote Desktop
Wifi and VNC – @boeeerb
Python pi-camera – @TommyBobbins

Some hardware suggestions:

Pibrella and 7 Segments of Pi (@Cyntech1) – @Geeky_Tim @recantha @gadgetoid

Adventures in Raspberry pi by Carrie Anne Philbin is also a must have!!

So what else do we need for the perfect setup for school? Tweet me at @MrAHeard and I’ll add your suggestions to the list.

Flappy Bird in Scratch

That cute little Flappy Bird has seemingly taken over the planet so in a fitting tribute to the fluffy fella I decided to have a go at coding it in Scratch for my budding KS3 Computer Scientists. Turns out its not that hard after all!

Below are the screen shots of the scripts so you can have a go yourself. Alternatively if you want to use it as a teaching resource or add to it you can find the Scratch file and all the graphics and sounds HERE, or you can view full lesson plans HERE.

Happy coding!!!

Pipe Script.fw

GameOver Script.fw

Bird Script.fw

Stage Script.fw

Video Arcade promoting KS3 Curriculum


At the recent Open Evening, I decided to turn one of the ICT rooms into a video arcade to highlight our game making work in our KS3 curriculum. The classic video games took visitors back to when arcades where vibrant, noisy, colourful and extremely fun to play in.

Using Scratch, we teach KS3 pupils loops, variables, and sprite interaction resulting in them producing a game they have designed. Last years results were very good and I can’t wait to see what our pupils have in store for us this year.

Today we hosted 14 pupils from Ysgol Plas who had great fun making the mobile device classic Angry Birds. They initialised variables, created movement based on conditions and implemented a scoring system and a means to record birds left, all in an afternoon.

I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did, and sincerely hope they grab the resources from my blog to continue with it. You never know, the next big game developer could be right here in North Wales.

Keep on Programming!!!

Angry Birds in Scratch

Angry Birds in Scratch

I hope you enjoyed your induction session in ICT at Ysgol Bryn Elian where we made the game Angry Birds in Scratch.

Scratch is a free download available here and is used to create interactive games.

This link will take you to a shared folder where you can find all of the resources from today’s session.

You can follow tutorial videos that explain each section of the game and how to code it, in addition to this there are tutorial sheets that you can follow.

Once you have finished those, there are extra sprites (birds) available for you to use, can you add another level? Tip: Use the broadcast message tool (look it up on Google if you need help)


Mr Heard