Diving Deep

The past year has seen a continued emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in English-speaking countries.

The past year has seen a continued emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in English-speaking countries. The United Kingdom continues the programs encouraged by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the 2013 addition of computer science to the core science subjects in UK schools [1]. More recently, the BBC released the BBC micro:bit, an ARM-based embedded computer, as part of the BBC 2015 Make it Digital initiative [2]. Every student in year 7 (11- to 12-year-olds) receives the computer. Meanwhile, in the United States, the STEM Education Act of 2015 [3] was enacted, which "directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue to award competitive merit-reviewed grants to support informal STEM education" (e.g., museums, science centers, after-school programs). The STEM Education Act also adds computer science instructors to the list of teachers eligible for grants. The Australian government, on the other hand, has put forward an additional AU$12 million "to restore the focus, and increase student uptake of science, technology, engineering and mathematics" in primary and secondary schools [4].

Welcome to Raspberry Pi Geek. We have another issue of projects and information about small-board computers and their software, as well as microprocessors, sensors, and programming. First, discover the Raspberry Pi Foundation's new display, a 7-inch touchscreen that can carry the Rasp Pi on its back. Also new is the version of Scratch that comes with the recent Raspbian Jessie distribution. Our author shows how it integrates GPIO pin control through the new GPIO server.

In this issue, I take a look at the recently released RaspberrySTEM Creator Kit, which makes it easy to build projects atop its case with a full-sized breadboard, GPIO connector, and speaker. The kit also comes with a development environment that has lessons and projects in electronics and Python programming.

Do you want more sensors? We have sensors! A radio frequency ID (RFID) on your cat's collar can open a cat door day or night, so you can get your sleep. In another project, our author sets up a temperature and humidity sensor in a young friend's terrarium, so he can make sure his snake is living the good life. The Scratch column in this issue shows how to wire up a passive infrared (PIR) motion detector to GPIO pins for monitoring.

As you know, a project is never finished. You will always find ways to tweak, improve, or redesign your creations. You shouldn't be surprised, then, to see the automated greenhouse and SunRover projects that were featured in previous issues with updated designs and improved power management. Read our SwitchDocLabs column if you are interested in playing with the Internet of Things. The author shows you how to create a swarm of microprocessors with peer-to-peer communication.

You can read about all this and more, so grab your jumper wires, schematics, and code, and dive in!

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