Mastering the Raspberry Pi and back-up plans | Society for Science & the Public
Previous Story:
Getting their STEM on
Next Story:
Building robotic blue crab arms at the Chesapeake Bay
Broadcom MASTERS

Mastering the Raspberry Pi and back-up plans

October 31, 2016
Members of the white team code a Raspberry Pi as part of their team challenge.
Members of the white team code a Raspberry Pi as part of their team challenge.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SOCIETY FOR SCIENCE & THE PUBLIC/BRADY.

Day Two of the Broadcom MASTERS got off to an exciting start with the first group challenge, Rube’s Raspberry Challenge, organized by the Computer History Museum.

The Challenge: “Each team must collaborate to design, code and build a system that receives the input of a rolling ball to turn on an LED. The ball must interact with an input device connected to a Raspberry Pi computer, to trigger a piece of code with will turn on a light. Creativity is encouraged!”

With 90 minutes on the clock (and another 10 thrown in as a bonus at the end), each Broadcom MASTERS team got to work on the project led by the Museum’s Kate McGregor, Manager of Family and Computer Programs, and Maya Makker, Educator, Community Programs. The energy in the room was evident, as the students collaborated and discussed how to solve the problem using their materials, which ranged from electronic elements, like wires and sensors, to everyday household items such as aluminum foil, colored tape, and cardboard.

Finalists use their materials to build a system that receives input of a rolling ball to turn on an LED.  ~~ Photo courtesy of Society for Science & the Public/Brady.
Finalists use their materials to build a system that receives input of a rolling ball to turn on an LED.  Photo courtesy of Society for Science & the Public/Brady.

While the focus of the project was on computers and coding, the students quickly learned it was more about figuring out how to work and communicate as a team.  And back up plans.  Every team learned that they needed more than one back up plan – and that their back up plans needed back up plans.

After a tense 100 minutes, the teams presented their projects and shared both challenges and lessons learned. While each team’s solution differed greatly, similar themes echoed throughout the room, as each student discussed lessons learned.  Those themes included: better time management, learning to work together, communicating better with one another, remaining determined throughout the process, and being flexible enough to understand the need for a back-up plan (and a back-up plan for your back-up plan).

During this challenge, the Broadcom MASTERS finalists worked with a small programmable computer called a Raspberry Pi.  ~~ Photo courtesy of Society for Science & the Public/Brady Robinson.
During this challenge, the Broadcom MASTERS finalists worked with a small programmable computer called a Raspberry Pi.  Photo courtesy of Society for Science & the Public/Brady Robinson.

While everyone wasn’t able to fulfill the challenge of lighting their LED light (Red, gold and purple got their lights to turn on), each student walked away with a greater understanding of Raspberry Pi, the importance of team work, and how the engineering design process really works.

Nikolai Ortiz and Eleanor Sigrest coded a Raspberry Pi to turn on a light in one of their challenges. ~~ Photo courtesy of Society for Science & the Public/Linda Doane.
Nikolai Ortiz and Eleanor Sigrest coded a Raspberry Pi to turn on a light in one of their challenges. Photo courtesy of Society for Science & the Public/Linda Doane.
Members of the purple team collaborate on the challenge. ~~ Photo courtesy of Society for Science & the Public/Linda Doane.
Members of the purple team collaborate on the challenge. Photo courtesy of Society for Science & the Public/Linda Doane.