T3 Lesson 8: Project – Make a Whoopee Cushion:


This lesson is an opportunity for students to have fun converting their understanding of the technology into something in the real world.  A whoopee cushion is a glorified button that can be made out of easily available materials.


This video from the Raspberry Pi Foundation has a very good description of how to make this project work.

The detailed instructions can be found here:


Our challenge is to make the audio files play using node red.  You can follow the video and install this extra output node that is capable of playing audio files.




If you found success or didn’t, please post a response in the forum.

T3 Lesson 7: Advanced Node-Red and the camera



Setting up a camera can be one of the more exciting activities for your students to complete.  It provides immediate feedback that is very gratifying and provides ample opportunity to explore what can be done.


Here is the basic tutorial for turning on a camera: The default for the image on the pi is for the camera to be enabled.

RPi Node-Red: Camera

Once the camera is taking photos, it wasn’t super difficult to incorporate a button into the sequence or any sort of a trigger that is based on an “if-then” scenario.  If the sonic sensor is an example of an analog device that collects data and can be set to trigger a photo when a certain threshold is reached.

RPi Node-Red: Sonic Sensor (HC-SR04)



T3 Lesson 6: Node-Red and programming the GPIO pins

Note:  This is divided into two section



This lesson introduces Node-Red and how it can be used to control the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi.   The first part of the lesson is seeing how Node-Red is a programing language that follows the basic concepts identified earlier.  The second part is in understanding the GPIO pins and how they function with and without Node-Red. A challenge activity that students build such as push button timer or stop lights will be available soon.


Here are three tutorials that you can explore with your students that all go over basic Node Red GPIO pin functions.

RPi Node-Red: RGB LED


RPi Node-Red: Push Button

RPi Node-Red: Buzzer


Post your reflection in the forum, if you are comfortable sharing.  We’d like to hear how it went and what we can do to improve this process.


T3 Lesson 5: Scratch and Basic Programming


This lesson teaches about some basic programming constructs using one of the simplest programming languages.  Many students will have been exposed to it, so if it’s not for your crew, skip it. There are enough advanced options that a student can make a very complicated program.  I think of it like legos – it’s a good space to play around and get familiar with the basic programming concepts.


Here are slides that can be helpful in introducing this topic.

Here is a link to my explanation of the Astronaut reaction time game.  The tutorial suggests that you use the older version of Scratch on your Pi, version 1.4.  It can be done with that or else you can use the slightly slower version 2.0.  Version 2.0 is identical to what you find when you use scratch in a basic computer browser.  It is Flash-based and it runs a little slower than version 1.4.


T3 Lesson 4: Computers, Raspberry Pi and the internet of things



This lesson is a presentation that is meant to open students eyes to the power of the Raspberry Pi.  We focus on the basics of a computer, input, and output, and share examples of cool projects that are done in a number of industries.  Biomedical, home security, seismology, environmental science are a few that can be shared. A discussion about the Internet of things (IoT) and how computer programs function will be valuable here.



In the slides, there is a link to the Code.org video – What makes a computer a computer – Its an excellent introduction to the idea of a computer and the way that it takes in and puts out information.


After going through the video here and sharing some of the photos of cool projects I try to get a discussion going in which the students have a chance to share what problems or issues might have been addressed with the technology.    If there is someone in your community willing to share their Raspberry Pi’s project in some capacity – this is a wonderful time.  The idea here is to build excitement for what is possible and then to get them ready for the challenging work ahead.


Post your reflection in the forum, if you are comfortable sharing.  We’d like to hear how it went and what we can do to improve this process.


T3 Lesson 15: Air Quality Sensors


Air quality is one of those topics that connects all of us.  It’s not difficult to find someone in your community who is sensitive to variations in air quality and is willing to share their story as a seed for an air quality monitoring project.   As I describe above,  our project with air quality sensors came out of the problem that our community in Hawaii faced during the 2018 volcanic eruption.


Setting up for this day depends on the resources that you have available to you.   In the story presented about Hawaii, we had students split up into teams of 3 to build air quality sensors for various areas around our region.   If you just have one, then you will want to emphasize more about the data that is collected and what it means than the building process.   Building the kit is pretty straightforward if you follow the tutorials below.

The connection with what the data means is the exciting part.  I would find someone in your community who is interested in talking with your students about Air Quality.  Once the students know how to manipulate the LCD screen, this can turn into a way for the Air Quality information (and other info) to be displayed.


Here are the building steps:
Here are the programming steps:
Here are the steps associated with programming the LCD screen:


You will know this is working on the specific level if students or you can notice changes in air quality after tweaking the environment slightly.  An open or closed door, any sort of dust and you should be able to detect changes.  On the larger level, if students feel comfortable applying this technology to a community issue then you have opened a huge door.  There are 3 sensors connected, nothing is stopping a student from identifying and setting this device up with more sensors that can send information to the cloud.   This basic sensor is like the gateway project to more remote monitoring projects.


T3 Lesson 3: Building the Box & Raspberry Pi Kits


Now that students are pumped up with the sense of efficacy that comes from building a brushbot, its time to switch to building a computer in components.  This is an example of an opportunity to hold space for the students to “figure it out” and continue on their growth mindset pathway.  Building the boxes can be done without much instruction given that the culture of growth mindset has been set.  Students figure out how to assemble the boxes in about 40 minutes.   If you have an hour, expect that students will spend the final part of class exploring the Pi and getting to know its features.


Preparing the space – Make sure that each student has sufficient space to assemble their kit.  If you have students that are working together, make sure they have sufficient space to spread out and that they have access to power nearby.   You can share the slideshow showing a guide and a quick video of the assembly process but try to refrain from giving too much directive.  It’s a puzzle and the pieces only fit one way.


It helps to have at least two people doing it at the same time, so they can compare and help each other with the process.  We purposely did not give step-by-step instructions because the challenge is figuring it out, using your growth mindset to not give up or get too frustrated.

Here’s a video of the process.

Once the box is together, the next step is to plug in the power, monitor and raspberry pi.  This will create a functioning computer loaded with the basics of a web browser and a few games.

I recommend checking that the box is assembled and that the screws are tight before handing the students the bag of electronic equipment.

Once the bag of equipment is handed out introduce the idea of physical inputs and outputs.

Share the short video about the anatomy of a Raspberry Pi.



Allow students to explore around on the pi and recognize that this is a fully functioning computer.  Students often become interested in Minecraft.  If there is a student that you identify as “minecrafter” you can ask them to take a moment to share their skills.

Celebrate the success that just occurred!  You’ve just assembled a working computer!!  Reflect on what you did well, and what things you could improve on for your next challenge(s).

Post your reflection in the forum, if you are comfortable sharing.  We’d like to hear how it went and what we can do to improve this process.


1.1 Box Build

If you are setting up the box for the Raspberry Pi Kit, here are the steps you need to follow.

Step 1: Glue the bottom of the box together. Use a tiny bit of glue on each tab. Let the box dry for at least 2 hours.

It should look like this:

Step 2: Screw the hinges

Step 3: Screw the hinges on to the top part of the box with the screen attached.  Be sure to insert the HDMI cable and the power cable for the screen through the appropriately sized holes.

Step 4: Put the side panel on the box lid.

Step 5: Put the top of the box on.

Step 6: Put the post screw with the wooden hinge on the side panel, make sure to align with the hole in the base.

Step 7: Fit the side panel with the hinge on the box and do the same thing on the other side.

Step 8: Connect the wooden hinge to the box with another post screw

Step 9: Put all the screws and square nuts on the sides of the box

And your done!!

1. Getting Started

In this lesson students will learn about the Raspberry Pi computer and the components provided in the kit.  Having a completed kit as an example will be helpful but not necessary.  Begin by showing this short video about a raspberry Pi.

If the boxes have not been assembled have students refer to this post for building instructions.

The kits include these parts:

Raspberry Pi 3 + support
  • Raspberry Pi 3
  • Micro SD card 16GB – With Raspbian
  • Micro USB Cable
  • USB Power Supply 3 Port
Screen / Interface Parts
  • LCD 7″ 1024×600 with speakers
  • 30CM HDMI Cable
  • Keyboard – wired compact – full size keys
  • Mouse – wired retractable cord
Accessory Parts
  • RPi Compatible 5MP Camera – Not official
  • RPi GPIO Reference Card
  • Jumper Wire 20pcs 20CM 2.54mm M-F
  • Jumper Wire 20pcs 20CM 2.54mm F-F
  • Jumper Wire 20pcs 20CM 2.54mm M-M
  • Alligator clip jumper 2 pieces random color
  • Breadboard 400 holes
  • 5x LEDs 5MM
  • 4x Push Buttons – Breadboard Compatible
  • 20x 100R Resistor
  • 20x 330R Resistor
  • 20x 470R Resistor
  • 20x 1K Resistor
  • 20x 10K Resistor
  • 20x 100K Resistor
  • Piezo passive speaker
  • PIR infrared motion sensor
  • Ultrasonic Distance Sensor
  • DHT11 humidity + temp sensor
  • RGB LED Ring 12 pixels – WS2812
  • 2x 9g Servo
Growth Mindset
  • 2x Brushbot kit

The video below introduces the various components and describes how to to power on the Raspberry Pi computer.

LCD setup 7″ 1024×600

Screen manufacturer page

The config.txt file on your SD card must be modified to include these lines in the HDMI section – this tells your raspberry pi the correct resolution to use.

  • If you are using one of the pre-configured SD cards or images from our kit then this has already been done for you.
hdmi_cvt 1024 600 60 3 0 0 0