Scratch 2.0 on the Raspberry Pi

Exciting news! On Friday, Raspberry Pi announced the release of an update to the Raspberry Pi operating system, Raspbian, which includes an offline version of Scratch 2.0.

We often get questions from Code Club leaders looking to use this latest version of Scratch offline on the Raspberry Pi, so this update will be welcome to many!

Work on implementing Scratch 2.0 has been in progress for a while, as Simon Long details on the Raspberry Pi blog, and now the team has succeeded: a Scratch 2.0 application is available for the Pi 2 and Pi 3 – you can find it in the Programming section of the updated Raspbian main menu.


However, the team didn’t stop at providing an offline version of Scratch 2.0 – they have also improved the experience of physical computing on the Pi using Scratch. There is now a custom extension which allows the user to control the Pi’s GPIO pins without difficulty: simply click on “More Blocks”, choose “Add an Extension”, and select “Pi GPIO”. This loads two new blocks, one to read and one to write the state of a GPIO pin.


The Scratch team at MIT kindly allowed Raspberry Pi to include all the sprites, backdrops, and sounds from the online version of Scratch 2.0, so the cat sprite and its meow noise that we all know and love are present and accounted for. And you can even use the Raspberry Pi Camera Module to create new sprites and backgrounds!

Got questions or want to learn more? Head over to the Raspberry Pi blog.



Getting to grips with digital making at Picademy

‘Picademy? What’s it all about?’ I hear you say. Liz, Code Club’s Regional Coordinator for the North West, tells us more…

When I began volunteering with Code Club I had no idea what a Raspberry Pi is, and by the time I started working at Code Club I wasn’t that much wiser. So when the Google Garage came to Manchester, and with it a chance to attend Picademy, the free 2-day CPD programme for UK educators delivered by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, I jumped at the chance to go.

There are so many ‘best things about Picademy’ that I’m not sure where to start. The swag was fantastic, the tutors were brilliant, and the workshops were varied and inspirational. On Day 1, we’d covered Scratch GPIO, Python, Sonic Pi, and Minecraft all before lunch, and afterwards expanded our digital skills repertoire in workshops about the Explorer Hat and the Pi Camera. By the end of the day, I’d made flashing things, spinning things, noisy things, and so much more!

If I thought Day 1 was good, then Day 2 was amazing! It was so amazing that I forgot to stop for lunch, and I’m not the kind of person who does that often! Day 2 of Picademy is a hack day where you use your new skills and your imagination to bring something to life. My project was a hat for people playing Minecraft which lights up in different colours depending on which surface Minecraft Steve is standing on – totally useless, completely impractical, and definitely not something that’s going to feature at New York Fashion Week, but so much fun to make! I combined my new knowledge of circuits with some Python code and Minecraft linking, then did a lot of debugging and tweaking until everything worked as intended, and I finished with around 2 minutes to spare!

Each Picademy ends with a big show-and-tell where everyone presents what they’ve made, and there is a lot of laughter, applause, and shared insights. You then you get a badge, a certificate, and are welcomed to the Raspberry Pi Certified Educator community – I think I smiled all the way home!


I’ve been lucky enough to visit Picademy a few more times since then. First I gatecrashed the end of the Picademy at Madlab earlier this year, so I could loudly applaud the new batch of Certified Educators and see their creations firsthand. Then I attended a staff Picademy session at our Cambridge office where the team I worked with created a ‘mug shot’ device (a camera seated on a plastic mug!) that takes your photo, adds a cartoon, and tweets you the result.


If you’re is thinking about attending a Picademy near you, I completely recommend it. And if you’re not able to go to a physical Picademy, have a go at one of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s FutureLearn courses and really immerse yourself in the online community of Raspberry Pi-trained educators – you’ll get loads out of it!

If you’ve already attended a Picademy, make sure you take part in the Raspberry Pi Certified Educators survey 2017


#VolunteersWeek – Sharing skills with the next generation

It’s the final day of #VolunteersWeek, and we’ve been profiling the fantastic contributions of the people who help run Code Clubs across the UK. We spoke to James, a first-year student at Ulster University studying Computing Science. As a part of his role as a STEM Ambassador, James has been volunteering to run a Code Club at his former primary school, St.Colmciles in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.


With a previous connection to the school, it was very simple to get the club started. James visited there to make arrangements for how the club would be run. He says, “I had a meeting with the teacher involved, Mrs McAleer. We discussed suitable times and agreed to hold the club for one hour each Friday afternoon.” With the logistics planned, he was ready to get started!

“On the first day, 15 pupils attended and were very enthusiastic about the club. I started with a ten-minute presentation introducing coding to them. We encouraged the pupils to interact with each other and work in pairs, following a tutorial project devised by the school, as this was their first time using Scratch. When the pupils had finished the tutorial project and had a feel for how Scratch worked, they moved on to their first Code Club project.

“Over the following weeks, the pupils had a go at new projects from the Code Club website, which built up their coding skills, each project addressing a new concept per week. Throughout, I encouraged the pupils to seek help from myself and/or fellow pupils.”


James found that the club members all worked at different paces, but it was easy to adapt to the needs of the children. “Some pupils would spend more time on a particular project, and continued working on it the next week. I also encouraged them to ask their parents for permission to use Scratch online so that they could complete projects at home. If a pupil finished a project early, I asked them to try out the extra challenges, and to make their code more efficient, adding more functionality and/or more sprites with different features.”

Running the club has been really rewarding for James, and a great way to share his skills. “The children have each been rewarded for their hard work and creativity by receiving certificates, which I presented to them at the end of each set of projects. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of helping these pupils grow in confidence and knowledge whilst attending Code Club.”

Interested to share your skills with the next generation, and learn new skills whilst your at it? Head to our website for further details on volunteering as a student.