We love hearing about teachers' experiences with our products, especially when they help bring computer science knowledge to their classrooms.
This feature was submitted by the runner-up winner of our CSEd Week Challenge 2021, Justin Higgins, a computer science teacher at Thorpe St. Andrew School & Sixth Form. Higgins has been a computer science and technology teacher for over 20 years and won his school a set of 12 Electronics Supersets!
Seeing the learning opportunities the supersets offered his students, his school went on to purchase the Robotics Supersets as well! One year on, he shares his experience with our products.
- Name of district and school:
Thorpe St. Andrew School & Sixth Form
- Location of your district:
- What grade/s do you teach?
Middle School & Junior-High, ages 7-13
- What subject/s do you teach?
Computer Science and IT
- How long have you been teaching these subjects?
Over 20 years
Tell us more about your experience with using technology for computer science and/or STEAM subjects...
Q. How long have you been teaching computer science/technology?
A. I have been teaching computer science and IT-related subjects to middle school and high school students for more than 20 years now.
Q. What technology products do you use to teach computer science and STEAM/STEM in your school?
A. Our school uses Raspberry Pi's, Cam Jam kits and most recently, the Robotics & Electronics Supersets from pi-top.
Q. What are some of the challenges you face in teaching technology/computer science?
A. Configuring tech equipment in time for an hour-long lesson can be difficult and perhaps even harder, is the ability to keep track of all the components. Electronics kits are generally made up of small and fiddly components which make them easy to lose or even break.
Did pi-top products help you solve any of the challenges mentioned above? If yes, how?
A. Yes, they did! pi-top 's are super easy to get out at the start of the lesson. After a quick set up, I was able to use them with the class and make the most out of the hour. Being able to wirelessly connect to the online lesson library, Further, made it quick and easy to pick up from where we left off and have everyone follow along.
Tell us about your experience with pi-top...
Q. How did you discover pi-top products?
A. I first came across pi-top at one of the stalls at the BETT show, several years ago.
Q. Do you use our lesson platform Further?
A. Yes, it's great in that is has plenty of courses and activities for varying levels of ability. It allows me to switch between challenges based on the skill-level of the class I am teaching.
Q. How easy or difficult was it for you to get started using your pi-top products?
A. It was initially difficult to get the pi-top 's connected to our school network but our technicians were ultimately able to with support from the pi-top team.
Q. Is there anything that you or your students absolutely love about using pi-top products?
A. What I, personally, loved about using pi-top products was how easy they were to get started with after the initial configuration.
My students and I also enjoy the range of lessons and activities to engage with on the Further portal. Lots of content for all different ability levels. The kids also particularly enjoy getting to play around with some physical equipment and make something happen in the real world. They get to watch their work come to life!
Q. Is there anything that you or your students don't like?
A. No, we're really enjoying them so far - except for the noise the buzzer makes!
Q. What is your favorite project (or what is your students' favorite project) using pi-top products?
A. Currently, the students are making their way through the basics of the Electronics Supersets and they appear to be really enjoying the Level 1 pathways so far.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about your experience with pi-top?
For a number of years I have been trying to get physical computing into the classroom, without much success. While Raspberry Pis are the ideal addition to the classroom, they proved too timely to set up. Instead, the pi-top  turned out to be the perfect answer! The pi-top 's are quick to set up and get started on with students and the Supersets they come with are very well made, robust in scope and work really well. The Further lesson platform really ties it all together, incorporating the physical components with lots of engaging online activities, that students of all ages and skill levels are able to take on.
If you or someone you know has had an experience with pi-top like Justin's, we want to hear it! Not only are we looking for five teachers to feature on our website, they also stand the chance to win our Electronics & Robotics Superset.
Click here to submit a story.