African schools join global science project

28 April 2015

Oracle Raspberry Pi Weather Station for Schools is an ambitious project to join thousands of schools in Africa and around the world in a global science experiment.

Organisers Oracle Academy and the Raspberry Pi Foundation said participating schools would receive a Raspberry Pi hardware kit for students to build and operate their own weather station. The aim is to gain valuable skills spanning computing, meteorology and geography. Interested schools must register on Raspberry Pi’s website.

The first 1 000 kits have been funded by a grant from Oracle Giving, which along with Oracle Academy, is part of Oracle’s philanthropic efforts. The kits will be provided to schools free of charge while supplies last. Half of the free kits have been set aside for Oracle Academy schools.

In addition to building a weather station, the kits teach students to write application code that logs a range of weather data, including wind speed, direction, temperature, pressure, and humidity. Supplemental teaching materials for classroom use will be made available on the Oracle Academy website.

Teaching computer science

The Oracle Raspberry Pi Weather Station project, officially launched on 23 April, is targeted at students aged 11 to 16 years old. They will be asked to write applications to operate their weather station and record data in a cloud-hosted Oracle database, which they can then query through SQL (Structured Query Language) elements developed in collaboration with Oracle Academy. They will also develop a website on Raspberry Pi to display local weather conditions that can be accessed by other participating schools.

Additionally, students will be able to access a Weather Station for Schools microsite to blog about their experiences, interact with other participating schools around the globe, and receive online technical support.

“From application programming to database management, computer science skills can lead to rewarding and fulfilling careers,” said Jane Richardson, the director of Oracle Academy EMEA.

“Our goal with the Oracle Raspberry Pi Weather Station project is not only to show students how computer science can help them measure, interrogate and understand the world better, but also to give them hands-on opportunities to develop these skills. We believe this is one of the best ways to inspire the next generation to take up the computer science roles that economies around the world need filled.”

Data management and SQL

Eben Upton, the chief executive of Raspberry Pi, said the “ambitious project” added another string to the Raspberry Pi bow, using the Raspberry Pi to introduce children to the art of data management and SQL.

“The kits themselves are really exciting, containing everything you would expect from a fully-functioning weather station. We’re confident that students will find the project a very engaging way of learning new and useful skills, and that they’ll have a lot of fun in the process.”

It was exciting to support this global learning initiative, which aimed to generate awareness and interest in computer science and the natural world, said Colleen Cassity, the executive director of the Oracle Education Foundation, and Oracle Giving and Volunteers. “The project will help to ensure that the next generation is well-prepared to lead and create value, not only in the digital economy, but also in the global community.”

Following the distribution of the 1 000 free weather station kits, they will be made available for schools to purchase at a later date.

Oracle Academy provides a complete portfolio of software, curriculum, hosted technology, faculty training, support, and certification resources to education institutions for teaching use. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity set up in 2009 to promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing. The charity makes the Raspberry Pi computer, which is used all over the world by teachers, learners and makers.

Source: APO