Mister C (aka Mark Calleja) interview

By Rob Zwetsloot. Posted

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is an educational charity that provides a lot of free teacher training, guides, and more for computing and digital making. With a lot of kids having to learn from home this year, the Foundation folks decided to try something new: a weekly Digital Making at Home stream hosted by Mister C, aka Mark Calleja of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

“As a response to the early days [of young people being home] here in the UK, the Foundation decided that in the absence of being able to attend school, it would be beneficial to young people if we could provide them with some educational content that they could engage with at home,” Mark explains. “Back when we started, the Foundation threw together a team of people to answer the question on what streaming and video learning content would look like and we all just sort of made the thing happen. We were filming in bedrooms and basements initially, with whatever equipment we had at home.”

The streams have evolved greatly since then to be a lot more streamlined and useful, and the Foundation also provides pre-recorded videos for students to follow along with.

How did you first learn about Raspberry Pi and related programs?

It was way back in 2014, when I was still teaching Year 3. I used to run a code club for my school and I was on the second ever Picademy, held at the old Raspberry Pi offices up on the hill in Cambridge. Since then, I’ve taught literally thousands of people with a Raspberry Pi – from six- and seven-year-olds taking their first steps in coding, to brainstorming ways for postgraduate marine biologists to maintain lab conditions, to the thousands of young people who run their code each year on the International Space Station as part of our Astro Pi project! I’ve been working with (and for) Raspberry Pi for quite a while, and now each week I get to host a live stream that is broadcast to the whole world, aimed at giving young people the opportunity to do some coding at home wherever they are. I’m very lucky.

What has the reaction been to the streams?

Really positive! We’ve had loads of guests from all over the world come onto the stream to discuss what they do, or do some coding with us – we’ve had people from all over the world as well as a few young people from Ireland and the UK. Now that we’re running at a later time each week, we’re able to get a lot more young people from the US to drop by for some practice in programming, both on and off camera. We’ve had environmental scientists, editors, inventors, and iconoclasts on the stream, as well as representatives from the European Space Agency and even one of the Founders of Raspberry Pi, Eben Upton. We’re taking a lot of what we’re learning and using it to help run online clubs, as well as training sessions for groups like the Scouts.

Any upcoming plans you can share?

This whole month on Digital Making at Home is about Self Care – we’re looking at ways you can create with technology that are therapeutic and stress-relieving during back-to-school madness. Have a look at rpf.io/home for more videos and info!

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