Sean Raser interview

By Rob Zwetsloot. Posted

Computer science teacher, Raspberry Jam organiser, and Code Club leader. Sean Raser sure loves to teach Raspberry Pi

Community role: Raspberry Jam organiser
Twitter: @sraser88

For a lot of the people who do a lot with Raspberry Pi, they’ve been here since day one – 29 February 2012. Sean Raser, on the other hand, didn’t even learn about Raspberry Pi until early 2015, but that hasn’t stopped him from teaching about it, putting on events about it, or running a Code Club using the Raspberry Pi Foundation resources.

Sean Raser, California-based Code Club leader and Picademy graduate

“I have held Jams in both my local community (Castro Valley) and through my school district (San Ramon Valley Unified School District),” Sean tells us. “I also teach ‘Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi’ classes through our local Education Foundation, which take place after school, as well as during holiday breaks and summer. I am also the leader of the Castro Valley Code Club, which I started just around one year ago (right after I attended Picademy).”

The Castro Valley Jam is his big community Raspberry Jam, with attendees from all walks of life trying out Raspberry Pi projects. Sean’s school-based Raspberry Jam is aimed more towards middle- and high-school students, though.

Sean enjoys teaching physical computing as part of his local Education Foundation scheme after school and during school holidays

Do you use Raspberry Pi in your high-school classes?

I absolutely do! I have used them a few different ways. I have used them as their own separate unit, where we spent a chunk of time dedicated to Raspberry Pi mixed in with other content from the class. I first introduced them, and then afterwards I let the students work on their own projects that they either chose or found online. They had a few weeks total to spend using them.

Another way I tried involved working them in throughout the class all year long. For example, I dedicated each Friday to Raspberry Pi. At first, they were taught how to use them, but afterwards they were free to be creative and either work on a year-long project, or many projects over the year.

California High School, where Sean teaches, joined in on the Big Birthday weekend

How was Picademy?

I attended Picademy Denver 2018, and it was, and has been, the greatest workshop I have ever attended. I learned so many practical things that I could take (and have taken) right back to the class and start using right away. Many of the classes I teach outside of school are based around the Picademy lessons, and when I introduce Raspberry Pi in my high-school classes I use many similar lessons from Picademy.

I like how most of the lessons have the participants just jump right in to the code, and explain it after they have seen it running. This was different from what I did before, but I have had a better experience with it this way. I met so many wonderful educators at Picademy that I still keep in touch with. The network of educators that you are introduced to and stay in touch with is the most amazing, beneficial part of Picademy. I would encourage anyone on the fence about applying to take the next step and apply!

Sean encourages people to try Raspberry Pi projects such as Trinket

Any Raspberry Jam advice?

When it comes to Jams, there is no right or wrong way that they have to be run or put together. I have found that they are all different, which is really what makes them such a great experience. Every situation is going to be different, and I have found that just going for it, while not always the best advice for every situation in life, has worked for me. I still get nervous the night before each Jam, but it’s a good, excited nervous. 

Also, I have always felt absolutely great after every single Jam. They don’t always run exactly the way I had planned, and there are always bumps in the road, but at the end of the day I know that the people who attended were able to meet, talk, code, share, and learn. Who could ask for a better day than that?  

Raspberry Jam sessions at California High School are aimed at middle- and high-school pupils

Fun with Minecraft

“One of my personal favourite uses I have gotten from Raspberry Pi is being able to expose my young son to coding at such a young age. He loves Minecraft, so being able to show him any basic Python programs that modify Minecraft blows him away. The Minecraft camera that can take his picture then build it in his Minecraft world blows him away.”

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