Bett 2018 – Show Recap

It might sound like a cliché, but it’s crazy how time does fly! A couple of weeks ago we were sharing our enthusiasm about attending Bett 2018 and now we surprise ourselves writing a show recap.

Like every year, we had an amazing four days at one of the world’s leading education technology shows. It was chock full of activities; engaging workshops, interesting talks and extraordinary people that, like us, want to empower students to become collaborative, critical and creative thinkers. So, without any further ado, these are some of the show’s highlights!

pi-top winning!

award winner pic

We are chuffed and incredibly proud to announce that we won the ‘Innovator of the YearBett 2018 Award. This is the second year in a row that we take home a Bett award – last year we won ‘Start-up of the Year’ – so massive props to the team!

Winning ‘Innovator of the Year’ means a great deal to all of us, as it’s an important recognition of the great work that we’ve accomplished over the last year. Plus, it raises the bar for what we now want to achieve in 2018 and beyond…

Hands-on STEAM education workshops


We managed to get everyone making, creating and innovating with our modular products during our fun workshops. They were focused on solving problems together, applying knowledge and inciting learners to discuss with others what will work best.

Bett Talks

180125_PiTop_NIKON 2 - STAGE_0799

We passionately believe that Collaborative Problem Solving is an essential skill in education and a basic necessity for the 21st century workforce. It is undeniable that the world is changing at an overwhelming pace and, as educators, we should all be thinking of how to equip our children with the skills to thrive in this transforming society.

As Jesse Lozano, pi-top’s CEO, explained in his keynote, the reason we wake up every morning is to design an inspiring learning by making ecosystem that supports students in the development of critical and creative skills while empowering educators to achieve their goals.


We also hosted two talks on Collaborative Problem Solving from the educators’ and students’ perspective. Both were hugely enlightening and clearly demonstrated that our education system needs to evolve and adapt to both educators’ and learners’ needs.

Drinks Reception

180125_PiTop_NIKON DAY 2_1323

On Friday 26th of January we hosted a pre-TeachMeet drinks reception in the STEAM Village to celebrate STEAM education and a wonderful week at Bett. We had a great time meeting new people and seeing some familiar faces 🙂

#NoStormtroopers Competition

In one of pi-top’s magazine articles we wonder if Constructionism can prevent our children turning into mindless Stormtroopers (you can read the article online) so we thought it might be a good idea to fill ExCel London with our #NoStormtroopers stickers and badges.

We encouraged all of our stand visitors to share their best #NoStormtroopers pictures with us to be in with a chance of winning daily prizes of pi-top swag for the most creative placements. Check out some of our favourites here!


If you didn’t make it to Bett this year, don’t worry. You can have a look at the very first issue of the pi-top magazine ‘Learning by Making’ here.

The mag features case studies and articles by Learning Reimagined author, broadcaster and pi-top’s Chief Education Adviser, Graham Brown-Martin  and Mitchel Resnick (Professor of Learning Research at MIT Media Lab and author of Lifelong Kindergarten).

Thanks again to everyone that stopped by the STEAM Village to see us at Bett. We loved meeting each and everyone of you. And we cannot wait to see you again next year!

Onwards and upwards,


Collaborative Learning by Making and Playing

Here at pi-top we passionately believe that students learn better by making fun things together.

This is why we have made it our mission to give teachers and kids everything they need to embrace STEAM learning collectively and to really bring science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to life.

What we are not about is using technology for technology’s sake in the classroom. Education technology needs to be driven by creativity, collaboration and making things. And not about adapting consumer tech gadgets and tech toys to the curriculum.

Introducing Creative Collaborative Learning in Schools


Collaborative learning is best demonstrated when we allow students to work on projects they strongly want to solve together. Sounds pretty straightforward, no?

For pi-top, the real value of blending project-based learning with Computer Science and STEAM education in schools is clear. Both kids and teachers love building things together. And the notion that children can say that they’ve built their own laptop computer, robot, music-making machine or countless other cool things is what makes pi-top so special.

There are some deep-rooted systemic challenges for schools and teachers who see the real value in pi-top’s unique flavour of collaborative, project-based physical computing. Not least the fact that we work within an education system rooted in the late 19th century, driven by an antiquated text book and measurement industry that regards teaching as delivery rather than design.

That said, many forward-thinking educationalists are convinced that our education system needs to be based much more on collaboration, making and constructionism. And much less on direct instruction and rote learning.

As Mitchel Resnick, the Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab passionately argues: “The most important thing for us to do is to help children learn to think creatively, adapt to change and come up with innovative approaches to new and changing situations.

“Too often in today’s schools I think we end up valuing the things that we can assess. Instead I think we have to figure out ways of assessing the things that we value.”

The Root of Creative is Create


If we need our children to be creative, critical and socially skilled, then why are they being taught to behave like machines? Schools need to move from the traditional model of education and really embrace creative, hands-on, collaborative student-centred learning.

This is far more than an issue of differing perspectives on educational theory. Designing collaborative learning experiences to encourage learners to make things together and helping them to solve interesting real-world challenges is going to be the key to giving children the skills they need to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

As pi-top’s chief education adviser, Graham Brown-Martin, notes: “We are on the precipice of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Artificial Intelligence. Automation. Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing.

“The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed. And governments, educators and parents alike must ask the question about how they can prepare present and future generations to thrive in this transforming world.”

At pi-top we are obsessive about creating the best physical computing platform to encourage collaborative learning by making and playing. Constructionism and experiential learning, technology that liberates and inspires, personalised learning that’s focused on the child rather than the instruction.

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?


All of these things are the reason why we get out of bed in the morning. pi-top is about designing inspiring education technology, working closely with some of the world’s most skilled educators to further collaborative learning in every way we can.

Most of all we are energised and inspired on a daily basis by the many start-ups, teachers and groups of students that we work with. These are the people who are liberating learners and teachers alike to work together to solve problems and create new knowledge.

The bottom line is this: if new technology and STEAM education in schools is not encouraging kids to work together, and promoting hands-on learning through play and project-based learning then it is doing something wrong.

We are providing kids an exciting, engaging and playful entrance into the worlds of hands-on computer science, coding, engineering, design, robotics, 3D printing, business management and so much more. Our technology encourages less solitary screen time and more collaborative ‘creativity time’.

pi-top is about inspiring kids to reach their full potential. After all, isn’t that the point of education?

Want to find out more? Visit booth #2453 at FETC or head over to meet our team at Bett on our stands F480 and G480. We’re also hosting three Bett talks:
24th of January at 10:30 (Schools Theatre). Teacher’s voice: Collaborative Problem Solving.
25th of January at 12:45 (Schools Theatre). Learner’s voice: Collaborative Problem Solving.
26th of January at 14:30 (Bett Arena). pi-top’s CEO, Jesse Lozano, keynote  Make project based STEAM learning a reality in your school.

Why Moonhack is not another meaningless attempt to break a World Record

Last year, the Australian Code Club had 10,207 Australian kids participating in their free coding event, Moonhack. This year they are not holding back and they are turning the 15th of August into a worldwide event so kids (and not-so-kids) from all around the globe can take part and collaborate.

The event’s aim is to have as many young people from 8 to 18 years old coding as possible and set a World Record. However, the project goes way further than that: by bringing together people and getting them to code for a specific purpose they want to spread a love for coding and trigger a passion for it in future generations. This aligns directly with pi-top’s mission and beliefs. Learning to code can help young people strengthen their problem solving skills and logical thinking as well as their resilience when dealing with things going wrong. In this digital age that we live we think that it’s important to provide kids with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in a world of accelerating advancements, for both their personal and professional lives. Moonhack is a great place to start as it provides a fun environment that can either be structured or treated as an open, creative sandbox, depending on your preference.

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Moonhack is an inclusive event, so is coding. Everyone is welcome to participate, regardless of their skill level, age, gender or country of residency. Even if you don’t fall inside the age range, you can participate and submit your project, but it will not be counted for the World Record.

At pi-top, we think taking part in the Moonhack is a great idea, especially if you’re looking for something fun to do over the summer holidays so why not sign up on Moonhack’s website and get involved. Once you’re sign up,  you will have access to tips, ideas and project guides. On the 15th of August you will be able to upload your moon-themed project made in Scratch, Scratch JR or Python to make sure it’s included in the official record-breaking project count. For those that prefer to follow a project, do not panic, there are also open source Moonhack projects that you or your kids can complete, with easy to follow instructions for any level of learner.

So go on, sign up. Learn. Play. Create… And break things digitally!

BETT 2017

Our review and reflections of BETT 2017!


Our time within the mighty Excel centre at this year’s BETT Show seems like yesterday. It wasn’t, but we’ve only just come down from the high that was a great four days at the world’s leading education technology show.
Here we are, we look impressive, right? Our stand showcased the possibilities of pi-top, including interactive exhibits, such as Sense-Hats, a self-built heart rate monitor and plenty of pi-top laptops and pi-topCEEDs for visitors to try out and play with.


One great thing we enjoy every year at BETT is having the opportunity to meet such a diverse range of new people, and this year was no different. From teachers and students to education and technology media, it’s great to introduce pi-top and our movement to the education space. We even had royalty approach us – Prince Andrew, the Duke of York swung by our stand too! Our co-founder Jesse also caught up with the BBC’s technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones to talk about pi-top. Here’s a tweet he posted of Jesse afterwards:



Winning pi-tops

We also ran a competition on our stand which gave visitors an opportunity to win their own pi-top prize packages, including pi-topCEEDs, speakers, laptops and more. Entrants had to simply take a photo of themselves within the big pi-topCEED frame, and tweet it. Here’s a selection of tweets from the event:

@GetPiTop thanks for taking me through the kit #pitopforSTEM fingers crossed for the win!

Twas great sampling the pitop: it may just be the game-changer we’ve been waiting for @Getpitop #pitopforstem

@GetPiTop with #pitopforstem fun and games at#Bett2017

Went to @GetPiTop and all I got was this awful picture taken!! #pitopforSTEM



pi-top winning!

We were all so delighted when pi-top was named ‘EdTech Startup Company Of The Year’ at the BETT Awards 2017. It was a great way to end the first day of the show, and after all the hard work our team has put in the run-up to the event, and the rest of the year!


Jesse’s speech


The penultimate morning of the show saw our co-founder & CEO Jesse take to the stage for his speech on “Making STEAM a reality for the classroom” in the main BETT Arena. The interactive speech tested the audience’s attention span by encouraging them to track specific pi-top images with a specially designed pi-topPROTO board.


On the same day, we also had Cyber Ready Girls with Baker McKenzie join our stand. The four young girls were playing on CEEDuniverse and were accompanied by our friends  Dyann Heward-Mills from Baker Mckenzie, Robert Dowell from the National Museum of Computing and Pat Ryan, the founder of Cyber Ready Girls. It was a great pleasure to have that inspiring troupe on the stand.

BETT Show seems to get bigger and bigger each year and attracts a range of influencers from the industry. This year, in particular, we saw an increase in international attendees, which is great. For us, it’s the best place to see how education is evolving. BETT is really exciting to be at and it enabled us to see just how far we’ve come since the last show, both as a company, and the range of new products and improved pi-topOS.
Thanks again to everyone who supported us the event, and everyone we met a spoke to over the four days. Another great BETT Show, we’ll see you next year!



Keep to the beat! – Heart Rate Monitor Tutorial

Last tutorial in our LED trilogy! If you haven’t – then check out our Light It Up!-LED Tutorial and CEED Universe Compass Tutorial.

Components needed: 

  1. ADS1115 x 1
  2. LDR x  1
  3. LED x 1
  4. 510 kΩ Resistor x 1
  5. 5 Ω  Resistor  x 1
  6. Wires x 11
  7. pi-topPROTO board x 1

Background: This project was created with hearts in mind. It demonstrates and reveals a technique to measure the heart rate by sensing the change in blood volume in a finger artery while your heart is pumping! Compared to our last two tutorials, it is a bit more complex; however, it is perfect for an inter-curricular class or a fun family project for the weekend.  

Step 1: In this tutorial you will learn to make a heart-rate-monitor with an LED circuit on the pi-topPROTO board.

Step 2: The diagram below illustrates how the components should be soldered onto the pi-topPROTO board:





Step 3: To build this circuit on the pi-topPROTO board, solder the LED to the board.


Step 4: Next solder in the resistor and complete the circuit using a wire.


Step 5: Now solder in the LDR (Light Dependent Resistor), its accompanying resistor and complete the circuit using another wire.


Step 6: The next step is to solder in the analogue to digital signal converter (ads1115) into the pi-topPROTO board.



Step 7: Connect the ads1115 to the 5V power supply.




Step 8: Connect I2C connections (SCL and SDA) on the ads1115 to pin 5 and pin 3 on the board respectively.



Step 9: Connect the ADDR pin to the GND pin on the ads1115 so as to define the I2C address on the ads1115 as 0x48.



Step 10: The next step is to move onto the python code! This can be done on your pi-topCEED. After you have booted your pi-topCEED up: click on the Main Menu, accessories and then open up a terminal window as seen in the screenshot below.



Step 11: Type in “sudo idle &” into the terminal to open up idle 2 which will allow you to create a run python scripts on the Raspberry Pi!



Step 12: Once the python shell environment has opened up, click File and then New to open up a new text editor. This text editor is where you will type your code, save and run the project! Once you run the project on the text editor the results will be displayed on the python shell environment that was previously mentioned.



Step 13: The next step is to now copy the code below in the python text editor:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

import matplotlib.animation as animation

import time

import Adafruit_ADS1x15

import pylab

import numpy as np

from scipy.interpolate import interp1d

from scipy.signal import butter, lfilter, filtfilt

# from scipy.interpolate import spline

#get plot and draw axes

fig = plt.figure()

ax1 = fig.add_subplot(1,1,1)

moving_y = []

xaxisthings = []

startTime = time.time()

secondsShown = 5

secondsCalc = 5

plotHz = 20                        

totalWidth = plotHz*secondsShown

Oversample = 5

allY = [0]*plotHz*secondsShown

allX = [0]*plotHz*secondsShown


#function to set the next y value

def new_y_value():

   time.sleep(1/(plotHz * Oversample))

   return Adafruit_ADS1x15.ADS1115().read_adc(0, gain=16)


def animate(i):

   #add a new y value, and remove the first

   totaly = 0

   totalx = 0

   count = 0

   for j in range(secondsCalc * plotHz * Oversample)

       totaly +=new_y_value()

       totalx +=time.time()-startTime


       if count == Oversample:



           count = 0

           totalx = 0

           totaly = 0

   while len(allY) > (secondsShown*plotHz):






ani = animation.FuncAnimation(fig, animate, interval=1)



Step 14: After creating your code, click on “File” and then “Save as” to save the code that you have written so that you can come back to it and run the code whenever you want!

Step 15: After saving your code, put you finger in between the LED and the LDR and press F5 to run your code and see your heartbeat displayed across the screen as seen in the image below!

Heart Rate Monitor.png

Intern project: The impact of game-based learning on classroom teaching

Hi all,

One of our interns is currently working on his final project “The impact of game-based learning on classroom teaching”, he has designed a questionnaire on CEED Universe – our educational game. The aim of his study is to assess the way lessons are currently taught in the classroom, and see if games such as CEED Universe can benefit students. For more information on the subject he recommends checking out this e-Book called Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal.

The optimization of learning is very important to us; and so is supporting our pi-top Family members! Therefore, if you have some spare time to support him and fill in the questionnaire by clicking here (should only take a few minutes) – we would all be ecstatic. 🙂

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Hello world: pi-top starts blogging

Hello world,

Welcome to our new blog. We are pi-top. We want to see a world of makers creating real hardware product. Our aim is to make affordable technology that anyone can use to learn, play and create!

“Ryan and I started all this in my living room in London. We had days when we had to choose between buying more 3D printing filament or buying something other than pasta and tomato sauce to eat (we chose the filament every single time). Now we have a great office in London and a team of twelve people. Without our backers and community, our lives would be so different and much less fulfilling, and for that we are forever grateful.” – Jesse, pi-top CEO

On the 8th of December, 2014, pi-top closed its first Indiegogo campaign with 217% of the initial funding goal. If you haven’t heard, the pi-top is a Raspberry Pi powered DIY laptop. Since the successful campaign, we have improved the design, software and hardware of the pi-top to ship worldwide to 47 countries!



We are very proud of what we’ve achieved with our backers help. From our CTO Ryan Dunwoody’s five month stay in Shenzhen to get pi-top off the production line and into everyone’s homes, to our pride in the improvements we’ve made over the last year. (Image left: Ryan with the first production pi-top in China)



“When people give you their trust to produce something new, you must give everything else up.” – Jesse, pi-top CEO

The rewards are immeasurable – as you can observe via the images (below) sent to us by our backers through our Twitter.



Now, as we move into our second year, we hope we will be able to continue improving, continue making, and continue bringing pi-top and our newest product, pi-topCEED, to as many people as possible.


(Image: left green pi-top and right grey pi-topCEED)

We will be using this blogs for Our Story – to make updates on our recent progress, some Food for Thought – covering industry topics (STEM, Education, Entrepreneurship, etc.), and Building – where we’ll be writing about some cool projects for pi-top and pi-topCEED. We hope you enjoy!

Upwards and onwards,

Your pi-top Team