Embrace the Uncomfortable – Rapid Reaction from #picademy

I’m sitting here in the airport ready to head home, and my head is spinning. I spent the last two days immersed in a fully hands-on learning experience unlike any other.

When I applied, I knew Raspberry Pis existed, but didn’t really know anything else. About a month ago, I received an email that congratulated me on being accepted to the final US Picademy of 2016.  There were about 500 applicants for this cohort, and I was extremely lucky and honored to be selected to attend. I knew this academy would be right up my alley, but way out of my comfort zone.

I decided that I was going to embrace the uncomfortable.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the maker movement now for several years, and have even taken a graduate course that had making and makerspaces as a primary focus. But, still, I didn’t really know where to start. I think my fear has always been—and still is to a certain extent—that I wouldn’t be the best at it. But again, I had to tell myself:

EMBRACE THE UNCOMFORTABLE.

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My new Raspberry Pi 3 with Babbage!

After a night of meeting the other cohort members, our instructors, and the amazing hosts from TACC (Texas Advanced Computing Center), I became a little more comfortable in my skin but was still unsure about what I had gotten myself into.

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Taking a selfie with the PiCamera using a Sketch Filter

Day 1: It was a fast-paced firestorm of experimenting and getting our feet wet with a Raspberry Pi. I found myself at times feeling so overwhelmed because I didn’t know why what I was typing in the code was making things happen. And other times, I latched on to something and went crazy while I was supposed to be listening to someone teach.

Day 2: If day one was a firestorm, then day two was trial by fire. We heard from some great speakers in the morning who shared what Raspberry Pi and digital making has done for them and their students. We also heard from a student, Ethan, who started a company by 5th grade, and has now shifted his business model after learning about Raspberry Pi.

After the speakers, we were given 4 hours to work on building a Raspberry Pi project. This provided so many of us to worry about what project we would tackle, but with the guidance of the instructors, we finally decided on a project: a Teddy Bear camera and song machine.

Initially, we found amazing success with our code in the first 15 minutes, but then we realized, when we wanted to make it more difficult, we really needed the support of the room. This project work time was easily the best part of the whole academy. Check out our video of our 1st prototype:

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img_1186I have to admit, that I still feel a little over my head, but Picademy has given me some confidence in knowing that embracing the uncomfortable is the right place to be. When we are uncomfortable, we can grow. Now, there’s lots of work to be done, and I can’t wait to process more and dive head first into digital making and computer science!

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