CEP 811 – Week 2

Raspberry Pi + Sonic Pi + Popsicle Sticks = Music

This week in CEP 811 we began exploring our Maker Kits. For my maker kit, I chose the Raspberry Pi, a mini computer that retails for under $50. We were warned that this is one of the most difficult kits to work with – and they were correct!

For this week’s maker project, we were to use our maker kit in conjunction with items from a thrift shop, bargain store, our own basement, junk drawer, etc. When looking around the internet for bit of inspiration on what I could make, I quickly found that making something with the Raspberry Pi would require spare electronic parts and other bits and pieces that I simply do not have around the house or at the local goodwill. As such, I began to think creatively on how I could utilize the native Raspbian/Noobs software in a manner that would allow me to utilize items from around the house.  I was confident that I wanted Sonic Pi,  a music coding program to be the heart of my project. After looking at the materials around my house, popsicle sticks became my source of inspiration. I often use popsicle sticks to draw variables or select an order – it was clear that I could do the same for variables within a framework of code. So with a goal in mind, here is what developed.


Raspberry Pi
External Screen
Power Sources
3mm Audio Cable
Aluminum Cans – 6
Popsicle Sticks – approx. 75
Project Directions (PDF)


  1. Set-up Raspberry Pi and install Noobs.
  1. Label Popsicle sticks with variables.


3. Place popsicles in aluminum cans, separated by color.

Variables - Complete

4. On the Raspberry Pi, open Sonic Pi.

5. Insert the code found in the directions, drawing a popsicle stick  for each color box (variable) and insert the code found on the selected stick.


6. Play “Section 1”. Have students note what they heard. Once documented, have students add the code in Sections 2 & 3 to create a three part media file. Students should stop and reflect as each section is added – what do they hear? What is the function of the block of code (harmony, melody, background track)?


For a short video of the project please see the video below:

Closing Thoughts

This week was difficult. Setting up a brand new computer, hunting down all of the cords and items necessary to run the computer, formulating a creative “thrifting” project. It is a lot of work in a short period of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the end product and hope that it inspires you to explore Raspberry Pi and Sonic Pi with your students!


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