SkillsBuild STEM Labs Part 1

pi-topCEED Introduction



The pi-topCEED is a DIY desktop computer that helps the user start learning how to code and to experiment with electronics, create printed circuit boards, and produce 3D projects. The green pi-topCEED comes with a 14″ HD LCD screen with an adjustable back stand. Fitted inside the case is a modular rail system that allows the user to use any pi-top add-on board with the pi-top CEED by simply sliding the add-on board into the rail system. Step-by-step online tutorials and lesson plans are provided through cloud-based learning.


Course/SkillsBuild for Student Module: SkillsBuild Lab pi-topCEED Intro Learning Plan


Topics: Coding and Data Science


Length of class: time varies depending on activities chosen


Outcomes: What learners will be able to know, do, or value by the end of the lesson.

  • Students will be able to locate and select options within the pi-top OS.
  • Students will be able to identify the coding elements unique to Python.
  • Students will learn how to execute the appropriate programming code to accomplish a specific goal.
  • Students will be able to identify and explore careers that utilize programming and the skills involved in software development.


Workplace learning skills:


  • Collaboration
  • Analytical thinking

Required Learning Materials/Resources

  • Raspberry pi-topCEED (kit)
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Raspberry Pi 3B+ (circuit board)

Learning Environment Needs

The unit takes up the typical desktop space as would a normal keyboard, mouse and screen.  

Unboxing and setup (including boot up) takes less than 30 minutes.  Charging the battery can take up to 3 hours for a full charge (the battery comes partially charged so the system can be used right out of the box).  Activities vary in time allotment, but most can easily accommodate a 40 minute class period.


Like any piece of electronic equipment, pi-top hardware must be used in the correct way and safety precautions followed. Go over the following safety precautions with students before starting with the Raspberry Pi.


If students drop anything into the modular area of the pi-top, or if an item slides underneath the main Raspberry Pi computer unit students should follow these instructions.


  • Stop working immediately.
  • Shutdown the computer completely and remove the power supply cord. 
  • Ground yourself correctly to discharge any static electricity (more information here).
  • Place the unit on a flat hard surface
  • Try and retrieve the object safely, do NOT use items like metal tweezers.
  • if the object has slid underneath any of the printed circuit boards do not shake the unit in an attempt to dislodge it. Instead, gently remove the circuit board using a screwdriver and retrieve the object. 
  • Do not jam, scrape or prod any internal part of pi-top with a tool, doing so may damage the unit.


Because heat can build up, students should not touch any part of the Raspberry Pi or Hub while using the pi-top. During normal usage pi-top’s built-in heatsink thermal pad and Cooling Bridge will dissipate any excess heat generated by the Raspberry Pi 3B or 3B+. In certain circumstances (sustained intensive heavy processor usage) students should be aware that the Raspberry Pi CPU might become hot. If this happens, stop what processes you are running and let the unit cool down. Furthermore, all Raspberry Pi computers have built-in thermal throttling, which restricts the processing power of the main CPU chip if it’s becoming too hot.

Part 1: Intro to pi-topCEED

(Optional) Check for prior knowledge of Raspberry Pi and Python  with the KWHLAQ worksheet. Ask questions like “What is Data Science?” “What does Raspberry Pi do?”


Students will start by unboxing and setting up the pi-topCEED following the pi-topCEED Assembly Guide video.


Students will then boot up the pi-top OS and get acquainted with the options available.

Part 2: Activity

Introduce Python programming through the pi-top CODER lessons. Students can go to pi-top CODER from the dashboard. Pi-topCODER is an exciting and intuitive coding environment which allows students to explore the world of coding and physical computing at their own pace. Pi-top CODER has a fully integrated coding environment allowing students to program hardware, code in Python and learn lots of STEAM skills. The embedded test framework will ensure that students understand all concepts.


A suite of Python libraries is provided, with example programs and demos; pi-top lesson plans (pi-topOS only) are available.  


Various activities can also be selected from resources provided that accommodate time constraints.

Part 3: Career Focus (30 mins)

Check for prior knowledge. Ask students questions like “What kinds of careers could use Raspberry Pi?”, “What kind of industry could benefit from using Python coding?”


In this day of technological advancement, the usage of computers has been incorporated into just about every field, including music. Therefore, many careers that deal with music, from its creation to implementation in the media, will involve computerization. If you are interested in how you can intertwine the two fields into a productive career, some options are listed below.


Use the career graphic organizer as students go through these articles:


Additional Resources/ Deeper Learning

Assessment/ Evaluation

Based on application, how I will I know learners have met intended outcome?

— KWHLAQ worksheet

—Career Graphic Organizer

— Teacher may wish to create a rubric for activity portion


How will I bring lesson to an effective closing?


  • Check for understanding and answer any subsequent questions
  • Emphasize key information
  • Ask the question “What information did you learn that you think you will find important 3 years from now?”
  • Remind students that there are more relevant courses on SkillsBuild for Students to continue their learning


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SkillsBuild STEM Labs Use