How do you solve a problem like Ada?

A glimpse into an Ada Lovelace inspired day during a Transition Week for Y6 students.  Poetic science and the obvious focus on progression of programming through algorithmic design.

Challenges were created by the students themselves, who quickly discovered wearable tech possibilities using Codebug as their programmable device.


Which direction did they take to use wearables as a communication gadget as well as a decorative piece?  It varied according to each pair.

Projects included a supportive transition focus, a music message board, a ‘feel good factor’ message, sporting themes and even an Earth Emoji Indicator (invention of the day!)


Designing, Creating & Racing

Group work then gave opportunities for further problem solving as the children turned detective to design their own treasure hunt.  Storytelling paved the way to create their own interactive games and share their challenges with peers.

Resources or tools available to the children?  Scratch, Cannybots and Blue-Bot as a starter for 10.

And how about the poetic science?  For some, imaginations went into overdrive with the possibilities opened up using electric paint.

Injecting a creative science element into their literacy work inspired a small group to investigate and use their circuit skills to develop handwritten projects.

For others, it was the workshop extending circus skills that did the same job 🙂



Does more noise mean more collaboration at the Leeds’ Raspberry Jam?

Absolutely not?

But could it mean more Maker style Meet ups as we move forward?

When the team from York Hack Space joined us at this weekend’s Raspberry Jam our Maker Space got a tad more ambitious.


An increased range of activities and projects, incorporating Raspberry Pi and Arduino as the basis to hack with, gave way to more conversations, thoughts, ideas and inspiration towards next steps for everyone.

And actually, some new boards for some to consider too, but all to encourage collaboration and supporting ideas to share.


Robotic Art – click for more info

What could happen next? Who helped who?

  • A year 8 student brought along a Raspberry Pi photo booth project that inspired a couple of teachers to consider projects with that theme for enrichment activities.
  • Another Year 8 student gave us an update about her Raspberry Pi robot project and what her future plans hold.  Extending her remote control hack?
  • Using Raspberry Pi with a 3D printer project to explore and stretch the Cannybot activity ideas developed during the day. Racing corner might appear at the next Jam!
  • The Water Color Bot from Super Awesome Sylvia gave another area to consider STEAM, different themes for projects and to launch numerous conversations about engaging inclusive and opportunities through computing. At it’s most basic level, from plug-in, design and print, to hack opportunities each idea shared an enjoyment whilst developing and extending skills.
  • Arduino-based pledges to explore and hack with electronics activities – lights, camera, action.

Toolbox to launch a 1000 ideas

  • Wearable Tech plans using a range of tools as inspiration and stimulus.*  Time to say thank you for those #ProjectBlackpool ideas for me!

And what about the post title about noise?

Well we used the Raspberry Jam as a testbed for a data project and to explore more ideas for an upcoming community project in the city. Digital storytelling using data as a focus but with a creative output.

What will be that creative output?

I have no idea!

That’ll be decided by the group of young people who will build and hack their own project around the technology we provide, through a toolkit, and which they could add to.

The community had their own ideas at the Jam and it also gave more activities to explore after the Raspberry Pi workshops.  The Leeds’ Maker community will also be involved with this local project in September.

What we’re excited about most of all is the students adding their ideas stamp and creativity which they’ll share at a Leeds Jam. They’re Smart Citizens of West Leeds and one device they will use is the Smart Citizen kit:


Smart Citizen

But will they build a project indoors or choose to create and make an external collaboration to tell their story?  Whilst I don’t think they’ll be showcasing though a spreadsheet, we’ll wait to see where they export their csv data and the resulting visualisations and models.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 07.51.35

Excel for a reason!

There were peaks in noise levels at the Raspberry Jam.  The data confirms that and also guides us as to when the device was internally mounted and when we hacked the deckchair outside, and planned a storytelling idea overlooking Leeds Dock.


Click for more info about Space Hack

More noise through more conversations or challenges and shouts with Space Hack?  I like to think they’re both the same 🙂

More resources:

Codebug – interactive coding and wearable tech

Bare Conductive – electric paint and Touchboard

Raspberry Jam events in Leeds

Jam Packed UK

Starting on 7th October, Claire will be hosting a monthly Raspberry Jam in Leeds.  It’ll be on the first Wednesday of every month.

Register here for future events which will be held at Swallow Hill Community College, Leeds.

Dates are now in the diary until March 2016 when the Raspberry Jams will run between 6 – 8 pm.

Find out more about the Raspberry Jam community and see Leeds on the worldwide calendar here.

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Challenging perceptions of Computer Science using ‘real life, regular people’

Invited into Malet Lambert School, Hull, to support their ‘Discover me’ transition activity got me thinking about my own aspirations at the age of 11.

And then inquisitiveness set in to ask friends and colleagues about their career choices, transitions and decision making across those phases.  Responses to ‘what did you want to be when you were 11?’ were even more enlightening than first anticipated – best left to another post : )

Back to ‘Discover Me’, which is an interactive 2-day transition event for Y6 primary children and delivered in partnership with Business in the Community.

Plans to share my own learning journey to date needed to support the event’s aim to develop soft skills to prepare for transition; communication, problem-solving, resilience, teamwork and self-management.  That lent itself to a practical session, particularly when trying to describe work and activities on a day to day basis.

So pens, paper, Pi & electric paint at the ready, a headful of ideas, a history of twists & turns to share and another opportunity to develop projects and consider thoughts from a different group of children.

All based around a couple of activities both focused on a drawing; one as a perception piece with computing and then a collaborative circuit piece as a computing project.

Additionally, my intention was always to introduce and develop ideas using Raspberry Pi with a ‘crazy inventions task’ threaded throughout the session, from absolute start to finish, to further extend aspirational opportunities.

A year into the Computing curriculum I was also keen to explore that perception aspect with the subject, particularly as a possible career route, given the focus of the event.



With some context through the presentation below, but no real life examples, the children worked in pairs to think about what a day in the life of a Computer Scientist could look like.  They also considered a working environment and made language choices to describe the career path to peers; which for some meant personality traits.


‘Interesting and nerdy?’

Discussion about choice of language and range of opportunities in the field led to the next step of introducing the work of 4 Computer Scientists who have influenced and supported some of my work this year.

So grateful that all 4 responded to my request to reference them as scientists and with their work for an aspirational project with 11 year olds.  And each reply coming back with an “Absolutely – yes!”.


“They’re regular people!”

Responses from the children when I shared slide 8 of the presentation which showed photographs of the scientists?

  • “Woah…..they look just like normal people”
  • “They’re regular people”
  • “They don’t look mad”

At which point these comments were taken for the direction of a discussion about each person’s specialist area of computing.

With a Raspberry Pi theme still continuing, questions from the children also became more specific (and positively animated!) about the range of opportunities with computing across interest areas, once they were told that each scientist owned a Raspberry Pi themselves.

Comments and opinions raised through challenging those initial perceptions captured in the first activity?

Dr Sam Aaron – A communicative coder and creator of Sonic Pi.

“Is Sam a DJ?”  The connection between music and computing wasn’t surprising to the children.  However, the possibilities from live coding, different environments, collaborations and, alongside a video example, different approaches to programming definitely was, and with enthusiastic comments.

“Can computing be computing if it’s music?” from one child.  As an insight into possibilities beyond what they’d experienced using Scratch & (for some) Python this was a chance to demonstrate creative tools linking into some of their interests.

Dr Sue Black – Founder of Techmums, Tech evangelist and social entrepreneur.

“Sue looks like an entertainer”

How can I respond to that?  With a firm affirmation, of course!

But also to share the comparative description of ‘Tech Rock Star” to the girl who commented. She’s also now of the opinion that there’s a common image forming, Sue : )

Charlotte Godley – Recent graduate from Hull University with a first in Computer Science.

“Woah!”  Acknowledging outstanding university achievements and, as a particular example from me, looking to Charlotte for help and support by tapping into her experiences with wearables created another dimension not thought of by most of the children.

With a little background into involvement with the Raspberry Pi community and recent travels one of the children went enthusiastically down the global dimension route with possibilities and projects.  The resulting outcome? A Raspberry Pi invention based around new goal line technology for next year’s Olympic Games in Brazil : )

Robby Ketchell – Chief Data Scientist, Team Sky.

“Robby looks sporty”.  The connection of computing applications in sport was a new concept to the children and particularly challenged their initial perceptions.

From discussions they realised that computing and it’s applications are more far reaching than first thought and are actually integral to most (or all?) areas of their lives.  Comments and ideas built a picture of real life examples as they opened up their own new horizons.  For one child that resulted in an automated home lighting invention…..”It’s a $1m idea”.  Further insights into global possibilities again? Certainly another eye-opener.

Once we explored examples they started to identify other areas where ‘physical computing supports physical activity’ and some went on to invent innovative tech sporting solutions themselves.  With Raspberry Pi, of course.

There’s a little more context into the session from my slidedeck above, but without notes the references of The Road to Wigan Pier and the Jam Factory will be lost.

No change there, then……

As for my next steps and what I learnt from the children yesterday?

I’ll be incorporating more opportunities to develop student-led projects across the curriculum and further opportunities to collaborate with role models in the next academic year.

What I knew already. I think.  But, as the introductory theme from me was about questioning and learning with every step of the journey, now I know it’s definitely the right way to go.

Raspberry Jam in Leeds: Diaries at the ready for the first Wednesday of the month!

What’s next after the Raspberry Jam in Leeds at Digital Garage later this month?


More diary dates

Exciting news that we’ve added a regular date and venue to the Raspberry (Pi) Jam Calendar.

Starting from 7th October 2015 we’ll be meeting on the first Wednesday of each month, at Swallow Hill Community College, in Leeds.  More info and ticket links here.

Hope you can join us : )

Coding ‘Light-Text’ to explain light sources with Codebug

What happens when an 8 and a 9 year old collaborate on a ‘creative homework’ piece to explain what they’ve learnt about light?

As a little bit of background, they’ve just spent the last couple of weeks designing & making non-tech ‘BBF jewellery’ pieces together, have had a quick explanation of what a Codebug is and could briefly explain what wearable tech is.

Go : )

Next project from this pair?  I have no idea!