Minion transformation with a graphite pencil sketch and Makey Makey Go

Yey – Makey Makey Go Inventor kits and booster gubbins arrive on a post-Christmas rainy day.

Questions from the floor:

  1. What could we do in 10 minutes, including the time taken to unpack the box?
  2. How can such a small, portable kit inspire more ambitious projects to create using only space and left click initially?
  3. What’s possible now and in the new term?
  4. How?

Actually, most of the questions became rhetorical. Too much fun challenging visitors to catch fish with Dave the Minion’s graphite glove!

Ideas Boosters

The booster bag of pencil, longer crocodile clips, fabric and conductive tape etc provides a great catalyst for ideas to share.

Back to the game controller for now, though  😄


Sensory Tree: Festive tinkering with Soundplant & Makey Makey

A week of numerous conversations supporting plans to make computing and maker more inclusive ended with an email from a colleague that triggered this tinkering challenge.

Warm Christmas wishes and the question about which device was controlling the lights on our family’s tree. Was it Raspberry Pi?

Actually, it was Codebug; an extension that came through this week’s MakerEd workshops.

But that got me thinking that to make a more sensory tree experience we should add some sound.  Something fairly low tech and fun though; something with as close to absolutely no programming as possible.


Makey Makey festive mash up

Something to control sound and add to the light and festive aromas but, more importantly, trigger routes to progression afterwards.  And with that, thoughts reverted to Makey Makey – probably with some anticipation and plans for the latest invention kit delivery.


Conductive tree connectors

What emerged was a chance to link up a keyboard sound triggering tool, Soundplant, and quickly develop an incredibly engaging and intuitive process.

Probably too many chocs eaten on a Saturday morning, but they were for conductive testing purposes. And Santa really ought to be sounding more Brian Blessed : )


Ending the year with wearable sparkles

Seems fitting that after a year of deconstructing dance and concentrating on Tim Ferriss’s ‘material over method‘ approach that 2015 ends with final sparkles in the form of wearable tech with Codebug.

And with so many projects focused on inclusivity and participation, it’s been great to see new and emergent collaborations nurtured to share knowledge and projects.

Reflecting on Purpose before tech or vice versa this week, I’ve realised that during the year my intentions have differed through defined purposes.  And actually, I’ve probably learnt more about learning through computing with unfinished projects, collaborations and planning possibilities. Very much a personal fascination during MakerEd research observations.

Dance was different; very much so.  Learning analytics supported a focus looking at data to inform and giving me choices to make decisions impacting on my own performance.  Context and environment became the dance mantra when we realised the significance of these factors with my own learning.

Recognising the trip switch in my head that says ‘no more; data & info overload’ proved one of the more valuable tools supporting learning and teaching.  Both styles adapted significantly, on occasions, after becoming dependent on my afternoon’s work activities.  Moreover, repetition as a pedagogical approach finally nailed the spin turn 🙂

Next steps for 2016?

More projects exploring Learning Analytics in a school environment start in January.  If the approach impacted on my performance, then how can it be utilised in a school setting?  Can data, or rather which data (I’m not meaning the 5 A*-C stick), really impact on educational performance?  More so, what about impacting on students’ learning in primary or secondary school environments?  Can it?

Community learning events with Raspberry Jam also continue in Leeds on the first Wednesday in the month. Link here to the  6th January event at Swallow Hill Community College.


Raspberry Jam in Leeds

And there’ll be more news coming from the MakerEd Leeds research project too, as another school participate and more activities emerge.

Our blog is also live, now : )


Leeds Raspberry Jam – December 2015 

Another Raspberry Jam, opening the doors with our friends at Swallow Hill Community College, to their community and an open invite to everyone interested in learning together with Raspberry Pi.

As we move through the months with our regular diary fixture, it’s lovely to see how we’re using the time, space and community to learn what we want to learn and share what we can. Perhaps more pertinent is the chance to learn what’s possible to learn and building the confidence to create it.

With such a diverse range of interests, backgrounds and specialisms joining together we’ve realised that anything’s possible if we ask the right question. Or to find out what that question should be.

Collaborations and support between software & hardware developers (work wise or through outside interest), teachers, children, technical, IOT & data specialists, members of the Raspberry Pi community (old & newbie) and families lend themselves to a warm and informal space in which to explore.

And that’s also the welcome for people coming along for the first time to see what’s on offer and what’s possible for them. Drop in and find out!

We plan a workshop activity and bring along resources and kit to share, but there’s always a choice to make and some prefer to make progress on an existing project.

This month we set up Sense Hats from the Astro-Pi project on our Raspberry Pi mini computers. With the timing of Tim Peake’s imminent launch with the Principia mission, it’s exciting times.

A game making start to the Jam

Fantastic to see how this project created endless opportunities to explore. For some it was the IOT and data element that was of interest, for some teachers it was STEM creativity ideas and for most it was a time to use the same tech that was about to launch to board the ISS – wow!


For our youngest member it was the spark to tempt him away from his Scratch comfort zone (more expert zone) and rig up the sense hat with Python. That also gave us an opportunity to get mischievous with the sensors!

And in what’s become the traditional ‘Leeds Raspberry Pi-Hi’ there’s time at the end to share projects and discoveries…….”Here’s what I did with my sense hat”.

LEDs, camera, action

We also discovered the delights of activities linking Raspberry Pi & electronics with Chris. Those first time LED moments are memorable; from that we also tinkered with lights, lanterns and festive decorations.  No expense spared here with a light triggered in a coffee cup!

Strictly live at the Jam!

Our returning media moguls came with a variety of projects suitable for every media eventuality. We took a peek at their live streaming set up and even managed a few minutes of It Takes Two 💃

Also of interest to the group were the opportunities for music selection with an intuitive set up using Sonic Pi.  No festive tunes though, only the selection chosen by our developers.

Leeds Jam playlist in the pipeline, me thinks?


A PiZero’s not just for Christmas!

Of course with the best laid plans come the finest Plan Bs and sometimes with the most exciting surprises, so I’m never too precious about my planned workshops! This time it was in the form of the PiZero launch, it’s possibilities and the chance to ditch a formal activity and plan.

We were lucky enough to gain some sponsorship for a festive raffle and here’s one of our young members sharing her excitement at winning her very own PiZero.

She’ll be back next month to share a project that she’ll plan with her dad (rumour has it that he’s hacked his own Space Invaders game with a Pi – next month too?).

Should’ve known we’d have some creative examples of self-built PiZero cases coming through the doors last week!

Great to see ideas and inspirations sparked through chat around such a small computer to ignite big ambitions.

Lego Two

What’s coming next through the doors?  I have no predictions – I still stand by describing a Raspberry Jam as an exciting episode of the Antiques Roadshow!

Lego Three

So what’s the plan for next month?

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again at Swallow Hill Community College in West Leeds. Grab a free ticket by registering here for Wednesday 6th January 2016.

Sharing plans

I’ll add a workshop for those who want to learn together and I know already there’ll be a couple of new projects unveiled for the first time.  I’ve added a piano top to my wish list so might tinker with that and we’ll have returning friends with reviews and thoughts on Minecraft resources.

As ever there’ll be Raspberry Pi to set up for the first time to explore what it’s all about and space and friendly guidance should you join us with a project to move forward.

See you next year 😄

Link to full photo gallery