Soldering on to connect #MakerEd plans

Preparing for the unknown:

Next week I’ll be facilitating an Ada Day with a group of students who’s activities will be centred around student voice and digital making.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

They’ll be challenged to creatively visualise and solve real world problems, which are linked to their school’s global citizenship curriculum.


Following this first session, the students will be able to use their code with sensor nodes and link their environmental data and findings to the Connected Hull dashboard and coverage through The Things Network.

First things first, though.

  • Discover
  • Interpret
  • Design
  • Code
  • Test
  • Debug
  • Test again
  • Share

Soldering On

Through this approach we’ll explore the benefits, applications and considerations of big data, GPS metadata and privacy of personal data to add to future project builds.


Planning for the unknown?

We’ve collated the start of a resource bank to equip the students to visualise their data and solutions.

Final outputs will only be discovered next week.


(Smart) Sounds from the Classroom

We wanted to try out the Smart Citizen kit for ourselves, and then look towards comparative global opportunities, like teachers in Salford recently have.  And a couple in Hull, tentatively, too now.


Link to Smart Citizen – Future Everything site

But this was a family project and that very much meant being led by the youngest member.  A Smart Citizen device placed in their KS2 classroom, set up, monitored, tested and explained to anybody coming into contact with the project.

And the intended outcome?  Curriculum and creative ideas alongside feedback about ease of use, accuracy and flexibility.

iaac-smart-citizen-3 (1)

Link to the Smart Citizen Project in Salford

Perfect timing to explore cross-curricular links into an Extreme Earth topic and opportunities to collect, analyse and compare the data through visualisations.

Great timing too to consider positive aspects of data sharing through IOT and an extension to conversations about privacy of personal information.

And the recent conversations about if a project like this is based on data or digital storytelling?  Think we’re definitely in that latter group now.

With detective hats on it was time to seek out the hidden stories within the data collected and that’s a huge task with over 43,000 lines on the CSV.

Visualisation possibilities included using a range software but Sonic Pi is the favoured tool at the moment.  Seems like the musical focus is the major hit and also that terms and concepts learnt in school and at Code Club are familiar and transferrable.

Forever loops in Scratch?  Infinite music possibilities now.

And which data to select and compose with?   With a like for like transfer into Sonic Pi then some readings weren’t suitable, but using temperature in blocks to create 3 chords gave the basis to write a piece of music.

Loops with noise and humidity data gave 2 more WAV files which could be ‘thrown into Garageband’ and then more familiar tools used to finish the piece.

And finishing the piece is timely here. Currently it’s a ‘3 track from Sonic with a couple of Garageband add-ons’ mash-up and waiting for final edits and creative flair using more ways, synths and effects with Sonic.

Apparently every piece of music ought to include tambourines and drums : )

Hidden stories?  Well we did ask the teacher about possible reasons for the noise levels in the classroom rising AFTER the children went home.

And we got a musical reason – a singing teacher.  Her voice really ought to be added as a final track to the final version!

A couple more mysteries still remain but it’s early days in the data world and emerging days through the medium of digital storytelling.

Time for data to impact on (my) dance performance? Probably. Time for Data Science in school? Definitely.

  • Can health data impact on educational performance and are we at a stage where affordable ‘wearable tech’ can support a school-based project?
  • Can we use a health focus for a project to engage young people and learn & debate the issues from the field of Data Science?

These are a couple of areas that I’ve been mulling over, and asking questions about, since last Summer and areas where the speed of tech advancements and innovation have changed my opinions at each stage.

There’s been many a conversation about the potential of wearables to impact on students’ health and also to underpin creative projects to include collecting and analysing personal data. Which in turn, I believe, needs to lead to informed choices to enhance performance by supporting decision making.  But opportunities to explore big data and the internet of things on a much bigger scale and through data science?

No, that hasn’t been possible.  Not seamlessly or cost-effectively anyway. And that means not for our educational setting.


MiBand and Pebble – personal devices?

We’ve used the Research and Play project to explore areas but it’s been very much on an individual level.  Apps and devices, which have included the Xiaomi MiBand and Pebble watch, have been fantastic tools to use to collect data and then consider the analysis of that data. On a very small scale they’ve enabled us to explore collection, analysis, modelling, data visualisation techniques and problem solving which has led into the IOT and privacy of data topics.

But there’s been an on-going iPad comparison in my mind that these wearables have been individual devices.  Very much personal tools to inform individuals about their own individual performance and actually in education I’ve been looking for the capability to reach into big data and collaborative opportunities.

Apple Watch has been a timely (sorry) conversation piece, specifically for the privacy and ownership of data and the IOT debate, but again not one to support our intended project.


Data Crunch – empowering children through data

And then we touch on a ‘Health in Numbers’ data project, developed with the Young Pioneers charity, to support teachers and learners through data projects, as well as positively impacting on health & educational performance. The collaboration includes a blend of teacher CPD around the computing curriculum and projects launched through a peer to peer model of learning.

A ‘Big Data Gym Day’ early next month will give students an opportunity to collect initial performance data to make target setting decisions as a group and individually.  What does 10,000 steps mean, anyway?  And how much is enough and how much is too much?

We’ll use that first project day as a ‘Data Crunch’ opportunity to help to benchmark and start collaborative planning. This initial experiential fitness day will be a chance to use tech as a positive enabler and to engage young people with an introduction to data science too.

Using the immersive tech (interactive cycling, rowing, running machines, cardio walls and an immersive cube), it’ll be an opportunity to start data collection in a physical environment that some of our students have enjoyed at a previous event. And it’s also a time for each school or the group of schools to consider cumulative performance data as we now have that portal capability for big data.

No more individual devices with individual data sets to inform an individual’s performance. The Pebble+ device from Fitlinxx will let us explore big data collaboratively.  And those possibilities, opportunities, implications, choices, benefits and areas to be considered from the portal…..will be considered initially through the IOT aspect of the CPD programme. At which point teachers will make an informed decision.  So it’s possible and for them to decide.

Collaboration with Pebble+ ?


A range of data sets, opportunities through big data, and a set of tools with a range of skills and examples to make the best use of that data to impact on performance. That’s the plan.

Wonder which questions the groups will pose at the onset of their project?  They’ll be taking the tech back into school and each school could well have a different project.  That’s Research and Play.

Students empowered to consider health and well-being lifestyle choices through analysis of their routine and data? As data scientists they’ll evaluate their own decisions based on their own data to help inform.  We’ll be looking to evaluate the support with the computing curriculum and we’ll leave those health conversations to the schools. Although we would like to hear at some point: )

As for the dance example, the same range of apps and wearable tech devices have been invaluable over the last year, but on a general health & fitness level.  The gap has been to genuinely impact on dance technique and performance through wearable tech and without other technology tools.  Until now.


This is the term when I’ll be able to evaluate wearables as they collect data to track posture and definite foot and heel movements.  That’s a huge (ballroom & latin) step towards my personal performance improvement 🙂

Does Spring really spring earlier in Lancashire?

A tad facetious, but a personal question that I’ve been vocalising for the last couple of years and one which I’m sure I’ve got the answer to, but want to explore.

I’m intrigued, as a Lancastrian now residing in Yorkshire, as to the considerations to explain how bulbs from the same bag can develop at different rates and bloom weeks apart.  Not wishing to start a ‘War of the Daffodils’ but year on year the Yorkshire bulbs do flower later!


8th March 2015

So that’s my Research and Play project for this term.  A comparison across the Pennines.

As a Smart Citizen how and can data help me to explain?  And indeed can it explain anything or nothing at all?

So that’s the context of the context.  Same bag.  That’s my question.


Same bag, different what…..

Introducing Smart Schools to the wider Research and Play schools’ projects sees an exciting partnership form with FutureEverything and Smart Citizen (via FabLab Barcelona).

Smart Citizen 2

In the first instance students in Salford will be offered extended opportunities as digital creators, through innovative and creative experimentation. That fits with the intention to support activities exploring computational thinking across the curriculum.

‘Digital Citizens’ as ‘Smart Citizens’ 

  • How creative can our students get when they collect their own environmental data and compared that to a worldwide network?
  • What would their question be if they developed a project based around computational thinking again? How will they make use of and visualise that big data as decision makers?


After Easter the programme will introduce young people and their teachers to physical computing, the Internet of Things (IOT) and continue the theme of creativity across the curriculum through Computing.

At the heart of this new project is pupil voice through Smart Citizen.

iaac-smart-citizen-3 (1)

Watch this space 🙂

How can the IOT supercharge a superhero?

For a while now I’ve been exploring the work around the Internet of Things (IOT) and how creative school projects can link to the ideas and considerations from the world of data. In particular, collected data and analysis from the children themselves.

As ever, it’s been a two-fold exercise to incorporate teacher CPD alongside projects in the formal curriculum, through enrichment activities and student event days.

Recently though, I’ve been looking at ways to engage younger children through ideas connected with the IOT and to glean some of their thoughts and opinions. To hear those responses from this age group and to listen to their abstraction methods moving the IOT on from their conceptual level has added to my own learning, most definitely!

The IOT fits perfectly into the project arenas for ‘technology in an ever-changing world’ and ‘safe and responsible use of tech’, but for this age range of children aged 8-11 years who have perhaps never known what it’s like to get lost in a car, miss a TV show broadcast once or NOT get Google to answer a question in sub 2 seconds, what does it mean to them?  And what exactly is it?

“Oh Crumbs!” was possibly the first thought but last opinion on my mind at the announcement last year that Dangermouse and Penfold were coming back to our screens in 2015.  And it’s given me the basis of an investigative project looking at the impact of the IOT on one of our favourite superheroes.


With the all-new series launching this year, will Dangermouse have changed in any way?

How can tech, wearable or not, and the IOT make him a more effective hero?

Introducing and defining the Internet of Things and getting children to think of ways to improve his explorative and crime-fighting credentials brought out some insightful soundbites that I’ll share in more detail at a later date.

Dangermouse 2015

The Oxford Dictionary defines the IOT as:

“The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data”

And thoughts from Y4:

“It’s the centre of technology.”

“Where all the important stuff and data goes about people’s lifestyle. Like what they do in the day (and night), where they go, how they get there and who they’re with.”

“It should make life easier but you need to be careful about sharing your personal information.”

And more investigations from Y4:

Once they started to consider the supercharging of a superhero approach with the IOT, then other questions started to arise.

  • Can pirates ever escape when all the information about what they’re doing is in one place?
  • What could we find out about the Loch Ness Monster if Nessie was connected to the IOT?
  • What does the Beast of Bodmin really get up to? We could find out!
  • How can my football team get even better and win the title?
  • Will my dad never have to do the supermarket shoppping on the computer, then?

Interesting thoughts and realisations maybe to consider at some point 🙂

What’s next?

We’re moving to the next phase of projects looking at the impact of health data on educational attainment and also extending decision making opportunities using environmental data as a citizenship project.

Schools, teachers and learners have piloted technologies and data collection on a fairly small scale but now we’re at the point of embracing portal tech to support big data.  And if I talk about disregarding geography, I mean in a barrier to collection sense.   I’m keen to think about comparative studies either side of the Pennines.

All through those amazing opportunities that come from working and learning with large numbers of teachers and children from primary, secondary and SEN schools in a couple of cities with a focus on inclusive Computing.  If there was ever an opening for a big data project…….there is and there are.

On reflection

Sometimes there’s a difference in reaction from adults and children to the ideas and capabilities of the IOT.  No sharp intake of breath from the children about privacy concerns or transfer of information but they communicate a strong message reinforced from e-safety lessons.  Perhaps when tech has always been at the core of a digital native’s life that brings with it the sense of ever an evolving world?  And with differing priorities due to experiences, knowledge and the outlook of adults? That’s a huge piece of research and not one that we’ll ever formalise…….great to get snippets to share, though.

Halloween Health Week – 2 teachers, 2 learners, 3 dancers, 1 dog, a bike and the IOT

Me, myself and Pi

Can health data impact on educational performance and are we at astage whereaffordablewearable tech can supporta school-based project?

We’ve had many conversations over the last couple of months about the potential of wearables to impact on students’ health and also to underpin creative projects which include collecting and analysing personal data. And to additionally support CPD for teachers.

What if students could make decisions based on their own data about what their optimum level of sleep was each night? If school performance dipped could studentsbe empowered to change health and well-being lifestyle choices through analysis of their routine and data? Could data analysis of sleep patterns and exercise impact on future decision-making? How woulddiet and fitness affect performance?

IOT TAG Data &The Internet of Things? Or something else? What else?

How about supporting a project with a headteacher using school data to identify a particular group of students in a particular year…

View original post 607 more words