Research published: A year’s #MakerEd in Leeds’ schools

So proud to have worked on this project with the team at Leeds University.

Research centred around interviews and workshops with Y8 & Y9 students, teachers, heads and community makers in Leeds.  Final paper is published here:

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MakerEd Leeds project blog here.

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Shake Your #STEAM Power

  • Looking for a project with a social good theme and to build on resilience?
  • Perhaps signposting girls towards STEAM through inspiring female role models?
  • And support to make classroom connections or resources to develop design thinking skills?

These were some of the reasons that I travelled to BETT2017 in January, with an intention to ask the MakerEd community for inspirations and stories.

And that sparked when I discovered and met the team behind this Shake Your Power project.

You might’ve seen their social enterprise online with a more established Spark project. Or recognise their founder, Sudha, from her accomplishments as the percussionist in the band Faithless.

Find out more from her TED X talk from Mumbai below:

The Spark educational kits offers a brilliant STEAM opportunity to explore magnetic induction and principles of electricity, alongside purpose with renewable energy and sustainability .

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The kit is lovely!  Feedback from children that have helped me to build the project and consider activities has been really positive, particularly with the aesthetics and language used in the magazine.

Inspiring girls?  Yes, and actually inspiring everybody including adults.

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‘Quality’ decision making without peer pressure using Picap

Christmas came early last week.  Got to admit that we became embroiled in Quality Street-gate with forceful opinions expressed about which choc should have been replaced.

The trouble was that peer pressure swayed some, and anecdotes through rose tinted spectacles blurred others, into thinking that another choc should’ve been booted first.

Out came the first choc box of the season with a bit of tinkering with the Picap.

Soon we had a set up to give a truly anonymous and representative taste test and decision.

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Must be noted that we’d started with a healthier option for a blind taste test of tomatoes from a plant grown and sold by Ganton School in Hull, and another from a well known supermarket chain. The data confirmed our hunch – the school tomatoes were far more tasty 🙂

For both trials we used the simple touch Python script that allowed us to collect data showing which electrodes had been touched and released.

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And the verdict?

The data suggests that the orange creme should’ve been ditched before the toffee choc.  In our humble opinion of course.

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Making circuits play ball with Makey Makey Go and electric paint

A Summer of sporting optimism and the anticipation of the start of the US Open after th’olympics and Wimbledon.  That’s the background to our latest project, with an intention to nurture problem solving skills and perseverance alongside paddle prowess.

And not forgetting role models though making.  In this case though, linking the sound of successes from Serena Williams and Andy Murray to our own game.


 
The initial idea was to link an extended circuit for the Makey Makey Go to add sound using Soundplant. That meant tinkering with materials such as electric paint, crocodile clips and aluminium foil to get a connection with the bat and ball.

Working from the snickometer concept in cricket, and activating a sound from the ball hitting the bat, soon evolved into a tennis player’s voice from this year’s Wimbledon commentary.

Step One:

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Step Two:

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Step Three:

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And finally:

 

Robotic arms: Clutching at computational straws

I wanted to link computational thinking to tinkering with a low tech approach to explore artificial intelligence for children.

Moreover, to support design thinking skills as we inspire the next generation of digital makers at Raspberry Jam and other maker events with projects sharing robotic arms and other AI examples.

Construction-based activities with the clear focus on high tech progression of learning possibilities.

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Understanding robotics and then design using straws, string and tape was the starting point to launch a series of challenges based on problem solving.

From that led to the inclusion of Strawbee kits.  Whilst still keeping to low tech resources, more robust structures made successfully accomplishing more complex challenges possible.

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Next steps: Debugging to be continued and then programming 🙂

Tinkering Necklaces: from 2D to 3D to Go

Plans for a no-tech/low cost maker day soon turned to digital thoughts from the young people involved.

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What emerged?

Washer comparisons to Pokémon balls and an online theme using only thermochromic paint and creativity as transformation tools.

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Design thoughts a go 🙂

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All singing & dancing STEAM’d cake

The challenge was set:

To create an ‘all singing & dancing’ Strictly-themed cake and one that scores a ten for creativity on the paddle.


Lights, hidden wearables and a collaboration with Jo at Joy To Eat Cakes:

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And a musical code remix:

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