The think it’s all #Maker………it is now ⚽️

A little bit sidetracked, from the initial plan to build a book return box with Dennis and Gnasher sounds, but here goes for a FIFA World Cup maker starter.  With a promise to get back to a Summer Reading Challenge project for Leeds Raspberry Jam next week 📚


First thoughts were a Subbuteo hack, but treasures emerged from a trip to the charity shop.

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Circuit wizardry, with oodles of tin foil and a super quick script in Scratch, were all that was needed to add the magic of Makey Makey into the game.

Cheering crowds for when you score a goal, with added bias of different fans and volume at each end ⚽️

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That short script needs a scoring system next!

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Constraints on creativity

Much has been written this week about a squeezed creative curriculum in our schools, including a perceived emphasis of teaching children to code to the detriment of other subjects in a timetable.

Two points close to my heart and, for me, very much linked to curriculum and a wider perspective.  Also highlighted through conflict coming out of research into digital making (and creativity) in the formal curriculum and reasons towards my commitment to the Foundation for Digital Creativity CIC.

As I contributed to the start of the Leeds Digital Festival by talking about bridging the digital skills divide, then curriculum and conflict rear their heads.

So two questions to think about when we talk about balancing the curriculum and ideas for change:

  1. Are we equipping all young people with the knowledge and skills needed to prepare for a digital future through a broad and rich curriculum?
  2. If not, why not?

And straight away my focus comes back to the support needed to ensure that curriculum achieves it’s fundamental aim.

Nothing new, for anybody remembering the challenges that school leadership teams faced when implementing the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies. Priorities, pressures and support mechanisms (or not).

Understanding the priorities placed on targets for particular subjects and the shift in how schools are supported (does freedom and autonomy for schools facilitate this?) to offer a broad and rich curriculum ought to go some way towards an emphatic approach of opinions and support.

At this point we could go down the ‘community and parental viewpoints about a shift in league tables’ route, but let’s leave that for another day.  They are interlinked, though.

I live in hope that curriculum research and noise from Ofsted is the catalyst needed for every child to learn from a broad curriculum, and be equipped at the end of it with a balanced range of knowledge and skills.  To give them choice and options for a future digital life ahead.

Until that day, will we continue to hear more about exam hot houses, 2 year KS3 programmes and a narrowed primary curriculum?

Until that day, will we also continue to hear opinions and suggestions from inside and outside of the education landscape about including more creative and/or STEAM based curricula?

I hope so, but under the umbrella of a broad and balanced curriculum.  We see STEM and STEAM acronyms talked about more now and when related to formal education I think in pedagogical and support terms.  And I do consider the support and national network of STEM learning, so don’t hold it against me if I slip from using the STEAM acronym when you think I ought not to.

I’ve got a fit for purpose curriculum on my mind and look towards wider participation programmes to encourage particular groups of students into STEM subjects from the school curriculum.  Perhaps girls into Computing at KS4 or looking to the work that the Institute of Physics have conducted on gender balance over the last few years.

Let us not forget that our students make selections for KS4 from the disciplines included in STEM or STEAM, not as a subject, as options to individualise their broad and rich curriculum. Consider the constraints on those choices, through curriculum options or wider considerations, and then we recognise the difficulties in offering a STEAM approach for those who wish to pursue one.

We’ll also continue to hear more about an emphasis on teaching kids to code and forgetting about the whole computing curriculum. See, I’m education focused again and thinking about the different support mechanisms that have been in place since before September 2014 , the start of the computing curriculum and still now we hear a lot more about the CS element.  Again, another and separate conversation about supporting/developing teachers and leadership teams, but a similar theme.  The ‘T’ in STEM or STEAM within the curriculum can be broadly technological and with digital literacy linked across every subject but the foundation subject is computing.

So until the day when we see that broad and rich curriculum for every child, throughout the academic year, please stop yourself and ask ‘where and how’.  How can all schools be supported and it be reported on holistically rather than core subjects prioritised even during inspection? *

Something I question as a parent and an educator.

*I’ll leave reporting (or not) on foundation subjects to another post.

Heat transfer printing with tinkering possibilities

A birthday surprise this year was a Saturday Heat Transfer Printing course at the fantastic Leeds Print Workshop.  Result, loved it : )

Great chance to learn about basic techniques and it certainly opened my eyes to possibilities with my own e-textile projects and ambitions with creative data viz.

A snapshot of my learning steps and the foundations for adding wearables:

Exploring surface pattern imagery

First steps with heat transfer techniques centred around getting stuck in with random outcomes.

Having a go with painting, sponging and paper templates and seeing what emerges through a design process based on time to explore over cups of tea.

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Trialling brushstrokes with dye

I’d taken along some inspiration in the form of sakura fabrics from another gift, a Japanese Furoshiki project.  That was my starting point of an idea to explore with the brushes and adapt later in the day.

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Understanding the beauty of layering

It’s a few of years since the first spark of interest about printing emerged from a conversation with the Bare Conductive team.  Yep, should’ve done it earlier.  I’m hooked!

You might be able to make out my thoughts along the way, for layering circuit designs within the patterns on each textile piece, but also for layering multiple pieces for a future project.  Big thanks to Kirsty at Leeds Print Workshop for developing those ideas with me during the session.

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Using new equipment

For those of us extolling the virtues of laser cutting as a brilliant way to see your designs come to life quickly, then using the heat press gave that same feeling of (nearly) instant success.

Transferring the dye to make the surface pattern at 180˚ means my pieces are permanent as long as I stick to a 40˚ wash!

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Producing new (not blank) canvases (well, synthetics) for e-texiles

So here are the pieces created during that first session, which will now be adorned with sensors and LEDs as tinkering and research projects with the Internet of Curious Things programme.

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3D Festive Pi Hack

Told the kids they could crack open the selection box if they cracked the Python code.

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10 minutes later and I was left with the leftovers.  Next challenge is to change the colour, sequence and I get to keep the Curlywurly 😍

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Best festive accessory available for the Raspberry Pi from The Pi Hut.

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.

Maker aspirations and inspirations

PiParty was brilliant and another reminder of the strength of community in supporting and inspiring digital makers; experienced makers or those dipping a toe into projects.

Got me reflecting on my own motivations for learning, and learning from others, and took me back to the first ‘YESSSSSSSSS’ traffic light moment as I prepped a course for teachers the following week.

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And of course a chance to see new lights and hats for project inspirations, and a bag of Blink! to take back home to bling something up!


Quite often new ideas emerge from working with young makers and their teachers in schools, or at community Jam events.

It’s always 2-way, and hearing 6 year olds talking about ‘amazing’ Raspberry Pi and realising some of it’s potential makes the future of digital making look very bright indeed 😀

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Wondered about the wonders of Pi? STEM to STEAM just got large scale in Hull!

Raspberry Jams are community events organised to support knowledge share, learning new skills, gleaning new ideas and meeting other like-minded digital makers using Raspberry Pi.

In Raspberry Jam group in Hull continues to grow and expand with new ideas and new projects.  This month we held our first event in the city centre.

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The first Raspberry Jam in Hull was hosted at Kingswood Academy in November 2014. Since then, Malet Lambert became hosts in April 2016 and the most recent event was held at Central Library on Albion Street.

This city centre location has allowed us to test out a new low power network being installed across Hull, as part of the Connected Hull project, and to launch some additional exciting STEM challenges.

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More details to follow soon…watch this space.

 

Details of the next Raspberry Jam event?

Join us in Hull to make, learn, share, tinker and invent together at the next Raspberry Jam on Saturday 22 April 2017.

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Everybody’s welcome, with or without your own mini computer, and it’ll be a great way to find out more about the wonders of Raspberry Pi.

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