Digital making to encourage more birds into the garden

This project was used to identify more of the problems that we knew we had, meaning the squirrels in our garden aren’t daft!

A really simple timelapse project using a Raspberry Pi and PiCam module, but family-friendly preparations for some upcoming activities.

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Note to self: Nothing is squirrel proof.

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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.

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.

Next steps: Building a Digital Foundation (Spin turns confined to 💃)

Exciting times ahead!

The start of this new academic year has seen us launching The Foundation for Digital Creativity.

I’ve been blown away by the messages of support and encouragement received as I’ve ‘regenerated’ from my previous role over the Summer and new plans and collaborations emerge.

We’re on a mission to advance the education of adults and children, particularly in the fields of electronics, computing, engineering and digital literacy and inspire future generations to create, invent and learn through digital making.

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Want to know more about our upcoming activities, or chat through community and education programmes?  Get in touch, it’d be great to hear from you!

claire@digitalcreativity.foundation

Digital Making at #MakeBelieve

I learnt a lot on Saturday.  With every maker event there are opportunities for collaborations and family learning activities, and this weekend’s #MakeBelieve focus was about young people imagining the tech of the future.

That saw paired projects with peers, intergenerational activities and individual inspirations and inventions at Leeds City Museum – all part of the awesome programme from the Leeds International Festival, and curated by Playful Leeds.

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We transported Leeds Raspberry Jam to the festival with a range of family-friendly challenges.

Digital making projects using Raspberry Pi included Minecraft hacks with Python, gaming with Scratch and exploring connections with GPIO.

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With imagination as the catalyst for invention, it was great to see how challenges progressed and digital stories changed directions with questions and input from others; not necessarily from a coding perspective.

We also had examples of projects from the group of digital makers at Swallow Hill, who have been making Yorkshire-themed robots and taking inspiration from the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s #Pioneers programme.

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So what did I learn?  On reflection later that evening, and catching up with the day’s news:

I want to bring back my imagination and gawp at the future like a child again.  And then I’ll reflect like an adult.  And then as a child.  And as an inventor.  I’ll reflect on them all as inspiration and insight, thanks.

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Big Tech Vs Big Brother: how do you view technology? FT link 29.04.17

 

Shout out to Playful Anywhere for inviting us along and curating a Maker event in Leeds for, literally, everyone.  Through the eyes of the children and their inventions, I came away with so many ideas.

And to @BloodyNoraDJ for the images taken on the day – every one a unique maker story 😀

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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