Next steps: Building a Digital Foundation (Spin turns confined to đŸ’ƒ)

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.


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!


Tech to Tango: Another data-informed personal dance ambition đŸ’ƒ

Mission accomplished?

Well, yes for the simple answer. And hopefully a bit more of an insight through this post to explain:

  • A determination to explore any impact on dance performance using data, an armoury of ‘blinged up’ tech tools and the influence of role models.
  • The eventual learning gains from stepping out of a dance comfort zone, into the unknown, to accelerate progress.
  • The 1980’s inspired gel hairstyling on the profile photo!

I took the opportunity to dance in Blackpool again earlier this year, and to qualify had to up the ante to reach a higher standard.

Hard work but also a chance to learn more through a data route and experience a new discipline along the way.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Back to ‘core values’ to strengthen my core has become my biggest priority and that’s seen me stepping into the Thai kick-boxing arena.  Why? Because it feels like learning to dance felt right at the beginning – completely out of my comfort zone! It’s helping to build up stamina and confidence, but more than anything it’s introduced me to another world class role model, and she’s made a huge difference.

We’ve taken data from wearables and IOT projects to allow me to measure my own progress.  That’s always been important, alongside exams and belts, and I should add that I was always insistent about about the focus being on fitness and not contact.  In the past we’ve looked at sleep data in parallel to activity, and now recovery has a greater significance than physical exertion.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Of course the data trail still includes a dance programme, although that took a tricky spin turn in the Spring when Things Hull  became connected in a somewhat accidental way.  I hadn’t intended to publish openly, but GPS gave too many clues to unusual logging of one of our data sets and questions were asked!

data map.jpg

Next steps see me taking a break between work projects to concentrate on dance, and that’s got tango written all over it.

From that, data will lead me to a next challenge and a September launch.  More to follow then 😀

Leeds Raspberry Jam, 6th July 2016

Robots, clocks, game making, Pygame and musical compositions with Sonic Pi.

This month’s jam was a blend of personalised projects and inspiration through collaboration.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We got the chance to do a bit of clock watching this new timepiece.  There’s something wonderful about seeing binary in colour 🙂

Details about the project from this link to The MagPi magazine article, for anybody interested in building one themselves.

We were also joined by some of the Young Makers’ group from Swallow Hill, who came along to develop their robot making.

Of course, add one robot to a Jam and another one very quickly appears. We soon turned to more plans from more of the group for the April 2017 PiWars event and challenge.

Next dates will appear on Eventbrite and through @LeedsRaspJam next week.

Hull Raspberry Jam, Saturday 25th June

Great to see the Raspberry Jam community growing in Hull.

This weekend we welcomed over 40 people into Malet Lambert School, on a sunny Saturday morning, to share and learn together using Raspberry Pi.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

New collaborations forming, and family learning challenges extending, as teams expand with added experiences and programming snippets from others.

One of our workshops centred around using the Invent With Python resources to play and hack games together.


With a community of young digital makers, adult programmers and developers, inventors, teachers and parents, we see exciting projects emerging from our introductory hands-on workshops.

Shared experiences and ideas can quickly develop with those connections and project boxes of kit and gubbins at the jam.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Examples above from one of our younger members, who has used what she already knows about project possibilities with Python to author interactive fiction stories.

Sharing Lord of the Rings adventures leads her to animation tinkering with one of our Sense Hats.

And as we hear about another group using sensors on the hat to control their hacked squirrel from the first workshop, the snowball effect on ideas continues.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Personal projects still continue, making use of on-site Q&A and extra kit.  Game making with Scratch and then developing controllers.


Or exploring Jon’s tweeting selfie cam idea and pledging to start your own build:

Smile 🙂

Connecting sensor modules with Flotilla from Pimoroni led to ideas, inventions and conversations about Raspberry Pi and the internet of things.


And adventures with Sphero got more interactive as our youngest member quickly got used to the interface and we tried to jump 🙂


Seems like the idea of robot building, and a day out to see even more robots, is appealing to more than just our members who have highlighted 1st April 2017 on the calendar and started making already.

Look out for Team @HullRaspJam visiting PiWars in Cambridge!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Check out @HullRaspJam and Eventbrite for upcoming news about a next date in the Hull Raspberry Jam diary.

Raspberry Jam in Leeds – March

We got musical, retro and nostalgic in a number of ways this month as members of our community shared projects old and new.

Playing the theremin, Clara Rockmore style, gave us ideas with gesture control and modern day equivalents.

And of course Clara’s musical artistry, and performances ‘playing the waves’, gave us more than a few creative ideas to bring back to 2016 and the future.

Clara Rockmore (1911 – 1998)

Another project turning heads and tuning ears was the 8-track hack.  Now with a Raspberry Pi embedded in the back of the player there are numerous musical possibilities to hear.

Look out for astro-themed requests at next week’s Mission to Mars Jam.

A collaboration project emerged to set up the drumhat from Pimoroni on one of the Raspberry Pi.

With further plans to crank up the volume and add a pianohat to work in stereo, we have the proverbial Leeds Jam band getting together.

It wasn’t all about music though, as we got updated disco lights on a home automation system and more gaming updates from our media group.

Not forgetting the latest designs in LEGO-Pi cases!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The chance to try out the new Pi-droid device was taken up by many of us asking about the benefits of linking Android to a touch screen through Raspberry Pi.

More information about the Berryboot installer , which turned out to be an ingenious space saver and multi-purpose device with the touchscreen solution, from the link.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Where to next?

We’ll see you at the launch to Mars on Saturday 12th March.

Ground Control is at Swallow Hill Community College, in Leeds.  Don’t forget to grab your ticket below.  5, 4, 3, 2, 1……


Solving real life problems with Flotilla: Successful pairing of clean socks from the laundry basket

Our Flotilla kit from Pimoroni arrives and the first project is 4-fold:

  1. Check out ‘intuitiveness’ in the usual household fashion of what’s possible in 10 minutes without reading the instructions.
  2. Explore how we can expand IOT possibilities with Raspberry Pi and learn more about inputs/outputs with these new sensors.
  3. Have fun and a bit of mischief (that’ll be me reassigning chores and trying to make them exciting).
  4. Seeing an end to the realisation during work meetings that you’ve put on odd socks in the dark winter mornings.

Set up stage 1: A quick sudo aptget update and upgrade and we’re away:


Set up stage 2: An even quicker reboot and we’re connecting and tinkering in Rockpool.


Set up stage 3: A few decisions about colour sensors, RGB values and inputs/outputs. And then a quick test to get the ‘colour-o-meter’ working over random moving pets and confectionery wrappers.


Set up stage 4: The great sock-o-meter test (actually, the better test will be next week in brightly lit meeting rooms).

The mind wanders….

Bit of an update with another one to come mid-January:


Update: I should’ve remembered that you can’t rush the full beauty of a Christmas amarylllis!  Here it is……..and the truth sensor worked.

PINK, definitely PINK 🙂


Back to Uni & making way with a new MakerEd Research project.

Last year’s Jam Packed Tour was an amazing experience.  That’s a description in the cold light of day, and along the way I was known to have use figurative language comparisons along the lines of ‘bonkers, crazy and nuts’.

Not least that Alan and I had agreement from our employers to be released from commitments on ‘JP Fridays’ with our full-time role.  That was just the start of the fun*.

Throwing open the proverbial school doors with invites to community events on the Friday evening and Saturday more than cemented those initial Jam Packed aims and intentions at submission stage.

Along with Dave’s pedagogical and programming experiences in what I now know are generally (TNT) explosive situations, we soon realised what was possible with such a small team as we collaborated with the community.


Manchester Makefest

The tour gave an opportunity to engage with thousands, literally thousands, of learners, teachers and friends (old and new) from the Tech, Education and Maker communities.  Some were established advocates and specialists, whilst others took the chance to come along and explore the community for the first time.

And that gave me so many moments to ask everybody questions, learn from each conversation and give another clear perspective and focus for personal next steps.


Jam Packed Friday in Salford

Some of you know that, many moons ago, I started teaching with a Business Tech BEd. At the same time as following a traditional path teaching ICT I took the opportunity for personal CPD and eventually became a SENCO.

That background with special educational needs and inclusion in schools should go some way to explain my passion and commitment to extending opportunities for all.  And that’s where I became fascinated by the Maker Movement and Digital Making projects in education.

What’s next, then?

I’m excited to have been granted another sabbatical from work this year and have joined a small research team at Leeds University.  Most definitely a part-time commitment, this means that there’ll be a couple of us working with a small number of schools (teachers and students) in Leeds.  Note the similarities with a small team and huge development opps?!

The title of the research is ‘Digital Making across the curriculum: a socio-material intervention’.  In essence, it’s aim will be to identify ways that teachers explore the role of digital making in school, and within their curricula areas.

There’s more to add than that, but we’ll share through social media over the coming months.

That should also explain the recent travels to the FabLearn15 Conference at Stanford University.  As much as I’ve dreamt about visiting the resident sealions at Pier 39, and reflecting with a glass of wine, it was a personal development journey focused on digital fabrication activities in education 🙂

FabLearn summary gallery

And it was fun*.  Even now I continue to wear the rose tinted JP spectacles and the memory that with a small team, a round of large Americano coffees with extra shots and cake, anything is possible.

Previous Older Entries