Dec 132013

Last Saturday (7th December) there was a Raspberry Jam at Cambridge Institute of Astronomy. This one was a bit different from previous jams because we had some beginners’ Scratch workshops for children in the morning.

I was tasked to lead the workshop. The support was tremendous. There was a small army of people setting up ~20 Raspberry Pi systems when I arrived. Another small army assisted with the workshop itself, intervening when the children needed a prod in the right direction. Thank you to all these helpers. It couldn’t have been done without you.

We had two sessions. One on Scratch basics, for which we used the Code Club introduction and their first “lesson”. These materials are really good and pretty easy to follow (I’m no Scratch expert). Everyone managed to get Felix the Cat chasing Herbert the mouse, who moved around according to the mouse pointer’s (get it?) position.

As you can imagine in a room with >30 kids and 10+ adults, it got quite noisy. But it was good, excitable noise. Here’s a shot showing what it was like…

Scratch Workshop, photo courtesy of Andy Batey

GPIO with the Pibrella

In the second session we did some GPIO work using Simon “@Cymplecy” Walters’ ScratchGPIO 4 and the yet to be released Pibrella board from Cyntech and Pimoroni.

Mike Horne, one of the Jam organisers, had prepared a really nice worksheet on the Pibrella. But something interesting happened with this. Once they’d been shown how to control the LEDs, they ALL wanted to do their own thing. This was amazing. So for the last 15 minutes, I just shut up and enjoyed seeing what they would do.

Empowering Kids and Unlocking Desire to Code

Once they were empowered to “make it do what I want” it was as if “the lights went on” in their minds (not just an LED). A realisation that “I can control stuff with a computer if I program it”. How cool is that?

Unlock desire to code! This was awesome and gave me a great feeling. But then on Monday this email (and another similar) was forwarded to me from one of the parents…

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Richard W
Date: Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 9:17 AM
Subject: Thanks
To: Mike Horne


I'd just like to say a huge thanks to you and Tim for organising the Jam on
Saturday, and especially to Alex for leading the kids programming workshop
in the morning. I don't have email addresses for them, so I'd be grateful
if you could pass this on for me please?

Imogen came away so enthused by it all and itching to take things further,
which was wonderful to see! This looks like it could be the start of a
long and interesting future for her!

Thanks also to the company who provided the snap circuits kit to the
children. That was an amazing touch and will be really useful for
introducing new concepts to her as and when she's ready for them.

Thanks again,

Emails like this make all the effort worthwhile. A tremendous amount of effort was put into the planning and organisation of the Jam by Mike Horne, Tim Richardson and Andy Batey. Thanks guys. It’s worth it when we get emails like this :)

Thanks also to Computerlinks for their generous contribution towards the equipment.

HDMIPi First Public Appearance

Later on, Dave Mellor and I gave a lightning talk about HDMIPi, which Andy Batey recorded and put up on YouTube…

All the Talks Were Recorded

The fabulous Andy Batey streamed and recorded all the talks from the Jam and put them up on Youtube. This is great because I missed a lot of them. It also means that you can see what was going on, even if you missed the Jam.

Cambridge Jam Youtube Videos link

  8 Responses to “Cambridge Raspberry Jam”

  1. Brilliant :-)

    I was really pleased to see how enthused the kids got too.

  2. […] Because of having to sort everything out in the foyer, I didn’t see much of the workshop in action. However, Alex has blogged about his experiences leading the session over at RasPi.TV. […]

  3. […] Because of having to sort everything out in the foyer, I didn’t see much of the workshop in action. However, Alex has blogged about his experiences leading the session over at RasPi.TV. […]

Leave a Reply