Tag Archive for: computing

Summer Holiday Happenings

One of the great things about working in the university, is that we get to hear about the interesting research that our colleagues do.  Now you can do the same.  Over the summer, our friends in Geography and Computing are running family workshops as part of their research, and they’d love for you to come along and find out what they do.

  1. Craft workshops

David Verwij is running crafting workshops as part of his research into the ‘Internet of Things’ (no electronics involved).  And as a special treat he is offering Stroopwafels – a delicious Dutch caramel biscuit.

Monday 23rd July and Thursday 26th July between 1pm and 4pm at Ampersand Inventions in Newcastle.

For more details and to book tickets use this link.

2. Treasures of Newcastle workshop

Join geographers Jon Swords and Mike Jeffries as they explore the treasures of the North.  What do YOU think makes the north special?  What needs to change?  If you like maps, or colouring, or treasure, or all three then pop in to this drop-in session.

On Thursday 26th July between 11pm and 3pm at Great Museum of the North: Hancock.

3. Great Exhibition of the North Family Expo

Join NUSTEM, and a host of other organisations, at GETNorth Family Expo.  We’ll be taking our robot orchestra along for visitors to have a go at making their own musical instrument playing robot!

On Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th August at St.James’ Park, Newcastle.

For more details, visit the GETNorth website.

 

Do pop along to one or more of these events – they should be great fun.

(Raspberry) Pioneers, Bright Ideas: opportunities for secondary students

The lovely people at the Raspberry Pi Foundation – the folks who spend the money made from selling all those zillions of credit-card sized computers – have launched their programme for 12-15 year-olds, Pioneers. The idea is: a group of friends gets together, they find a mentor (an adult who can help them along, and also sign things on their behalf), then they take part in a mass group challenge. There’s a fresh challenge every three months, and the first one’s just been announced; see the film above for details, but the basic idea is, “Use technology to make us laugh.”

There are prizes for the best japes, hence there’s a submission deadline of 22nd March 2017. The plan is also that the challenges produce starting points and examples for a huge range of projects, all using digital technology, so everyone can learn from everybody else. Or something like that.

Interested? There are more details at the Pioneers web page, along with links to register a team, information for mentors, suggestions for starting points, and so on.

We’ve been waiting keenly to see what the Pi Foundation ‘do’ at secondary to follow on from their Code Club offer for primary ages, and we look forward to seeing how Pioneers develops. We’re particularly looking forward to laughing at some of the creations from this first challenge.

Shell Bright Ideas Challenge

Meanwhile, if you’re after a more traditional sort of competition, Shell UK are again running their Bright Ideas Challenge. Unsurprisingly, their challenges are based around energy. Here’s the glossy introductory film:

There are a range of ‘what-if…?’ future technology challenges, along with resources for participants and teachers and further films to introduce each of the challenges, on the project website. Submissions are due by 21st April 2017.

Here at Think Physics orbiting world headquarters we have mixed feelings about competitions for secondary students. They certainly can be of value to students, but there are so many of them it’s hard to know which are worth investing time in. In this case, project resources look comprehensive and well-presented, so it should be straightforward to take a look and see if Bright Ideas seems a good fit for you and your students.

If your school took part in Bright Ideas last year, leave a comment below or drop us a line to let us know how it went, and whether you’d do it again.

Register your school for BBC micro:bit

Confused by Raspberry Pi and Arduino (not to mention Espruino, Beagleboard, Edison, and all the rest)? Don’t despair, things are about to get even more convoluted!

The BBC are introducing a whole new platform to the education mix, with their micro:bit available to every year 7 child in the UK. The board itself is the centrepiece of a whole education initiative, “Make It Digital”, which aims to build on the legacy of the original 1980s BBC Computer Literacy Project, which itself spawned the original BBC Micro. So, surrounding the new board will be a whole ecosystem of learning materials and projects. There’s also a rather interesting web-based programming tool, built on Microsoft’s TouchDevelop, which looks like it might neatly bridge the gap between popular introductory tools like Scratch and follow-on approaches like Python and Arduino’s C environment.

Arguments about whether the BBC should have gone this route are largely moot at this point – as a publicly-funded body it’s hard for them to be seen to back any commercial product, even if it’s wholly open (Arduino) or sort-of commercial but warm and cuddly (Raspberry Pi). Besides, the array of Make It Digital project partners is huge.

So micro:bit is coming, and hopefully bringing with it a vast array of high-quality resource material. And best of all, it’s all free. Or at least, one micro:bit per year 7 student will be – the rest of us will have to buy the things, but that’s still a great start.

Register your school now to receive micro:bits for your 2015 year 7 group, via this web form.

No, really: if you’re responsible for ICT in your school, fill the form in. Micro:bit might turn out to be a distraction, but there’s a decent chance it’ll be a superb platform and ecosystem for investigations and embedded projects. I’ll be trying to get my hands on a few micro:bits when they become more widely available, and I look forward to building things with them via Think Club.

Additional links:

Tag Archive for: computing

Robot Coding

Learn how to use a simple code to control a robot by playing our game. Grab some scissors, a felt tip pen and our game print outs and you are ready to go.

The Cryptographer

Extension material for our Cryptographer workshop, in which primary-age children explore the mathematics of data security. Do these activities at home!