Saturday, 10 May 2014

CamJam May 2014

First post of the day and a look at some of the show and tell stuff.

That's right folks an Oculus Rift working with a Raspberry Pi. Will get some video later I think.

Also might have to get a dev kit myself now to try this, bugger more money.

The old fan favourite of the Maplin USB robotic arm.

Above and below more staples of show and tell pi controlled robots.

Above a plant watering system controlled by a pi.

Less suppliers this time due to the heavier focus on workshops, and the education track. However one or two new faces displaying goods.

Such as The Little British Robot Company

Or Fuze


Seven Segments of Pi guy had a couple of new toys to show


PiHut were also here

Above Clive (Raspberry Pi boss type person for their education team) and Alan (@teknoteacher) waiting for the education track to start and give their talks.

Above from the show and tell, a student had made this. When he moves his arm it moves the robotic arm. Uses accelerometers which is pretty cool. I like this idea a lot, and really impressed that the student came up with this. A great idea love it.

My bit of CamJam

Well I did the talk, which ended up being more live demo of the Pibrella. Not my best moment, I hope the teachers in the room at least found it informative and could see how easy it is to program using the official python library. I know my talk was not as entertaining or interesting as the sonic pi guy. Boy was that well presented.

The workshop I was a lot happier with and that went well. There was just enough in the worksheet for people to get through, plus enough time for some to play around with the pibrella, extending what they had been shown in the worksheet. Sadly for one student after the workshop they went off to buy a pibrella and they had all been sold! I even got to meet Phil Howard who wrote the pibrella python library. Have I said how much I like the pibrella python library? No! Well it's rather good. Except for one thing and this is sooooo nit picky, the yellow LED in the library is referred as Amber! I'm not the only one to notice this one of the students tried to use the yellow LED and it failed as it wasn't defined. Luckily I had come across this and was able to point out in the library it's Amber.

It was nice afterwards that some people come up to me and thanked me for the workshop and said they enjoyed it.

So on the whole between the talk and the workshop they evened each other out to average I think.

The rest of the jam

The Educational thread was kicked off with a keynote by Clive Beale of the Raspberry Pi organisation. Clive for a long time was their only education person but now he heads a small team. Clive had the message of "Don't panic" about the new curriculum, and gave a brief rundown how the Pi fitted in and embodied some of aims and principles behind the new curriculum. There was also news that the Raspberry Pi org was launching a £1 million fund to promote computing and applications would be open soon. He also pointed out that the PiAcademy was adding two new CPD sessions in June and July with applications being taken at the moment. Once again applications are only for teachers in schools, and those of us in FE teaching in colleges are ruled out. Apparently there will sessions opened out to the rest of us in other education institutes in the future. This is a big bug bear of mine. So often those of us in FE are treated as second class citizens in the academic world. Everything is aimed at teachers these days it seems, with scraps going to FE. I wouldn't mind but it seems a slap in the face of my students. That they aren't as important as those still at school. Well that's not true, they are equally as important. And it's time they are treated as such. Wow where did that come from? Rant over.

Next up was a talk about STEM Ambassadores by Elizabeth Crilly and David Whale. It would of been nice if they had also plugged the Video Game Ambassador program too but hey that's me being hypercritical. Of note is two upcoming events of a STEM Fair Duxford on the 11/12 June this year, and and Engineering Festival on 14/10/15.

After this was a bloody brilliant demonstration of Sonic Pi by Samuel Aaron. It was a very engaging, passionate talk. I can see the use of Sonic Pi and how students get engaged with it. But as soon as he said there was a Mac/PC version (not supported at the moment) I thought why use it on a Pi then? And also that it was limited and would be fun for teaching some core principles for a few lessons but then something else would have to be used.

Next Sophie Dee talked about Code Club Pro and Code Club. The take home from this talk for me was that although the materials on their site were aimed at primary school they were being used in secondary as well.

The final talk before mine was Gordon Henderson and Fuze Basic and the case/keyboard. I like the look of the keyboard/case they sell. It looks very solid and I can see this being a good addition for the classroom. The Fuze basic looked interesting and a good alternative to Python as the text based programming language for KS3. I would of liked to have seen them demo the GPIO interface, but they did one better and showed that they were able to connect to Minecraft on the Pi. I'd love to see how the Fuze basic holds up/compares to the BBC basic that is on RISC OS (why no port to Raspbian?)

Then it was me up with my train wreck. You can see how much of a train wreck if you look at the recordings of the live stream.

I missed what was by all reports a very entertaining and inspiration talk by Alan O'Donohoe. Sadly it clashed with the Pibrella workshop I was running.

But I did catch the last three talks of the day. The Seven Segments of Pi talk was ok. While the CAS talk by Master Teacher James Robinson was good, although it did give the impression that the CAS Master teachers were rather focused on Cambridge and surrounding area. Cambridgeshire is more than Cambridge. Finally the day ended with a panel made up of PiAcademy students from the first ever PiAcademy last Easter.

Sadly my agenda of getting bits for my robot, like a chassis, maybe some sensors didn't happen, even though there were some kits there, I didn't want a pre-made kit. And some how I didn't get to learn how to solder either!

I did get to see the Kano Pi stuff that was on kickstarter. I love the keyboard they are making for it. I'd love to have that for use in class. Bluetooth, not too large but larger than the small Bluetooth one I have already. A nice usable size.

Today was an awesome day, there were some great talks, great workshops and it was great to meet up with familiar faces, and meet new ones. Did I say I met Alan O'Donohoe and how awesome he is? Alan is @teknoteacher on twitter and does an amazing podcast on teaching GCSE computing.


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