Tournament Day!

After many months of building, coding and debugging – eight noble robots lined up on the starting line for the first ever Robot Racing Club Inter-School Tournament!

With commentating teams ready in the Commentating Box and the technology primed, the first race began.

Hosts Bishopstone Primary School took an early lead. Visiting school St. Mary’s were quick to respond with their BossBot making some fierce lunges in the centre. BuggyBots and ClawBots jostled for dominance in the arena – all controlled by very focused and brilliantly supportive pupils who lined either side of the arena. 

Three thrilling rounds later, the day belonged to Bishopstone – but the smiles on the faces of St Mary’s Primary School pupils as they boarded the minibus back to central Swindon said it all: seeing their project come to life in this competition had helped them to understand that inputs and outputs, coupled with careful code, are more than abstract concepts when they make the difference in a real race such as this.

Video below!

To study the code used please visit:


Reflections on a new S2L logo

Beginning to consider what a more exciting logo might look like..

AI is great, but the woodland featured in this creation does not yet feel accurate – Mourne Park is predominantly a beech wood with venerable trees creating a canopy through which the Whitewater river flows, sometimes in considerable torrents. The AI rendering reduces this to a rather generic coniferous wood!


40 Years Later

It is a long time since I attended Kilkeel Primary School, but the large assembly hall door was just as I remember. There was a familiar sense of anticipation too..

Meeting with Helena McCabe and two of her IT team was tremendously productive. We have planned out a future KPS visit to Mourne Park to see Space To Learn in action. 

Just in time, I have the Transmission Zone camera up and running. It required a PoE extender and presented an opportunity for a sound focusing experiment. The clearing is ideal: easy to access from the main teaching area, yet undisturbed wild woodland. There is a badger / fox path running straight through it.

More information about Space To Learn here



Delighted to meet up with Isaac, a former primary school pupil today at The University of Gloucester ComX event, showcasing original game design projects.

Isaac is poised to enter his final year of studies. It was equally shocking to both of us that so many years have gone by! Isaac attributes an early introduction to Physical Computing as an inspiration for his choice of degree course. It was a privilege to be shown how far his talents have now taken him.



Continuing an exploration into remote sensing and the ability to experience an environment from afar – the latest WoodsCam overlooks a badger set, extending the range of the cameras further into the woods.


Pressure Pad / Robot Wheels

In preparation for the inter-school robot race, we are creating interactive arena features at Bishopstone. For the purposes of automatic activation, we are building pressure pads with sufficient sensitivity that robot wheels can trigger them!


Robot Claw Clash

The inter-school Robot Racing challenge is hotting up! With both Bishopstone and St Mary’s Primary schools fielding teams of robots that increasingly move in the right direction – the moment is fast approaching for Race Day! For updates on team progress, please see

To liven up the arena, we have been developing claw-bots that will chomp at unsuspecting robots as they pass!


Together In Control

Keith and I are working on a new project for shared computer control and coding. We will be creating a 3D environment in which the controller and the nature of what is controlled, will be open for pairs of pupils to develop together. We are calling it Rainbow Rebellion. More details to follow soon!

For an interactive demo, please click here!


Debate Outcome: faith in humanity restored!

Thank you to all of those who attended the first ever Bloviators debate. It was a great chance to test out the format and to explore what debating looks like when it has to be spontaneous! Of the three motions that were on offer, the motion that was voted for by those in attendance was that human beings present too much of a danger for alien life to risk making contact with us. Jamie and Miles successfully opposed the motion, pointing out how much we have to offer the wider universe!

Going forwards we will tweak the format further and take it to some local educational establishments. It is hoped that Bloviators can return to the Cirencester Baptist Church in June.

Randomizing the teams through a spinner / Fisher Price button kept us all on our toes!


Bash Bash Machine

Another name for Minecraft is BashBash – or at least in our house anyway! We first played it on a Raspberry Pi 3b – a rather simplified version, but nonetheless fun. Given the need that I find to demonstrate to pupils what a huge range of inputs are possible (cue tin foil, pressure pads, capacitive touch experiments etc) – there developed a good excuse to build a box with many connections.

Rather than have a light toggle or a buzzer sound when a connection is made – what if those input triggers meant that a Minecraft world was moved through, built and bashed? More to follow!



If, like me, you were a fan of the Tomy robot collection from the 1980s, then you may also recall the tantalising sensation born out of an awareness of what those robots were unable to do, which was almost as invigorating as what they could do.

Take Chatbot: it was equipped with a mechanical voice recorder that was primed by pulling a large level down whilst speaking a message, then triggered by remote control. Hours of fun ensued driving it around with occasional spoken messages being relayed.

Chatbot was not without limitation, however. It could not engage in further conversation – or be instructed to move – or check on the road conditions outside.

Now that it is 2024, Chatbot could – and over the coming weeks I hope to reveal one way of achieving an upgrade to this venerable robot!


Kodu on Micro:Bit

Was reminded today that the Micro:Bit / Kodu link remains a simple but effective means of providing readily coded inputs and outputs: engaging interfaces that bring virtual worlds to life. Next week we will add the pressure pads via Makey Makey – leading to pupils building their own controllers.


BETT: future fun!

BETT 24 was every bit as exciting as the ’23 gathering. Table Talks are a new initiative: the chance to share ideas with fellow educators – in our case from many European countries and as far as Angola.

My favourite corner remains the STEM zone. It was good to catch up with Ricky from DFRobot; Kevin from Kitronik, Magda from Micro:Bit and Steinar from MakeIT.

Keep an eye on the upcoming Flickernet Roadshow to see some of their new products in action!


Fumes machine

Swindon Borough Council – custodians of the Magic Roundabout – have kindly agreed to my request to site a particulate sensor on traffic lights in town. It is hoped that the busy toad will provide a new data stream to add to the mountain air / classroom feeds that are already in place.

All being well, the fumes produced by passing traffic will show pm 2.5 readings that can be viewed in realtime to provide a direct comparison to those found in a pupil’s own classroom and that found within ancient woodland in Northern Ireland. Zjeremy the robot brings the sensor into classrooms – see or

A preliminary visit to the site has revealed open WiFi access from the nearby Co-Op which could help!


Slow Motion River

The Whitewater River in Mourne Park is a what is known as a spate river. 

Torrents of water cascade down from the Mourne Mountains – usually rushing past faster than we can register. Slow motion photography helps to capture the beauty. It may look intense – but it is truly peaceful.



Robot Racing Club

Delighted to announce the start of RRC -with the ever-wonderful St Mary’s Primary School! We are currently exploring which kit works best, and hoping to develop this new club in support of neurodivergent pupils soon. Thank you to Colm and the team for providing every opportunity to explore new technologies with his wonderful class – from Unity-built gaming to the upcoming WatchBox – these pupils are pioneers!


Arts Award

Our pupils at the School of Solutions have almost completed their Arts Award. The opportunity to explore and create a wide range of artistic pieces has seen them venture to Bath for a spine-chilling Gothic experience, record their shared responses, and then develop platform games inspired by what they have seen.

Thank you Keith for leading on this project: sixteen children who were struggling to engage with mainstream school have been shown some new approaches to learning in a reliably calm and pupil-centered environment. We hope to feature a selection of their games online in the new year.


Pi Upgrades

Led by Zjeremy, (who retains what Steve (HoD GWA) affectionately refers to as a “prototyping look”!) – a number of Raspberry Pi upgrades are now taking shape. Zjeremy needs to run Scratch 3 with a bit of vim if he is to juggle multiple HATS for interfacing with. His secondary 3b board was not up to speed, but the 4b seems happier. To celebrate, he was coded into taking images of the woodland views from the second floor of Great Western Academy.

Meanwhile low cost LCD screens set into basic plastic boxes are a quick and simple addition for classroom kit. Raspberry Pi units deliver physical computing with core electronics and more advanced sensing: it is helpful to enclose them for protection during transport. A ribbon cable allows the GPIO to be extended for easy connections.

The CarFume Detector unit is almost ready for deploying on a busy Swindon street. It will mirror the functionality of Zjeremy and the Tree Pi – providing new urban data for comparison.



Thank you Francesca for featuring my recycling blog (Jumpstart The Junk) on TrilbyTV.

Having been recently introduced to Simon from the inspirational Green Machine – I am keen to continue exploring ways in which to bring old tech to life! There are so many people in need of repaired or repurposed technology – e-waste is avoided when it can still function as a valuable tool.

TrilbyTV blog

Thermal woodland trail

As the cold evenings draw in, there is a type of thermal enhancement that doesn’t warm the toes much, but that does identify hidden cctv cameras in the trees! Thank you Eden for testing out your thermal imaging mobile phone functionality in our wood!


Tech To

It is with great excitement that we are launching a new project which brings together the common threads of Physical Computing, Project Based Learning and a desire to see technology put to use helping those who most need it.

Along with my colleague Keith Phillips, founder of Digital Writes, I am beginning the process of creating a new charity, which will be called Tech To Help. This will seek to find new ways of directing the limitless creativity and enthusiasm of Primary school children to design and build real-world solutions that help people who are facing disadvantage. The site page is here – it is a work in progress!


Flickernet Archive – First Event

Sharing a particular historical archive using technology and the outdoors is an ongoing mission. As those familiar with this undertaking are aware, over the last year I have converted an 1830s schoolhouse building into an archive storage and digitisation facility. This then enabled me to begin work on the Historical Narrative – a book that seeks to weave together the many stories that belong in Mourne Park. In addition I am recalling what it was like to grow up in this beautiful place. On 23rd September a group of hardy folk joined me in the woods to hear the fist five chapters read, and media shared. Thank you to those friendly faces for their encouragement and patient listening. Video and audio snippets to follow.