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!

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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.

 

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WatchBox

Coming soon – we hope – the WatchBox! This project-based-learning endeavour will offer children the opportunity to build, code and deploy, a wildlife monitoring system of their own. This will be a new way to connect with nature.

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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!

www.flickernet.net/rrc

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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.

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Trilled

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
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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!

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Tech To Help.charity

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!

www.techtohelp.charity

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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.

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Resuming now

www.flickernet.net/jaa

Thank you for the many messages of support and condolences that my family have received.

Mum leaves a huge legacy for us to build on – an example which I will always be grateful for.

There is a link to the funeral service and eulogy here.

She would very much expect me to carry on now, which I will – in the added hope that helping others [through technology] can be a fitting way to honour what Mum sought to accomplish.

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System paused

A little note to say that, sadly, I am on compassionate leave at present due to my Mum being gravely ill. My regular schools know this, and I am grateful for their understanding. My Digital Writes colleague Keith continues to deliver our current courses. Meanwhile, with time ahead in Northern Ireland, I am preparing for the upcoming Woodland Coding events, through Space To Learn, about which: more to follow.

There are two new Project Based Learning initiatives brewing which I will be excited to share here in due course. They seek to offer a (pupil-built) helpful communication system for two distinct groups of people: those who are autistic and those who are refugees. This is my priority for TTH (Tech To Help).

An important upcoming development will be the Society of Tinkerers. Building on Flickernet Tinker, this seeks to create a forum in which TTH can be advanced as well as providing space for further projects to be skilfully investigated by those from a range of technology and educational backgrounds.

Flickernet Archive has an initial event pending, during which outdoor presentation of materials will be trialled, in support of my friends and neighbours, The Woodland Trust.

Swindon Borough Council have kindly agreed to support my extra-urban particulates sensor, which will go live (on the data page) once I have selected a location from those on offer, and installed the Raspberry Pi powered equipment.

Whilst I may be more difficult to contact over the next week or two, I am keen to resume all things Flickernet soon, and look forward to delivering all that I can going forwards.

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Boson for KS1

Enjoying exploring the DFRobot kit from BETT – this time the Boson Science equipment which is ideal for KS1 physical computing. Great Micro:Bit integration!

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Swindon’s Museum of Computing is 20!

Thank you Keith, Jeremy and the team for a fun evening at the MoC. We are fortunate to be partners with you in delivering coding sessions and are eager to resume in the Autumn with some extraordinary new physical computing interfaces.! 😉 The many guests in attendance clearly enjoyed their tours of the museum and chatting about the superb range of technology that was featured, from dusty beige to cutting edge!

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Phoenix Enterprise

Thank you Clare for meeting with us today. We are really looking forward to helping your service users to develop an illuminated logo and animated text board. The club that we will run for you in the Autumn will enable those who choose to come along to work collaboratively to design, build and code a bright solar-powered phoenix that will hang in the factory window sharing information and, most importantly, demonstrating to all what great capabilities exist in the Phoenix team.

www.flickernet.net/phoenix

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Reflections on a sabbatical year

From climbing trees in the woods of Northern Ireland whilst clutching Raspberry Pi units, to helping children who were on the cusp of quitting school to build adventure game-books, this year has been a real eye-opener to me.

It is a rare privilege to become free to teach what one chooses. I hadn’t dared believe that it could happen, but now Flickernet is full steam ahead – 24 years on from those early Dot Com years – with a new focus called TTH: Tech To Help. This is what I will be up to, going forward – please see the synopsis page for more information or if you would like to be involved.

www.flickernet.net/review

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The Art of Accessibility

Keith and I met with Ben, a Director of Digital Writes, and an inspiration. Ben is helping us to explore a new project: using physical computing to enable those with reduced mobility to create their own unique artworks. We aim to feature these artworks in both an online space and through an installation.

We will work with Primary school pupils to analyse the need, design and build a solution, then collaborate with the end user to refine a product that is genuinely helpful for them.

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Animation to Unity

This 30 second video clip shows the three step process that we undertook with both St Mary’s and SoS pupils this week.

Having drawn their game-book characters and shaded with crayon: 1. Stop motion animation; 2. Photoshop cutout; then 3. Adobe Character Animator – at which point they are sprites that can be included into any Unity game creation – in this case fitting the gothic theme!

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Micro:Bit Extras

https://www.flickernet.net/microbit

Hardly a day passes without a new Micro:Bit accessory becoming available. With Version 2 Micro:Bits having a bit more about them (!) and Primary Schools now having the offer of 30 free – it is a great time to explore the extra functionality that these offer.

As a quick guide for ARC, I have put a page together that lists some of the best – along with links to info pages / data sheets and associated resources.

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ICE cool

Huge thanks to Brea, Paddy and Laura for a great gathering at the Cyber Business Centre in Chippenham yesterday. It was great to see this amazing facility filled with students and industry representatives along with a wide range of career guidance specialists. There was a buzz throughout – that even the built-in Faraday cage and sound muffling technology couldn’t dampen!

https://swlep.co.uk/programmes-swlep/business-cyber-centre
https://www.flickernet.net/swlep

My thanks also to Sarah. It was a privilege to represent Odyssey Hub. Sarah even managed to set up a moisture-sampling experiment to check on the health of the CBC plants while we were there! Our combined eagerness to see physical computing widely adopted in primary schools fits neatly with the SWLEP vision for uptake in physical computing across our region too.

I look forward to helping with these endeavours in every way that I can going forward, in the hopes that by May ’24 we will have won the Raspberry Pi competition!

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Pre ICE deodorant experiment

Not an attempt to avoid sweating tomorrow, but rather attempting to meet a challenge set by Paddy Bradley of SWLEP ahead of my presentation at the ICE event tomorrow..

Could Zjeremy show in his live data feed a distinct difference between the current pristine tree particulate reading and the polluted air around him. No better way to pollute that air than Lynx Inca, methought – and so the data proved: careful breathing in when spraying – those particles really do fill the air!

www.flickernet.net/swlep
www.flickernet.net/data
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Gamebook Gathering

Thanks to David, Judy, Barbara, Kaye and Kimberly for joining me and Keith this morning for a Starbucks-fuelled brainstorming session!

The graphical look and feel of the book is now taking shape: think sepia -tinted, line-drawn paper edged animations that we hope will capture the imaginations of Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 pupils.

With such a wide range of contributions so far, and many months left of the project remaining (ahead of publication in December), we are going to assemble the core writing team next so that the fundamental story arc is in place ready for coding, drawing and team development.

https://www.digitalwrites.org.uk/literature-alive
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BETT

The vast, sprawling assembly of tech-enthusiasts that is BETT was every bit as overwhelming this year as in previous years. Rather than attempt to see everything, I was more than content catching a few great seminars and panel discussions, then finding my way to the Physical Computing corner.

Ricky and the team: your equipment has taken remote sensing opportunities to a new level! I am delighted to have connected with you and I look forward to sharing the immense range and functionality of what DFRobot produce in China. It will take me a few months to explore the equipment – but there is no doubt in my mind that what you have created could benefit learners up and down the UK.

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Network Meet @IoT

Thank you Tony and Marie-Ann for a fascinating tour of the wonderfully resourced Institute of Technology, recently opened on the New College Swindon campus.

Good to know that some Honda robots survive – now housed (actually caged!) within the £20m facility. We were tempted to try out the e-sports gaming rooms, but conversation was focused on cyber security and careers opportunities this time. Thank you Paul, Steve and Rupert for the tours of your departments – it is hard to imagine a finer suite of equipment to enable students to excel as the workforce of tomorrow.

https://www.sawiot.ac.uk
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