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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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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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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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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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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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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Bridlewood

Delighted that Bridlewood Primary have joined our TPAT Trust. We will soon be exploring crumble kits together – to add physical computing fun to their upcoming school Design Technology project.

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St Mary’s join the fun!

Literature Alive – from Digital Writes – is now well underway. Keith and I enjoyed our first visit to St Mary’s on Thursday – coinciding with World Book day. From next week we will begin working with a selection of pupils from St. Mary’s to develop the interactive game book. When asked, during our assembly, what would be different about our book to other books, the answer came back: “everything”!

https://www.digitalwrites.org.uk/literature-alive
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PA Consulting Competition update

All three of the ARC entries are gathering momentum. There is just one month left before the closing date of this year’s competition – which equates to four hours for us! Although only one entry (The Thermal Imaging project) could actually be described as a “robot”, it has been wonderful to see each team applying their coding, construction, and debugging skills in earnest.

https://www.flickernet.net/arc2
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Interactive Book

The Digital Writes pupil-powered creation is well underway: bringing new meaning to the phrase “immersive”, our Literature Alive project is demonstrating what Unity software can enable children to accomplish, even when they may have decided previously that reading or writing was not for them.

Key Stage Three pupils at the School Of Solutions – a vitally important alternative provision unit which is part of The Park Academies Trust – are experiencing cutting edge ‘world-building’ software whilst contributing their creative ideas towards a digital book like no other.

It is a virtual game book – a successor to the ‘play-your-own-adventure’ stories that allow multiple routes through the text. Turn to certain pages and the book becomes an active 3D world, based on the content of the story that is unfolding and which they can then explore.

A total of four Swindon schools, two Primary and two Secondary – as well as the Museum of Computing – are taking part in this Arts Council funded project. Full details are here, with a great demonstration video (2 mins) to be found on YouTube here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UebRsEgG30Q
https://www.digitalwrites.org.uk/literature-alive
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SWLEP visit

Thank you to Laura and the team for a great welcome to the BCC building in Chippenham. This is the UK’s first Business Cyber Centre. We were there to talk about physical computing, but it was also fascinating to be shown around this super high-tech space with ‘living walls’ and soundproof booths!

I am very much looking forward to supporting our wonderful LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) over the months and years ahead. Please see this link for more information about how physical computing can be supported in your school.

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S2L

The Space To Learn page is gradually taking shape. Over the next few months I will share the ways in which I aim to develop outdoor educational technology from our foothold in the Mourne Mountains. Expect live data streams; real world applications of physical technology; and an exploration into new ways in which STEM subjects, creative writing and historical investigations can benefit from a natural environment that is fully plugged in.

https://www.flickernet.net/s2l
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Robo Race

Christmas fun at ARC when we set our Kitronik Move Motor robots to race each other along a winding track around the classroom! Some pupils kept it simple – follow the line – others included their ultrasonics and yet others played Christmas carols en route! With a large chocolate first prize and spot prizes for best dressed robot – there was every incentive to fine tune the active code!

https://www.flickernet.net/arc2
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Literature Alive

I am so excited to be joining Keith and the team at Digital Writes. Over the year ahead I will be helping with their wonderful mission to encourage reading and writing through the creation of interactive game books: imagined, planned and built by pupils from multiple schools and community groups.

This will be the first time that Flickernet has teamed up with a different organisation in this way:

  • providing guidance on the innovative uses of technology to promote learning
  • being a part of session delivery
  • recording then editing the journey into a video documentary.

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