Minions take over scratch GPIO – a fantastic last club session before the summer holidays @cymplecy

  Week 8 – It’s hard to believe it is our last session before the summer holidays but what a fantastic time we had. We continued to look at Scratch GPIO which was created by the very talented Simon Walters (@cymplecy) this allows Scratch to interact with physical hardware and is a great steppingstone to then trying similar projects using a more complex programming language such as Python. Because of Scratch GPIO’s ease of use it allows children even in KS1 to also quickly get results with LEDs, switches and buzzers and begin using breadboards, resistors and jumper wires. 
The project involved us firstly looking at how a breadboard works, what job the resistors do and how to tell the difference between the positive and negative leg of the LED. The children were then given a worksheet to follow and when they felt confident their set up was correct had it checked before switching on the Raspberry Pi.

 They then opened up Scratch GPIO and designed their own Minion sprite as well as creating a new costume. Once they were happy with this they input their code so that the Blue LED and White LED (which were inside the Minion sweet) flashed on and off at the same time as their sprite changed costume on screen. The children then debugged if necessary and then played around with the timings to speed up or slow down the flashing.

 We would like to wish our Year 6 children all the best for their future at All Hallows Catholic High school. Thank you for your enthusiasm and support, we hope you continue to build on your ever expanding knowledge and look forward to seeing you progress further.


Our Digital Leaders give @_codebug the thumbs up …

  What happens when you let your Digital Leaders lose with a new product? Answer – They get veg from the school garden and turn it into a veg keyboard of course.

In preparation for September we gave a couple of our Digital Leaders a Codebug to have a play around with and let us know what they thought of it and could we use them in school. 
Within minutes they had it scrolling messages and it was able to be worn as a name/message badge. They then explored the other activities on the Codebug site and decided to get fresh veg from the school garden to make the fruit/veg keyboard. What was really impressive about this is that it was all achieved in half an hour making it very easy to fit into a lesson with something physical to show at the end of it. Another thing they felt was important was how similar the dropping of blocks of code was to scratch and how quickly the younger end of school would be able to use Codebug. A major plus side was affordability and practicality being able to hook up to the net books and move around classes with ease. 

All in all their initial thoughts on Codebug are how valuable this would be to any school to engage children’s imagination when it comes to computer programming and electronics. The possibilities are varied and endless. This product is definitely on our wish list!

Read all about when @sonic_pi got 40 children live & coding & gained 40 new fans!

  Last Thursday our school was proud to welcome Sam Aaron, Juneau Projects and Les Pounder for the Sonic Pi workshop won by Joshua Lowe back in January this year.  

 We had all been looking forward to it even though none of us really knew what to expect. It far exceeded any of our expectations – a few pupil quotes:

“I never thought I would understand coding (because I am not a computer genius ) but now I have fallen in love with it.” Laura.

“I will never forget this day!” Joshua.

“I love the speed that you can live code at, it is totally mind blowing.” Reece.

“My mum was amazed at what I had been doing and now wants me to teach her. You & your team have inspired me to code and many others as well.” Sarah.

Apart from Joshua, at the beginning of the workshop only 12 children had used Sonic Pi before when we looked at it in one of the Mary Mags Pi Club sessions, in fact many others had never used a Raspberry Pi before. Four hours later by the end of the workshop all children could set up a Raspberry Pi and code their own piece of music including live loops worthy of any nightclub dance floor. This is not only testament to the Sonic Pi software but also to the enthusiasm and passion at which the workshop was delivered. 

 The workshop started off with introductions from Sam Aaron and then Juneau Projects explaining a little bit about themselves and the Sonic Pi journey. Sam explained that – saying you don’t get technology is like saying you don’t get reading or writing. The children really grasped the concept of this and realised that coding isn’t learnt over night but you work at it and practice just like you would when learning a new language. They were then treat to Sam live coding and the jaws dropped, eyes fixated and bodies began to wiggle.  

 Totally enthused they then set to work coding their own pieces in pairs. Help was at hand if needed but most took to it like a duck to water. After a short doughnut break it was time to put the final bits together before parents arrived for the Finale.

It was now time to share the music, lights down, lasers lit, and the volume cranked up high! 

Are you sure these are the same children who said they couldn’t code 4 hours ago let alone produce a piece of music? Wow! Mind blowing.

 The Finale ended with the master at work himself and when he looked up found a queue of adoring fans waiting for his autograph.

Thank you Sam, Juneau Projects and Les for giving us this amazing opportunity. Thank you Raspberry Pi Foundation for the competition and finally thank you Joshua for entering it.

Keep coding and inspiring let the music play on!

I can solder thanks to @DGA110p @arthrgarlck @traktorfactor at #Rjam

Tonight 9 children from Mary Mags Pi Club visited Preston Raspberry Jam to learn how to solder. Dave Gallop had very kindly sourced some badges that they could solder together, to create a colour changing flashing LED badge, saying I can solder. He had enlisted the help of Arthur G and Dave Lowe and the badge cost just £1.78 to make.  The children had been excited about soldering for the past couple of weeks and were not disappointed, they did a splendid job and were very grateful for the opportunity. The task involved a lot of concentration, listening skills and hand eye coordination.  A couple of children even went on to solder a little LED board that they can now contact up to the Raspberry Pi and run a code in Python. Thank you so much Dave, Arthur & Dave for the opportunity. 

Also tonight 2 of the children gave a lightning talk on their current projects. Firstly William wowed us with his Binary clock soldering project. 

Then Joshua aka @all_about_code gave us a sneak preview of his new app called Peak Messenger and asked for advice and feedback on the project so far. 

All in all a very productive and rewarding evening at Preston Raspberry Jam which turned 3 today thanks to the hard work of Alan O’Donohoe and his fantastic support network. 

Happy Birthday Raspberry Jam Preston!