#Makersphere2016 One word = Awesome @biglesp @ItsAll_GeekToMe 

On Saturday the 18th June 2016 members of the local tech community along with staff and parents from St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary School Penwortham, opened our school doors and invited people back to school for a free digital event called Makersphere. 

It had been many months in the planning, many late nights preparing and plenty of giggles along the way. Organisers Les Pounder, Rachel Lancaster and our very own Mrs Clemo and Mrs Lowe each brought their own individual strengths to the planning and the outcome far exceeded all expectations. 

Over 350 people attended the day and participated in 6 hours of back to back workshops in 12 rooms catering for all ages and abilities. Workshops included creating your own digital pet using the same technology that astronaut Tim Peake had used aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Wearable technologies were the must see event with children creating illuminated bags or pencil cases by sewing with conductive thread. Children also used fruit as a form of input with Codebug, learnt how to take control of a Minecraft world with code and created huge buttons for a Giant reaction race. The children even had the chance to learn about robotics and step into virtual reality.

The day was a great success and has spearheaded an increased interest in Computing and creativity in the classroom. Before attending this event most people would have been forgiven for thinking that a Raspberry Pi was something you serve up with cream and that Codebug, Scratch and Microbit sounded like cartoon characters.   

Children and adults left with a number of ideas and resources to help them take the next step into a brave new world where they will shape the future with inventions and ideas based on these pocket money devices.

We would like to thank everybody who helped out in not only the day but also the run up for their kind donations of equipment & time. Some of whom are pictured above and others who had gone home to lie down. Without ur support the day would not have been as successful as it was. We hope we see u back next year for: #Makersphere2017


Teachers & Pupils coming together to learn from each other @CASinclude #includeConf

Earlier this year we were lucky enough to be asked to run a demo stand, deliver a workshop with @all_about_code and for @girls2geeks to give a talk, at the CASInclude Diverserty Conference 2016 at Manchester University. Of course we jumped at the chance.

So on Saturday June 11th 2016 we packed our trolleys, set of early, then unloaded our equipment ready for the 9am start.  The day was based around 5 strands:

Gender, Ethnicity, Disability, Socio-economic & SEN. The aim of this years conference was to bring together the teaching expertise of classroom teachers, the knowledge and experience of industry professionals and academics to enable them to create opportunities for all to learn new and practical strategies, to teach back in the classroom across the 5 strands.

The day started off with 3 talks 1 of which was given by our very own @girls2geeks Elise. Her talk was about how to encourage girls into coding, her experiences and what changes she would like to see in the future. The talk was truly inspiring and many teachers had plenty of questions to ask at the end, I mean who better to answer them than an 11 year old girl coder facing the difficulties most females in this profession do.  

After the talk we fit in some demo time before the workshops started. What was lovely about the children running the demos was the questions, teachers asked them they really wanted to know the children’s views and were really interested in what they were learning and wanted to learn in computing at school. One of the things that really came across was how passionate these teachers were about computing and getting it right for their pupils, after all this was a Saturday and here they were all day with the focus on developing their knowledge.  

The first workshop we attended was called Bees Can Dance by Dawn Hewitson, we must admit we didn’t quite know what to expect, but we can honestly say that we have never had as much fun in a workshop ever before. We started off by watching some short footage of how Bees actually use code, then we watched a dance routine to Pharell Williams, Happy and had to find the code within the dance. It was something we had never thought of linking before but once you do it is so easy to see. The really fun bit though was when we broke into teams to write a code to our very own dance, that we then had to teach the rest of the class. We had so much fun doing this that we ended up trending on Twitter with one of the dances. Let’s put it this way we don’t think we will ever be able to listen to Night Fever again without remembering the dance.  

When it was time for lunch we couldn’t quite believe our eyes this was no ordinary buffet this was a banquet fit for royalty and we really did feel spoilt.  

Once lunch was finished we were ready for another workshop we still had an hour before ours was due to start, some of us decided to go for the Minecraft one with Sarah Zaman and the rest of us went into Codebug with Tom Macpherson. We thoroughly enjoyed both workshops gaining not only new knowledge and ideas, but also newly purchased gadgets we couldn’t resist to buy from Codebug.

It was now time for our very own workshop led by Joshua AKA @all_about_code ,this was a physical computing workshop using the CamJam EduKit and the Python library that Joshua had written to support it called EduPython. This library is a very simple way to write code for the EduKits in fact it even has SEN flash cards to use if needed, however that doesn’t change the fact that using breadboards is fiddly and requires patience and that is tricky at a Primary school level, so Joshua is working on a product to alleviate this. The workshop however went really well, everybody enjoyed it and achieved, we were able to give advice when needed and help out when people were stuck. The feedback from those taking part was really encouraging and what came across most was how much they enjoyed learning from children.

Before we knew it, it was time to pack up after a very encouraging and enjoyable day. The thing that stood out most about this day was how thrilled the teachers were to have demos and a workshop run by children, making it different from any other CPD training they had ever attended before, who knows it could be the future, but all we do know is we want to do it again and again!

June 2016