I’ve been away for some time but I couldn’t miss a review of our own fabulous Autism and Tourette’s friendly Jam, especially as it was at Kano’s HQ on World Scratch Day [Saturday 14th May 2016]. Oh yeah … and we had a super Swag bag for every participant. Mum, Marc and the rest of the crew worked so hard to make this properly inclusive and extra special. Can you believe it – Kano offered to host our 3rd Jam? It was very nice to work with Code Club and get a whole load of Micro:bits from CAS – thank you Jane Waite for making that happen. So there were two parts – a Special Education Needs TeachMeet in the morning and the actual Jam in the afternoon.
I hear the TeachMeet went really well – I talked about my Tourette’s and coding and there were lots of other cool people talking about running coding events. Isreal Genius talked about his journey as an award-winning coder. I took notes! Lots of brilliant people also did talks like Trevor Bragg who talked about the BBC Micro:bit, Su Adams spoke about Mozilla and Education, Jane Waite about Computing at School, Nic Hughes on what teachers can use, Paul Hayes on teaching Unity, Joseph Birks presented his new Crumble Robot, Nevil Hunt talked about his add-on circuit boards to the Micro:bit, Joanna Bersin from Kano – who helped organise our event – talked about careers in coding and our very own Scratch specialist, Marc Grossman,talked about lots of SEN/ coding activities. You can see his very cool Powerpoint through this link : https://sway.com/uQ68jyc4TOksL6lF
Anyway down to real fun – the Jam in the afternoon. I’m really proud to say that over 60% of the young people who came were from Autism or Tourette’s families – our highest percentage so far. We tried to be more inclusive and this time we provided a ‘Zen Den’ – screen free, quiet, low lighting and cool chill-out space for anyone finding it a bit too much. We also did structured workshops but offered an open makerspace area too. So here is a run down of the workshops
Code Club: Build A video Game for World Scratch Day and Hands-On with BBC Micro:Bit
Our excellent Code Club man, Marc, came down with his crew from Croydon to run the Scratch and Micro:bit sessions. It was really brilliant, lots of young people were explored Scratch and one young coder made an amazing video game with extensive coding. Everyone was really excited about was getting their hands on a BBC Micro:bit, writing code and then making the micro:bit flash messages or become a dice, tell the temperature of the room and many more cool things.
Crumble Robot Hack
The Crumble Robot table was also very, very busy and I could see that teachers, parents and young participants got stuck in, build their robots and got them moving with code. In fact, the biggest complaint was that they needed more time and space to explore the additional features like the line following sensors. This something we will bear in mind for next time. Joseph and Neal did a great job supporting so many people. Look out for my video & review of the Crumble Robot.
Kano: Build Your Own Computer and Code Art, Games & More
The Kano table was very popular, as always, and it was so nice to be reminded how awesome their kit is when you learn to put together the computer for the first time. For the more experienced, it was a great opportunity to explore in greater detail and to learn more about what the different applications had to offer. Kano is great for independent learning – you can go at your own pace.
Introduction to Unity
Paul was a very entertaining and cool teacher of Unity. He developed a platform for a game about cats which we could then play around with to learn some of the basic menus and tools within Unity. It took some time to download the software but now we all have it on our laptops. It was really interesting and, thanks to Paul, those of us who did the workshop have had a great introduction to Unity which we can develop further in our own time. Actually I hope Paul will come back and do more workshops in the future.
Soldering and Making Circuits with Play Dough and Crafts
My dad ran the soldering station where anyone could try their skills at soldering LED lights and resistors to make cool flashing badges. One participant even came with his own project to work on. Su Adams also helped some of our younger participants to explore electric circuits with play dough and crafts. There was a lot of flashing lights and silver foil being used!
Parents’ Workshop on Scratch, Crumble, Minecraft and the BBC Micro:Bit
The feedback from this workshop was fantastic. Nic, Jane and Isreal did a fantastic job showing parents how to code using the Crumble, Scratch and Minecraft. They even got a rare opportunity to handle the BBC Micro:bit too. It was situated up in the Atrium, away from the main Kano area – so it was nice and quiet, providing parents the time and space to explore some of the activities their children are being exposed to at school.
Thanks also to Tom from TeenTech who brought the 3D LED Cube and Azoomee who ran an Internet Safety workshop – see
Azoomee have a new Tablet App for 5 -11 yr olds that provides a safe place to watch videos, play games and send messages. See video.
Nevil Hunt also show-cased his Micro:bit add-on boards for the Micro:Bit and also managed any overflow from the other workshops – showing participants how amazing the Micro:bit is. He’s the inventor of PiTrol and has some very cool products coming out so watch this space.
The event went really well, ending with a great raffle, a Show and Tell and everyone was super delighted to get a swag Swag bag to take home with them.
Thanks Kano for hosting our 3rd Jam – especiallyto Joanne for putting in 100% graft to make sure the day was extra special.
Thanks to all our partners, volunteers and sponsors:
Our great team of volunteers
Most of all – thank you to all the participants who turned up
and made the day so awesome.