Busy week including start of our SLRJam Code Club and MozFest 2015 Review

Code Club, Coding, MoZFest, Physical Computing, Raspberry Pi

With Fire Fox @ MozFestAfter a busy week of Music Scholarship mornings, it was nice to finally get to the weekend. I played at the first music morning with a really crooked bridge on my cello so, as you can imagine, it didn’t go so well but I did much better with the piano and singing. Note to self  “Mustn’t let coding take over too much”.  I’ve got about eight weeks to improve and prepare the formal music auditions in January.

We’ve also started our South London Raspberry Jam Code Club, that mum and me were really looking forward to until our amazing ‘fix everything’  friend told us he couldn’t make it. Poor mum, but she said it’s something that happens and that we should just go for it and enjoy ourselves.  There were nine young coders and with their parents help too, we managed to have a good time but there were some, mainly technical, hiccups. So this week we’ll try to be more prepared.

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IMG_9955On Saturday, I started my MozFest experience by joining an amazing workshop by Dave and Carrie Anne, from the Raspberry Pi Foundation,  called ‘Astro Pi – Your Code in Space‘.  This is my second  Astro Pi workshop with Carrie Anne (last time at PyCon) and it didn’t disappoint.

IMG_9974I made this amazing animation of a Minecraft creeper blowing up. Using Python I had to import time, create five different pictures, one after the other – like Stop Frame Animation. I got some brilliant help from young coder – Yasmin Bey She really is cool and knows so much about coding & Minecraft.  Joseph, another cool coder, was also part of the team.

IMG_9970Anyway – I had to import the Astro Hat library and then define the colours – like black is (0, 0, 0)  and red is (0, 255, 0) and then re-define them as letters ‘bl’ for black  & ‘r’ for red.  Then I had to write out these letters to define colour for each LED on the Astro Hat – on a 8×8 grid (using rows – see photo above). It was a really excellent session.

CTaPiGmU8AAg05bThen it was lunch time which was far too healthy – chicken, pulses (yuk) and roast veg (yuk). So I managed to get some bread from the Low Carbon kitchen guys and I made a chicken sandwich.  Mum grabbed some ‘great’ coffee and we went for a wander around.  We went to visit Su ” Ruler of the 8th Floor” (quote from @fth_nix)Adams. She had set up an amazing space with these Spheros and track laid out for it.  Su was there with her students and son who are all cool coders and they showed me how to set up the Explorer Hat to run motors.

IMG_9977Then we wandered into this Gaming section where I played a game using a mobile phone controlling each of four cars – very cool. Then mum lost me cos I went and played Table Football rigged up to a RPi and a screen that represented our play  as a Fifa-like digital game.

Mum talked to many more people, like the Mozilla Learning Network people for Toronto & Chicago and a really nice person, Nick Weinberg from LittleBits  who has Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) like me. He came over to the Youth Zone to meet me and when he described his experiences of TS – I felt like I could really relate to him. He had the same sniffing tic I have  – as if you have a cold but it’s actually a tic. Mum really appreciated the time he spent with us. I really hope we will keep in touch. I would love to able to become a Beta – tester for  the new LittleBits products!  Nick is going to check it out when he gets back to the US. Thank you Nick – talking with you was one of the best parts of the whole weekend.IMG_9987

So much happened – I talked to these guys with Ardunio kits and they helped me to make a night light, which I then  adapted using ‘C’ .  Another great thing – I met the Arts Award team and this really cool journalist, Tom  Inniss who works with the Arts Awards Voice part, interviewed me and has written a really nice article – that my mum is very happy about because she’s mentioned too!

Video interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKh_SwiCumA …

Article in Arts Award Voice website:

http://www.artsawardvoice.com/magazine/articles/femi-owolade-coombes

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Finally on to Sunday when I had my own  ‘Physical Computing with the Raspberry Pi‘  workshop to deliver. Wow I was the youngest facilitator at MozFest this year. We used our lap-docks from Osper and the Raspberry pis from the computer kits that Kano gave us. Actually, we also used the CamJam EduKits/Sensor kits and  Monk Makes  Electronic Starter kits donated by Pi Hut, CamJam and Monk Makes.  But before I could run the session, can you believe it, I had to do my homework – at MozFest!

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So how did my workshop go down?  I thought it was awesome. there were loads of people, young and old, who came to see what the Raspberry Pi was all about. Showing how you can rig up a breadboard to control LEDS and sensors, was great a great introduction to Physical Computing. We set a challenge: if they  could complete three working circuits, or two circuits if using Python code, then they would get a prize.

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Mum had met some really cool ‘girl coders’ the day before and it was so nice to see them arrive at the beginning of my session. They all gave really nice feedback about the workshop. Thank you for being so kind.

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” Femi was a really good teacher, like when we short-circuited the pi he really helped us rebuild the circuit”

“He was really good. We were really surprised as he knows way more than us – even though he’s six years younger than us”

There were also lots of young people who wanted to know how to use their own Raspberry Pis, but also experienced computer engineers who wanted to have a go too. It was really nice to see them mix up and help each other.

My workshop participants

IMG_9994Our friend, Andy, from Southend Raspberry Jam  helped us too – thanks Andy.  It was really busy for two hours and then after it got quieter, mum let me go to a ‘Hacking Minecraft‘ session. Later on, towards the end of the afternoon me and my little brother, Alex (age 5), visited Nick  and had a play around with the LittleBits – looking at the Synth kit that another kid had attached to a cardboard guitar – it was really good. Alex played the LittleBits set up with a motorised fan controlled by a button.

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I also got registered with Mozilla’s Open Badges Academy – gaining a Participant’s badge and, when I send in the photo evidence, the Facilitators’s one. There are over 5,000 badges you can get. Mum talked to Matt (@MattDigitalMe) about setting up something for our SLRJam Code Club and other groups we work with in the future.

All in all, I had an amazing time and because me and mum really prepared for the workshop – it went really well so  we could enjoy the experience along with all the cool people who took part in the session. A great big thank you to Dorine Flies and Mozilla for inviting us to share the MozFest experience – hope to be invited back next year!

*Just a little note to say that I’ve decided to set up a separate ‘Product Review‘ section on this blog  – so watch this space and tune in again next Sunday evening.

Bye for Now!

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