Amy Mather’s week of work experience

Liz: A few weeks ago, over the Easter holidays, we had Amy Mather, 14 years old and surpassing fantastic, come and visit us for a week’s work experience. (Check out this talk she gave at last year’s Jamboree, aged only 13; see another talk she gave at Wired with Clive, our Director of Education, and read about her in The MagPi, where she was the cover star last June.  Amy is the recipient of the European Commission’s Digital Girl award. She is keen to point out that she is a real girl too.)

Amy came to town with mum Lisa and brother Dan in tow, as well as a couple of grandparents, and it gave us a great excuse to have a more burger and pizza-heavy diet than we usually do. I asked her to write a post for us about what she spent the week doing with us when her exams this month were finished: over to Amy!

Over the Easter holidays I did work experience at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and I had an awesome time working on loads of amazing projects! When I wasn’t at Pi Towers I hung out with Ben Nuttall, and explored the beautiful town of Cambridge.

Amy and Ben

Amy’s first encounter with GitHub went swimmingly – we’re adapting the work she did into an educational resource

The first project I worked on used the Energenie, a new product that allows you to switch on and off mains plug sockets wirelessly from the Raspberry Pi GPIO. After a trip to Maplin to buy some disco lights, I created a memory game in Python with PyGame. I made it so that when you won it played Rick Astley’s Never Going to Give You Up (as suggested by Dave) and set disco lights blaring using the Energenie.

Initially there was an issue with the disco lights because they didn’t turn on straight away when plugged into the mains as you had to press a button for them to start. So to solve the problem we used a piece of cardboard and duct tape to press the button constantly! I would like to apologise to the team at Raspberry Pi for any annoying noises and distracting lighting effects that were created during the process of making that project. :) In the end, the project was used as a demo at Picademy.

Whilst I was there Ben taught me how to edit the Raspberry Pi documentation using markdown, and I added some missing parts. I then decided to write up a simple version of my PyGame painting program in the form of a learning resource. I adapted the program so that it was compatible with the Adafruit PiTFT. Adafruit’s PiTFT is a touch-screen that connects to the Pi using the GPIO pins. By combining it with my PyGame painting program you could draw with your fingers on the touch screen!

I also had my first proper play with the PiCamera, I put it to good use with PyGame as you can see:

Lizstache

Adding moustaches to Raspberry Pi employees with Pygame

One of the days Dr Sam Aaron came in and showed me Sonic Pi, (again apologies for some really offputting noises). It was great to experiment with Sonic Pi as I hadn’t had a chance to play with it before. I think it’s a great tool for teaching the beginnings of programming, with as you get instant results.

Amy and Sam

Learning Sonic Pi with Sam Aaron

On the Thursday I did a photo shoot for Wired, who came to visit Pi Towers, and spent an afternoon draped in Ethernet cables.

Amy, mid-photoshoot

Amy, mid-photoshoot

The photographer complained that my hair was in the way for a lot of the pictures…

Hairy moment

This photo is unlikely to be used by Wired.

…which encouraged Ben and Carrie Anne into having a hair swooshing competition. Look at Ben’s beautiful locks…

swoosh

On my last day I helped Carrie-Anne, Clive and Craig set up for Picademy. As a thank you present to everyone in the office, for such an enjoyable week, I handed out key rings and presented two Pi Clocks to the office, all of which I made on a laser cutter at FabLab (an awesome Hackspace in Manchester).

2014-04-11 14.19.48

This clock is now hanging on the wall by Liz’s desk, where it reminds her of Amy at going-home time.

The week was a really great experience and I learned a lot. I had so much fun working with all the talented members of the Pi Foundation team and I’m really looking forward to, hopefully, doing it again some time soon!