Kids! Teachers! Developers! PyConUK was a blast!

PyConUK is one of the Education Team’s favourite events of the year. We love the fact that as well as being a great community developer event, they also run an Education track for kids and teachers to learn and share.

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It started with one of the organisers, Zeth, humorously holding up a wall clock saying “This is not a bomb” referencing the recent case of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed clock incident, and it ended with evacuation from the building due to the discovery of an unexploded WWII bomb.

On the Friday, teachers were invited to the Education Track (bursaries to get teachers out of school sponsored by the Bank of America) to participate in workshops and discussion sessions. A teachmeet took place to give teachers a chance to give a short talk, presentation or demonstration of a great idea or teaching tool.

Saturday was the kids’ day. Our big interest at the moment is Astro Pi – we’re keen to see what people can do with the Sense HAT, the hardware that’s going to the International Space Station this December. Carrie Anne and Marc led workshops giving kids the chance to experiment with the board and learn about the physical world through activities using the sensors and LED display with Python.

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Nicholas interviewed a few kids and parents about their experience at the event:

PyCon UK Education Track 2015 – a Mum’s perspective

Uploaded by Nicholas Tollervey on 2015-09-21.

As well as our Sense HAT workshops there were other activities for the kids – Minecraft Pi with Martin O’Hanlon, and the Internet of Toys with Alan O’Donohoe. Meanwhile, a group of teachers from Skycademy did their own high altitude Pi balloon launch and James tethered a balloon at the venue to take birds-eye-view photos:

At the end of the day some of the the kids were asked to present what they’d done on the conference’s main track:

PYCON UK 2015: Lightning PyKids

PYCON UK 2015: Saturday 19th September 2015

Also on the main track I gave a talk on Physical Computing with Python and Raspberry Pi:

PYCON UK 2015: Python Projects on the Raspberry Pi

Talk by Ben Nuttall PYCON UK 2015: Friday 18th September 2015

(see the slides)

The next day I gave a lightning talk on the story of pyjokes. There was also a talk on teaching using PyGame Zero by Tim Golden. Read about his experiences on his blog.

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Nicholas Tollervey launched the Education track and it’s grown over the last few years, reaching hundreds of teachers and kids

On Sunday, James and Marc drove to the National Space Centre in Leicester to do a balloon launch with a Sense HAT collecting data throughout the flight. You can download the data as a CSV file – see if you can do anything interesting with it and let us know in the comments!

Carrie Anne was part of a panel discussing the state of Python and its future before the closing of the main event, and James presented some photos taken by the Pi he sent up that morning:

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On the final day we joined in with the sprints, where we invited developers to help work on some education focused projects. We had teams working on PyGame Zero, GPIO Zero and porting PITS (Pi in the Sky) software to Python.

Humongous thanks go out to the organising team, and particularly to Zeth Green who took on the running of the conference part way through the year when the long-standing chairman John Pinner sadly passed away, and Nicholas who organised the Education track.

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What a good idea! Thanks John!

5 comments

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Sounds great! What is the hardware you are using in the photos with kids for monitors/keyboards for your Pis? Is it a laptop with VNC or some kind of terminal? Looks like a good solution for many primary schools.

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They’re Motorola Lapdocks made for the Atrix phone. With the right cables, you can turn them into portable workstations for the Pi. They tend to come up on eBay.

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What a great idea! Thanks =)

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The education day of PyconUK is one of our favourite events of the year. This year my 7 year old son had his first taste of Python programming and my daughter (Amelia on the video) had fun learning more Python and creating electronic circuits connected to the Raspberry Pi. I spent the day helping my son out, so whilst I helped Amelia give her lightning talk she had made all the electronic circuits herself.

We also met up with Marc and James at the Space Centre on the following day to watch the balloon launch.

I’d certainly recommend the day for any kids interested in finding out more about the Raspberry Pi and programming. The entrance fee is a very reasonable £5 per child which is great value when you consider it also includes a goodie bag (with mug and T-shirt) and lunch for child and accompanying parent.

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If anyone would like to use our workshop resource, then you can grab the pdf from here as part of our Astro Pi and Sense HAT guide.

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