It's the last day of the science festival and it's been a busy time. We've had to ration out the UV torches as otherwise we would have run out a couple of days ago. We even had to close this workshop one evening when a mini riot started outside with parents trying to get their kids inside (no, we're not joking!)
First day of the Abu Dhabi Science Festival and workshops have just opened. We're down at the Corniche (the beach) along with many other workshops both inside and outside (primarily in air conditioned tents as it's so hot out here).
As part of our visit to IBM for the Raspberry Pi day we had a tour of IBM's museum. During the tour we were shown some of IBM's typewriters and after a long (but concise) explanation of the development of the typewriter, one of the kids asked what did these 'typewriter' things do? It never struck the rest of us adults that most of the children would never have seen one of these before.
We spent today at IBM Hursley, one of IBM's biggest sites in the UK, helping them test out some educational games they were working on. They wanted a bunch of kids to help them with their testing and we were happy to oblige now that the big summer events are all over.
I spent the day today at Brightworks in San Francisco. For those not familiar with this crazy school or the crazy man behind it, Gever Tulley is responsible for Tinkering School and for inspiring children at his camps over the other side of the Atlantic. If there's one thing worth watching of his, it's "Five dangerous things you should let your kids do."
Twenty six planes all built, and all in the air! Twenty five came down (pretty much) intact. This is Greg just before the maiden flight. Sadly this one went straight in a tree but we were able to retrieve it today with the help of some very long ladders, poles, and the helpful people at Ufton Court.
Last day of the Tech Train today! We've had a great week, seeing all sorts of science demonstrations, and participating in a variety of workshops from Lego Mindstorms to biotechnology. Today was mainly sightseeing, with trips to the Camera Obscura and Edinburgh Castle. Tonight we will be having a tour of the underground medieval streets before heading back to London on the sleeper train.
An exciting day today; Tech Camp has taken on it's first employee (well, sort of ...) Jack has been a Tech Camp regular for several years now and has convinced me to take him on for a year as an intern/gap-year student. I'm really looking forward to working with Jack; he is not your regular 18 year old ...
Just finishing up at the Cheltenham Science Festival. We've had a great weekend. I've been runing some "Light, Lasers and Illusions" workshops for the Family Programme, and Jack & Felix have been running laser tag with the public in the gardens. Some of the locals were really geared-up for the tech tank, but even with full camouflage some of them still couldn't reach the trigger ...
Our t-shirts arrived today! Here's Cameron modelling them. In case you can't see it, they say 'born to create'. We're pretty happy how they turned out.
Last day at our Brockhurst Tech Camp today and the children have been adding "mods" to their laser guns. Most popular were extensions to the stocks and improvements to the sights (more aesthetic than functional, but they looked cool). I'm so often impressed by the kid's creativity, and what they can come up with given a few bits of pipe, some foam board and some glue!
We had a great day today at Accenture, running some workshops for their "Bring Your Child to Work" day. We ran three workshops simultaneously; a version of our "Steady Hand" game (pictured), a UV torch workshop, and a session building crazy contraptions using our construction kit that we've been developing.
Jack just finished building up the robots for the Abu Dhabi Science Festival in October. We've made a couple of recent changes; adding a table tennis ball as a coaster on the front, and cutting out some fluorescent vinyl stickers that should look good under the UV light in the arena they are constructing for us.
We had a great day today playing with our new construction system at the Old Blue Coat School in Thatcham. Around 25 children helped us test it out and made all manner of contraptions. We were pretty pleased how it worked, although we might redesign the angled plastic connectors as they turned out to be a bit fragile.
The system is designed to be a bit similar to mecano, with a series of different length bars with equally spaced holes in them, that can be joined together. The difference is ours is more suitable for younger children - the pieces are much larger, and instead of nuts and bolts our system uses some very clever plastic rivets. These simply push into the hole, and expand to lock the two holes together - much easier for children to use. They can also be pushed back out from the other side of the hole, and reused as many times as you like. Combined with a series of small plastic brackets, the bars and rivets can be used to make all manner of creations that are quite large in scale very quickly.
Many thanks to all the human guinea pigs who helped out!
This is about the third version now of our laser tag system for Tech Camp. Every time we've built a batch with kids we've made it simpler. This time we decided that we needed just one main PCB; it now has the batteries, sensors, microcontroller, LED display bank and associate circuitry on it.