Digital Maker CIC – CPD for the College Development Network

Digital Maker CIC had the privilege of being asked to run a robotics challenge workshop for the CDN (College Development Network Scotland) in Dundee & Angus College’s Gardyne campus on Friday 28th of September for over 20 College Lecturers.

Teams from all over Scotland joined us for a fun day, exploring, building & programming robots in order to compete in various challenges once the teams were ready. We gave each team a CamJam robotics kit with minimal worksheets / instructions and spent around 30 mins building the kits, using raspberry Pi Zeros & piTop Ceeds (to control / interface with the robot rover via  5 meter USB cable). the Edinburgh team took the initiative to make their rover wirelessly controlled, downloading & installing software through their own phone (extra points there!)

Once everyone had built & played with their rovers, controlling it via simple on-screen button & programmable interfaces (Custom Adapted Blockly by Digital Maker CIC), we then added a line detection sensor, giving the participants experience in electronics & GPIO use on the Pi Zero. The challenge was to create a line following algorithm using only 1 sensor & the Blockly interface, to get the team’s rover around a line path in the quickest time. There were a lot of different approaches, using repeat loops, “if statements” and more. One of the most elegant solutions was a simple algorithm by West Lothian College.

All teams produced line following algorithms with varying degrees of success, but, all teams were resilient & spent time honing their algorithms, trying various tweaks & fixes based on their observations, critical thinking & experimentation, which was great to see. The fastest line follower was under 1 minute, the longest (complete circuit) was just under 3 minutes.

Some teams managed to start exploring adding an ultrasonic distance sensor (HC SR04) to tackle the minimal maze we had brought along too, but, time had got the better of us, and after 6 hours of playing, experimenting, trying and learning, time was up!

We’d like to thank Kenji Lamb for organising the event & asking Digital Maker CIC to facilitate the workshop. We are planning to run a 2nd CDN Robotics CPD challenge with Kenji in 2019… so if you are interested, or want more information, please do get in touch!

College Development Network – DM CIC Robotics workshop

We were asked by the College Development Network to put on a robotics workshop for their CPD provision, so we gladly said YES!

Here’s a link to the course in Dundee & Angus College. They have kindly agreed to host the event at their Gardyne campus, and CDN are looking for college staff keen to exercise their engineering, programming and design skills on the 28th of September. 

Full details & links are here : https://www.events.cdn.ac.uk/ehome/362505?&t=30f2d8676e7ed69370facb7507bd3a4e

First Class for Driverless Car workshop in Northfeld Academy

Digital Maker’s Martin & Phil rolled out the first class of the five week Driverless Car workshop in Northfield Academy yesterday, with 20 pupils ranging from S1 – S6.

An introduction to the areas covered & straight onto building the 1/16th scale cars that are used with the Raspberry Pi & Camera. Everyone was fantastic, really productive, inquisitive, collaborative, it was a real pleasure to work with the Pupils. Also a special mention to science teacher, Mr Hunter, his help & assistance during the 2 hour class was brilliant, thank you so much for a great start to what we hope is a very rewarding & challenging class, which we believe is a first for Aberdeen, and Scotland!

Driverless Car Workshop – Call to Participate.

Digital Maker CIC are looking for 20 young people (11-18 years old) to join us for a five week course at Transition Extreme to build, maintain, program and use driverless cars!

Working in teams, we will build a state of the art 1/16th scale car, learn about the technology involved in running an A.I (Artificial Intelligence) robot in order to train & race them!

The 20 spaces are free to join (thanks to the U-Decide funding from Aberdeen City Council), so be quick! This is a first for Aberdeen & Scotland!

The sessions will start on Friday, September 7th & end on October 5th 2018 (4.30-6.30pm)

Participants must be:

  • Over 11 years of age
  • Live in Community Council areas of:
    • Aberdeen City Centre
    • Castlehill & Pittodrie
    • George Street

If you want to be in with a chance of joining us, send us an email to AwesomeTech@digital-maker.co.uk First Come, First Served.

youTube video uploads for Driverless Car R&D

We’ve uploaded 2 videos of the work we’ve done so far on preparing for the Driverless Car workshops we’re running soon.

We’ve documented the first “track” (Masking tape on the floor)

and then the black paper track + 2 different types of tape (for higher contrast).

Driverless Car Workshop development

We’ve been working in Aberdeen’s Transition Extreme to develop & test our Driverless car workshop, with great success. We’re learning a lot, honing the car, coding, track & driving techniques…

Here’s a little bit of footage from the car on our last test. We’d developed a more contrasted track with black paper & coloured tapes, which is providing excellent images for the processor / AI.

Pi Wars Scotland

On the 26th of May, Digital-Maker CIC ran a full day event in the University of Strathclyde for families & robotics enthusiasts.

Having been given the blessing of Pi-Wars (thanks Michael Horne & Tim Richardson!) (and a logo!) We put out the call for teams to join us in a friendly competition, using various courses & obstacles. Our entrants mostly consisted of families with little or no experience of making & running robots. We were also honoured to have Danila Deliya join us from London with his amazing robots.

We set up our pi-top Ceed units & obstacle courses, helped by our fantastic volunteers, Kerry Kidd (@RaspiKidd) and Alec-Angus Macdonald (@alecangus). We were then joined at 10am by our participants. Primary School kids, teenagers, mums & dads full of excitement & trepidation, all saying this was the first time they had done something like this…

Martin gave a short intro to the day, what we (Digital Maker CIC) do & got straight into building CamJam EduKit 3 robotics kits we handed out. The teams worked at their own pace & constructed their 2 wheel robots, working from worksheets. Once built, the teams started to test the driving functions they had programmed in Python 3, moving on to adding sensors (line following & ultrasonic “distance sensors”). The rest of the day was filled with testing, coding, testing, more coding, testing and a little bit of fun competition with the worlds most robust balloons. (for the jousting challenge).

The line following course was a hit with a family that had been struggling with a previous course that was too reflective & our set up was prefect, and after some tweaking, their beautiful bot made full circuits around the course.

The “minimal maze” was also a great hit with some of the families with younger kids, as creating & honing an algorithm using our customised Blockly Interface , making them think about distance, time, directions, with exciting & satisfying results.

We thoroughly enjoyed our first adventure in setting up & running a robotics event in Scotland. The feedback we received from the participants was very encouraging. We were told the event was fun, engaging, welcoming & not intimidating at all, sounds like a lot of “growth mindsets” in the house!

We’ll be running a Pi Wars Scotland again next year, having learned a lot this year, we’ll be more visual & confident with the next one, so, eyes peeled for news & application forms.

Thank to everyone that joined us on Saturday 26th May, we couldn’t have done it without you! and, you really helped us with your positive vibes & relaxed approach to all we offered.

Below are some photos from the day.

New Mission To Mars in Riverbank Primary School

Digital Maker CIC have started their 7 week course “Journey to Mars” in Riverbank Primary, Aberdeen.

We have previously run this workshop in St Peter’s, Woodside & Seaton Primary Schools, where pupils get hand on experience of electronics, computer programming, team work, design & engineering tasks, as well as experiencing critical & creative thinking, growth mindset, communication & problem solving.

The 7 weeks consist of, “scene setting”, where we discuss space travel, Scottish geography, NASA Mars exploration history, the solar system & anything the pupils bring up when shown the videos & images we bring. We then build a working Rover, working with CamJam robotics kits & laser cut PTFE chassis, the pupils have to construct & wire their robots from illustrations & trial & error. We love this task, as we see a lot of “Growth Mindset” creeping in, it always starts with “this is too difficult” to “yeah! look at our finished robot!”… emphasis on “trying” and making mistakes is key to our teaching philosophy. A lot of knowledge transfer can come form this task too, where pupils that complete the task early, ask to help others & show pitfalls & tips to complete their robots.

The following weeks, we design & build garages / habitats for our rovers from cardboard & MakeDo construction kits. We then explore making a simple program in a customised Blockly environment on the Raspberry PI to control the robot from a set start point to drive into the base, creating a repeatable algorithm. We learn about coordinates & instructions & what an algorithm is & does.

We then start introducing sensors & electronics to the kit, a line follower, an LED, a distance sensor… with around 4 weeks of deep learning & play / experimentation in using electronics & computer coding to control robotic tasks.

We have learned a lot ourselves when teaching this workshop & would like to thank all the schools that have had us so far, it’s really rewarding to see pupils surprising themselves with what they are capable of & enjoying challenging tasks.

Mission to Mars workshops

Digital Maker CIC have been working in some schools in Aberdeen, thanks to the Aberdeen City Council “U Decide” participatory funding we won last year.

We’ve just finished in Seaton & Woodside primary’s, running 7 week courses with the P6 & P7 themed around a “Mission to Mars”. During our time with the pupils, we’ve covered, Scottish Geography, Design, Electronics, Maths, Mapping, Engineering, Computing & Programming, pulling a wide range of skills & activities together, to create & manage working Rover (Robotics vehicles).

We’ve had fantastic feedback from the pupils & teachers. Below is a lovely testimonial from Ms Masters, P7 Teacher in Seaton.

I have loved having Awesome Tech in our class, and so have the children. They have helped teach skills such as resilience and applying a growth mindset, and there have been so many amazing ‘lightbulb’ moments! The children are applying skills and meeting outcomes that can be tricky for teachers to incorporate otherwise- and can be beyond our own subject knowledge! It has given confidence to pupils who find other areas of the curriculum challenging and allowed them to hone their skills in working as part of a team. It’s rare to have visitors who not only have such subject knowledge but are also so effective at working with children- my class think Martin and Phil are just the best and look forward to every visit!

Line Following robotics Rover & Raspberry Pi set up for programming

Digital Maker CIC win major funding & support from FirstPort Scotland.

Digital Maker CIC has won £25,000 funding from FirstPort Scotland to boost their business, providing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics) education to Aberdeen Schools.

Set up in 2017, Digital Maker CIC’s mission was to get high quality STEAM education to pupils that don’t usually have access to the technology, expertise & opportunities. Digital Maker CIC have had a phenomenal first year of business, working for the Prince’s Trust, Edinburgh & Abu Dhabi Science Festivals and Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire councils’ Schools impressing FirstPort with their work and passion to get exciting STEAM education to pupils that don’t usually have access to it.

“This funding is going to help Digital Maker CIC a great deal” said Martin Evans, Director and lead tutor, “It gives us funding to develop new workshops & curriculums, and offer our services to underfunded areas in need of STEAM education”. Philip Thompson, also a director and lead tutor for Digital Maker CIC  said “It’s also given us a confidence boost, FirstPort were really excited about what we’re doing & see the benefits of our work for pupils that don’t have the kinds of opportunities we offer, we can really contribute to the Scottish Government’s plans to get Scottish School Pupils digitally savvy & turned on to STEAM opportunities”.

With the FirstPort funding, Digital Maker CIC are in a strong position to expand their business and provide more high quality STEAM education in Aberdeen and beyond.