Driverless Car workshops – a five week course

Digital Maker CIC recently completed two 5-week driverless car workshops in Aberdeen. Northfield academy’s Science Club & Transition Extreme After School Club each had an exciting and challenging set of workshops for children aged 12+. Digital Maker CIC believes that these workshops are a “first” for the UK. Both projects were funded by Aberdeen City Council’s “U-decide” (participatory budgeting project).

The participants learned about Machine Learning, Engineering & design of the 1:16th scale cars, raspberry Pi terminal commands, to interface with the cars, computers    & cloud computing interfaces and driving the remote-controlled cars.

Working in teams of four, the pupils were given tasks of constructing & managing their cars, “training” and improving their driving skills, as the better the car is driven, the better the Machine Learning model will be. The pupils could quickly train & then produce ML models (via cloud computing), giving exciting results, as the cars drove themselves around the 4m2 tracks we use. The pupils quickly learned that the better they drove the cars, the automated driving improved.

The teams also tried to add obstacles (orange cones) into the modelling, creating various results (success & failure), but, with more training & time, the pupils understood that their cars would “get better” with time.

We’d like to thank Northfield Academy & Transition Extreme Sports Ltd for their support & use of space, in order that we could run the workshops. We are working on extending the workshops to Aberdeenshire & eventually have a North East interschools competition for the Driverless Car technology.

If you’d like more information, or want your school to participate in this project, please do get in touch!

AwesomeTech@digital-maker.co.uk

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

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