‘Future Makers’ give children and young people a taste of programming, from website and game to wearables. The open source materials are available to use as a learning tool or to plan similar events. Part 1 was about planning your event. Part 2 is an Introduction to Programming. It can be a stand-alone workshop or the first day of a weeklong workshop.
In this workshop, Future Makers are introduced to the power of the internet and start to build coding skills:
· Use the internet to solve complex problems.
· Set up a Raspberry Pi.
· Build a Raspberry Pi twitterbot.
Introduction (45 minutes)
- Future Makers and facilitators introduce themselves and describe their previous coding experience and favourite apps or games
- What is Future Makers? Presentation to set the context & introduce the team
- What will you be doing this week? Timetable
- What we ask from you? + Create, Share, Promote
Quiz (45 minutes)
Divide Future Makers into small groups and ask them to decide upon a team name. This is a good way to break the ice and encourage a sense of team-work. You can design your own quiz or use the quiz below, starting with the presentation.
The quiz explores the culture of technology: famous innovators, big brands and countries of product origin. Future Makers are tested on ‘the faces of computing’ and asked to identify devices, such as gamers and smartphones.
- The first part challenges Future Makers on their knowledge of digital products and the people who make them.
- The second part sets challenges which reveal how technology can be used to solve complex problems, for example, translating a paragraph from Polish to English.
Distribute Quiz Worksheet without giving explicit instructions. The aim of the quiz is to get the participants to consider how web tools can help them find answers they don’t have. Give the Future Makers 15 minutes to work though the questions.
Go over the Solutions as a group. For each question ask one of the Future Makers to walk you through the steps they took. Follow their instructions and demonstrate this on the screen.
Suggested Age Group: 8+
Groups of 3 – 4
Materials: Laptop or Computer x 1 per Future Makers, Paper, Pens, Monitor or Projector for Presentations
- Did anybody take different steps to arrive at a solution? If so did they both reach the same solution. Which was the most effective method?
- Did you answer any of the question in your head? Would it have taken longer or less time to find the answer online?
- Think of other times when these tools might be useful. How can they be used at school or in other activities that you do?
Google Blockly (45 minutes)
After the introduction, it’s time to get coding. Blockly is a visual programming editor and a fun way to teach key programming concepts without having to learn lots of new syntax. The challenge is to go through the maze by creating your own programme.
On the Google Blockly Website, click the maze tutorial. The participants work independently through the levels at their own pace. Offer assistance where needed. Encourage Future Makers to complete all levels (there are tips if they are struggling). As it gets more difficult, suggest the ‘Follow a Wall’ solution (see discussion below). Other activities are available on the website for those who finish faster.
- The ‘Follow A Wall’ technique involves metaphorically putting your hand on the wall of a maze and following it to the exit. This may not provide the most direct route but you will always come to the end.
- Did you notice that your code from the last level would have solved the Maze for every level? When programming, the best code will be the one that will always find the right solution, even if it doesn’t always take the most direct route.
“It’s good to understand some coding, even though we’re not experts yet.”
Future Maker, 9
Break from computing (1hour 45 minutes)
Getting started with Raspberry Pi
A Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into a TV and a keyboard. The little computer can do many of the things a desktop PC does: spreadsheets, word-processing and games. Raspberry Pi is made by an educational charity based in the UK; it is a fantastic platform to teach young people programming skills.
Each Pi comes bundled with free software aimed at young developers (including Scratch, a visual programming language developed by MIT, and Python). Right out of the box young people have the tools to start building their own apps, games and more. The device is small and cheap enough to be used as a dedicated machine for a project.
The introduction lasts around 45 minutes for 8-11 year olds and 1h for 12-17 year olds.
- Introduce Raspberry Pi using the Future Makers Raspberry Pi Presentation.
- Explain what Raspberry Pi is and what it can be used for.
- Discuss caring for the Raspberry pi and its components.
Raspberry Pi for 8-11 year olds: Screaming Jelly Baby (1.5 hours)
This workshop turns a Jelly baby into an input device for a Raspberry pi, it also details how to create a programme that will make it scream. Children work by groups of 3 or 4.
Raspberry Pi for 12-17 year olds: Create a Raspberry Pi Twitter Bot (2 hours)
Build an automated Raspberry Pi Bot that takes photos and posts them to Twitter.
Further info: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WTd_Lc7xlZWz5rxdFk9FsB5DqTPhtYYcDOlTWs0Yqkk/edit
Raspberry Pi for 12-17 year olds: Twitter Bot (2 hours)
This complex workshop sees the participants build an automated Raspberry Pi Twitterbot which takes photos and posts them to Twitter.
Suggested age group: 12-17 year olds by groups of 4
Materials: Laptop or Computer x 1 per participant, 1 x Raspberry Pi per group, 1 x Keyboard and Mouse per Pi, 1 x Raspberry Pi Camera per group, 1 x Monitor with HDMI Ports per Pi, 1 x HDMI cable per Pi
The Raspberry Pi cameras are very sensitive, in particular to static electricity, so the Future Makers need to be very careful. Avoid metal desks. The cameras are around £20 per camera at the time of the workshop so motion sensors could be used as a more robust and affordable alternative.
1. Set up PicCam
- Take a test picture (command line)
- Write a program to take a picture
2. Register a Twitter App
- Set up a Twitter account. It might be easier and quicker to set up the accounts before the workshops to avoid delays with the email confirmations. Participants would still be able to edit the name and information on the day.
- Set up a new Twitter Application
- Get keys
3. Control your Python Project
- Install Twython
- Send a test Tweet
- Create a program that tweets a picture from PiCam
- Create a CRON job to automate it
- 2 jobs (one just for the pictures, one for tweeting)
- Pictures every minute, tweets every half