Last week we had a very enjoyable day at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls running a Crazy Golf Workshop, this workshop is proving very popular this term and I’m sure you can see why! It encompasses so many different aspects of STEAM learning by combining coding knowledge with design and technology to build an interactive crazy golf obstacle.
What is a Crazy Golf Workshop?
In our Crazy Golf workshop learners work together to problem-solve and build a mini golf course, which involves the use of physical computing to program and build fun interactions to trigger throughout the course. First they need to program the micro:bit’s light sensor to detect when the ball passes through a tunnel at the start of the course, this restricts the light reading briefly which triggers other events to happen, such as a spinning ferris wheel or a monster’s mouth opening (to name but a few).
To build their creations learners use a micro:bit and connect additional electronics using a ring:bit as a breakout board. This allows servos and NeoPixel LED strips to be connected easily and also provides power through the connected battery pack. Throughout the workshop learners must, not only, overcome coding challenges but they also have to consider their designs to create something that is both appealing and robust. The girls produced some amazing results and had a great time as well. Here’s a video showing an overview of the day:
Did you know today is International Women in Engineering Day? This is a yearly event celebrating the amazing work that women engineers around the world are doing to support lives and livelihoods every day. You can read more about it here.
Here at U Can Too we’re big supporters of women in technology and engineering so we thought today would be a great time to shine a spotlight on one of our recent all-girl workshops at Highworth Grammar School for Girls. Here the girls became both programmers and engineers when they had the job of creating interactive obstacles for a micro:bit powered crazy golf course in our Crazy Golf Workshop!
What is a Crazy Golf Workshop?
In our Crazy Golf workshop learners work together to problem-solve and build a mini golf course, which involves the use of physical computing to program and build fun interactions to trigger throughout the course. First they need to program the micro:bit’s light sensor to detect when the ball passes through a tunnel at the start of the course, this then triggers other events to happen, such as a spinning windmill or a crocodile’s mouth opening (to name but a few). This workshop really brings out the imagination in young people, not only challenging their programming skills but also their engineering prowess as if their obstacles aren’t strong enough they will break before the ball passes through!
The girls produced some amazing results and had a great time as well!
As you can see, our workshops are not solely focussed on computing, there is a lot of art, creativity and engineering going on at the same time encoompassing all aspects of STEAM in education! If you’re interested in booking one of our workshops in your school, check out our workshop list here.
We recently had the pleasure of being invited back to Holmewood House School for two more days of workshops; a Sphero obstacle course and our Robot Petting Zoo. We’ve delivered workshops here in the past and were delighted to be invited back for more, today I’m going to tell you about our Robot Petting Zoo workshop with year 4 children.
What is a Robot Petting Zoo?
As the name suggests, the Robot Petting Zoo workshop involves children building their own robotic creatures! With this their imaginations really ran wild with a rather eclectic collection, ranging from fire-breathing dragons to piranhas, a ghost and even a flying pig!
In this particular workshop we allowed the children to be flexible in their ideas by choosing their own designs, however, we can easily adapt our workshops to fit a theme or particular learning topic, for example bringing characters from a story to life or portraying a moment in history.
Starting with Coding
Before the children began building their creatures we gave them a brief introduction to robotics and they investigated how we can use a micro:bit and MakeCode to make things happen! The children enjoyed making an image appear on the micro:bit’s LED display before learning how to program a motor to make things move.
Designing and Building a Robotic Creature
Once they had got to grips with the coding they designed their creatures on paper first before they began building, they used their coding knowledge to incorporate a motor into their builds to add movement such as wagging tails, shaking heads and even a protruding tongue.
At the end we put all the creatures on display, after the children had modified their code so the robots reacted to “on loud sound” here’s the result:
Our Activated Art workshops are usually themed around the artist, Kandinsky, but can be easily adapted to any artist or theme. In this workshop, the children begin by investigating what his art would look like if he had been motivated by movement, then build and code their own moving piece of art.
Our recent Activated Art workshop began with an assembly-style introduction in which we talked about who Kandinsky was and what inspired him. The children had been studying Kandinsky recently so already had some amazing knowledge that they were able to share with us! We were so impressed by how much they had remembered, and we even learnt some new facts too!
We showed them our ‘moving art’ example within the assembly, and there was clear excitement about what they could produce.
Building the Artwork
After the assembly children were given break-out time in their classrooms to create the base for their pieces of art ready to add the moving section later on, we provided all of the materials needed so it was nice and easy for them to get started with their teachers. We were so impressed with their artistic skills; here’s a snapshot of some of their work, as you can see they really stuck to the theme nicely:
Coding and Moving
Later in the day, each class took part in a coding workshop to learn more about the micro:bit and how they could use their coding skills to make a servo motor spin. They were able to confidently connect everything together, working in pairs, and build their code. It was such an amazing moment when lots of the children hit the ‘download’ button at the same time, and we heard the eruptions of “WOW!” echoing around the room when they could see their artwork moving.
It was a “wow” moment for me too as the newest member of the team as it was the first time I had seen this workshop in action. It was so rewarding to see their faces light up when everything came together for the showcase at the end!
Activated Art Showcase
At the end of the day, we put all the artwork for each class on display so the children could see it all working and look at each other’s masterpieces!
Here’s a video that gives an overview of the day:
If you would like to book this workshop in your own school or business, please use our contact page to get in touch!
Blog Post by Nicki - Computing Curriculum Specialist at U Can Too
We recently had the pleasure of delivering our Drone Assault Course workshop using the micro:bit at Maidstone Girls Grammar School. The participants were an enthusiastic group of 33 GCSE Computing students who took over the sports hall for a day bursting with creativity, inspiration, coding and excitement!
What is a Drone Assault Course workshop?
You're probably pondering the question: What is a Drone Assault Course workshop? This is an engaging full day workshop aimed at secondary school children (years 7 to 11) where the learners participate in Drone Flying School and learn how to apply physical computing by using a micro:bit to build a range of interactive obstacles. Learners work in teams to build their obstacles and then earn points by successfully flying the drone through each one. This workshop brings together a huge range of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) skills as learners not only use a pocket-sized computer called a micro:bit to control motors, sensors and LEDs but they also need to overcome engineering challenges to ensure their structures are strong and functional. An artistic flare from our recent learners really brought the obstacles to life, with many choosing a dark, twisted theme!
Getting Started with the micro:bits
Before building their obstacles, learners are given a crash-course in using the micro:bit to control motors, respond to inputs and light an array of LEDs; they are then introduced to their challenge, addressing ways in which the motors can be combined with various mechanisms like a winch and touch sensor.
The learners work in teams, collaboratively choosing their own theme for their drone assault course and assigning roles, the teams were broken down further with learners working in pairs on each individual obstacle. From here they planned their mechanism on paper before using the available resources to construct their final product. Once each obstacle was complete the learners had their next engineering challenge of ensuring they were securely attached to the stands in order for the drone to fly through. This proved quite a challenge for some of the obstacles as the teams had to consider various support methods due to the weight of the items, and additional thought was required, particularly for some, which began to spin around when mounted. After securing the obstacles groups were able to tweak the programming for each mechanism to ensure it worked as intended.
The teams worked exceptionally hard throughout the day to ensure they were successful, with nearly all students actively choosing to cut their lunch-breaks short to continue working on the aesthetics of their obstacle courses in readiness for the big event!
As a new employee, this was the first U Can Too workshop I have attended, as I am the company's newest recruit, and what I found so interesting is how artwork and creativity merged so beautifully with both computing and engineering. The day had a whole cross-curricular feel to it, with so much incidental learning happening in addition to the main objectives. As the main focus on this occasion was Computing, the girls were allowed to choose their own themes, but this workshop could also be easily adapted if a school wished to bring other subjects in too, such as a story-telling aspect for English, a point in time for History or a place for Geography.
The end result was fantastic; the energy and anticipation from the year 11 students was clear to see, they had invested so much effort into their creations and were keen to see how they held up to the drones and curious to see how many points their team would accrue as they carefully navigated each obstacle. The event even attracted attention from other members of staff and sixth formers as they were passing by who chose to join in as spectators to cheer the groups on.
Flying the Drones
The girls had each spent a short session in Drone Flight School earlier in the day, where they learned how to safely fly the drones using an iPad app, so they were able to take turns to navigate their assault course in a relay-style race to complete as many as possible. Points were also awarded for creativity and innovation, and additional points were allocated to the more challenging obstacles; I was amazed to see the drone carefully flying through a ghost's mouth, not once but twice, as I had been convinced they had made the mouth too small!
Here's a video showing our highlights from the day:
If you would like to book this workshop in your own school or business, please use our contact page.