Author Archive | Daniel

Crumble heads to the Education Show

Last week, a few of us travelled up to the NEC, Birmingham for the Education Show. We were there mainly to exhibit the Crumble as the show tends to be geared towards Primary and Home Educators – and the Crumble is perfect for Primary Computing and Design and Technology. Loads of people had a go with the Crumble and there was a real excitement surrounding the stand.

We were sharing our stand with Mike and Beckie from UK STEM – they were launching their fantastic new initiative called ‘The Global Stem Award’ which you can find out about here.

When the show had quietened down, we even found time to set each other some Crumble challenges!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the show and it was great to meet so many new and familiar people, all of whom share our excitement and passion for education. We look forward to the next one.

Getting Musical with the Crumble

A Crumble powered instrument that can play a tune? You must be mad!

Don’t worry, we thought we were too, but after having this idea in our head for a long time, we finally bought a glockenspiel to try it out-  and lo and behold our Crumble powered glockenspiel is alive.

Surprisingly, you don’t need many parts to make the instrument work. A glockenspiel with a beater, two servos, some cable ties and a sticky pad or two. We placed it on a spare piece of corriflute so that we could keep the servos and the glockenspiel aligned.

We needed two servos for this. One servo with the “cross” attachment, and the other with the “double arm”. These were then wired into the Crumble, one on A and the other on B.

The two servos were then connected with sticky pads and cable ties. The bottom servo moves along the X axis (left to right), and the top servo along the Y axis (up and down).

To allow us to easily play the given notes, we created a variable for each one and worked out, through trial and error, which notes where at which angle.

We then moved onto setting out variables for a crotchet, a minim, and then the angles at which the top servo needs to be to hit the glockenspiel, and where it should rest at.

This is the block of code to hit the ‘F’ key, for one crotchet (same as the beat). The total of the wait statements is 750 milliseconds, which equals 80bpm.

And there you have it, one Crumble-powered Glockenspiel! Our instrument came with some free music, so we decided to use one of those pieces. After piecing together many snippets of code, here is Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – well the first line, in all of its Crumble-y glory.

Christmas has arrived!

Our first proper Christmas since we moved in to our new building with Mindsets. We’ve decided to mark the occasion with a suitably decorated tree!

We connected 20 Sparkles and a Sparkle Baton together using croc-leads. We then wrapped these around the tree, with the Baton on the top. The croc-leads are almost a decoration in themselves!

The Crumble is connected to a Raspberry Pi, which is connected to our network, meaning we can remote-desktop in and change the lights! It’s pretty much an Internet of Things Christmas tree.

We decided to add our big red button near the base of the tree, to allow the user to cycle through the light sequences. The code runs a light sequence, and waits for the button to be pressed before moving onto the next sequence.

We decided that the tree was a bit bland, especially during the day time, so we added a few more decorations to it.

And there we have it, our IoT Christmas tree, ready to be programmed by anyone in the office.

Kicking Off EU Code Week In Style

On Friday 6th October 2017, Joseph and Dan from Redfern/Mindsets and Mike Cargill from UKSTEM ventured into London, to help UCL kick start European Code Week. 

For those of you that don’t know, the European Code Week (EU Code Week) is a grass-roots initiative set up in 2013 by the Young Advisors for Digital Agenda Europe. The Code Week aims to get as many people as possible, from across Europe and the World, to take part in exciting Computer Science activities. It has been growing in success, with nearly 1 million  participants from across 50 countries taking part in 2016. 

The Code Week kickstart event took place at UCL’s BaseKX, Camden – a modern building, designed to provide a space for business start-ups to establish themselves. We were amongst about 15 different companies, including Lego education, Discovery Espresso and Ohbot. 

The morning started with a few guest speakers, discussing topics ranging from the history of coding, to the development of BaseKX. After a break, the various groups of children found their workshops, and the coding began. We had two different workshops running – one table of 10 children were working on line-drawing buggies, while the other table had a range of activities: our new countdown clock; a probability spinner; a reaction timer; and two matrix Sparkle displays. Each workshop ran for 40 minutes, and there were two more after lunch, so, all together, we got to work with around 60 children from 6 different schools. 

We love doing events like these, as they allow us to see the impact and enjoyment that the Crumble can have/cause. Without this, it’s really hard to judge what’s happening on the ‘front line’, unless we are given explicit feedback. It also gives us a great opportunity to see if our new ideas and projects are worthwhile, and whether they pass judgement from your average primary school child. At each of our workshop sessions there was a real sense of excitement and a buzz in the atmosphere. The children were always focused on their task and they were all desperate to reach the end-goal of their challenge.

When children are new to the Crumble they are great at finding bugs. We were trialling our latest Crumble software update and, sure enough, our first group discovered a bug! This is great because it allows us to fix these issues, before the software becomes public. These events also provide a good platform to test new workshop resources – all of our worksheets were new, along with two new products. As with anything new, there were a couple of teething issues, but this event allowed us to refine our workshop material and make it even better.  

Not only do these events provide us with a platform to let schools know about the Crumble, they provide us with a great opportunity to better ourselves – and for that we are thankful.  

The icing on the cake was being voted the favourite workshop by two separate schools. That’s not bad considering we only worked with six schools and had some high-quality competition!

Read more about Code Week 2017 news and events here.