Robots! Sensors! Lasers! Music! What a way to spend your Holidays.

Our Holiday Camp was an amazing experience full of surprises and important lessons- for Etienne and I as much as for our wonderful students.

In designing the course we imagined a playful space in which we empowered students to explore their own creativity through and with technology.

We didn’t anticipate just how clever and creative our students would be – or just how much they would get through.

Both Etienne and I have taught extensively at university and what these kids achieved in a week exceeded what many of our students get through in twelve weeks at university – and always with a kind of lack of fear and willingness to try that we hadn’t anticipated.

We were very ambitious – asking our students not only to use a computer but effectively build one from scratch and then to program it themselves using off the shelf components – screen, buttons, sound and sensors included. They did it all – from wiring it up to programming the device.

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What is more, they all succeeded in creating projects of their own design after only a couple of days of coding experience. That’s not something you are going to get in a class with 30 students staring at screens all day doing structured step by steps – and its something that requires expert teachers able to respond and adapt to the potential of student and project on demand.

By the end of the week they had created;

The  Anti Sister Device – A device that uses a motion sensor to detect, record and alert you that your sibling has entered your room and leaves them a message to boot!

Snake Dot – A fully functioning handheld game and console based on the classic game ‘snake’.

Tiny Score – A program that played Hedwig’s theme (from Harry Potter) while displaying an animated manuscript.

Spywire   –  A game that used a laser trip wire and a timer to record your progress through a crazy obstacle course.

Scaredy Vamp – A Vampire that hid from the light and came out in the dark.

Lazer-Bi – A laser trip wire game, this time requiring you to avoid the tripwire in order to steal a diamond.

Like Light – A flower design that grew according to the changing light conditions in the room.

On the Thursday we took a break from these projects and recycled discarded electric toys to create out of control robots….we built robots from scratch in a day….and the sense of excitement and of realised possibilities was tangible.

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For me one of the best moments during the week was early in the second day when we showed the students how to play a simple tone using their Arduino and a piezo speaker. The next thing we knew the students were coding their device to play their favourite movie themes, songs, or using their sensors to control the pitch and helping each other to do so. (see the video at the top)

It’s moments like this in which students are completely absorbed in autonomous exploration of creative potential together that suggest we are on the right track.

Thanks to our students…it was a terrific week and I can’t wait to work with you all again.

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