24hr Code and Pi party at Nesta
Coming into the office on the weekend is usually avoided, but sometimes the reason is too worthwhile to pass up.
Last weekend Code Club and Raspberry Pi took over Nesta's lab-like first floor to run an experiment of its own: its first ever 24hr hack day.
For those who don't know, Code Club is a UK-wide initiative that has a simple but important mandate: to teach 9-11 year olds how to code.
How? By supporting a nationwide network of volunteer-led afterschool coding clubs with materials to help teach kids to code.
A simple idea, Code Club began when Linda Sandvik and Claire Sutcliffe decided to improve upon disappointing IT curricula currently taught in schools. Code Club is more than a network; it is rapidly becoming a movement. Since beginning in spring 2012, nearly 400 code clubs have popped up across the UK, with a further 325 primary schools looking for volunteers to help start a club. Prince Andrew and Tim Berners Lee (among many others) are already fans of Code Club, and their list of supporters continues to grow.
Raspberry Pi is a £30 computer that looks like a credit card sized circuit board. It runs off 5V and can, among other things, run linux and be used like a desktop computer. It was created by the brilliant Eben Upton and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory who had become concerned by the year on year decline in the number and skill levels of A level students applying to read Computer Science. In the 1990's most students applying were experienced hobbyist programmers but in the 2000's many had only done a little web design.
The 24hr hack
We started on Sunday at 11am when over 60 hackers (including kids, developers, designers and educationists) were given a Raspberry Pi and a brief - to make something cool and easily replicable for a school with a Raspberry Pi. It wasn't easy, but it did happen. By Saturday's end little remained of the Slush Puppies, Pick 'n' Mix, Giant Jenga, Play-dough and LEGO that has been brought in to spur on the troops.
And by Sunday afternoon we saw some fantastic results including: a 'Minband' which used the Pi to run Scratch and process theAarduino-driven output from an electric guitar, drums and maracas; the 'Hair Razzos' a decorated robot-box which used scratch to move all the parts; 'Traffic light' which used Scratch and some red and green led lights, and many more.
Supported by a variety of organisations - including Raspberry Pi, Nesta, sugru, O'Reilly, oomlout, MakieLab and Bare Conductive - the event was a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone involved and produced some fantastic results.