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Tinkering and coding with teens for a future of digital making

Zoe RomanoMarch 20th, 2013

one day digital Pic by Alan Richardson Dundee,

At the beginning of march Christopher Martin, researcher in applied computer,  wrote us an email to tell us that he got involved in an ambitious plan taking place:  100 school pupils, 5 different digital-maker themes in 1 day for 4 subsequent weeks across Scotland.

The event called “One Day Digital” started on the 2nd of March at the Dundee University, where he is based,  and is organized by Nesta, supported by the Nominet Trust, O2 Think Big and the Scottish Government which created it as part of a wider programme called “Digital Makers” . It is especially aimed at:

encourage and enable a generation of young people to create, rather than simply consume, technology. Working closely with a consortium of partners, we are launching a campaign to highlight the benefits of learning digital skills and encourage innovation in digital education to equip young people with the skills they need to thrive in the digital world.

one day digital Pic by Alan Richardson Dundee,

Chris  was running the Arduino session supporting  12 students (age 13/14) on their first steps with C programming and some bread boarding with Arduino UNO.  He wrote on his blog:

After a fairly intense 2 hours or so lights had flashed, dials had been turned and various coding techniques learned. It was really interesting to see how quickly the loose association of school pupils came together as a team, eagerly helping each other when they could. After a well earned lunch we moved on to some more output modes and looked at writing functions to control an RGB LED and used a bunch of variable resistors to make a colour mixer. I think the highlight was the getting the speaker to play different tones, controlling the pitch with one variable resistor and the timing with the other. Quite eerily the air was full of monotonic blips and beeps like a room of R2D2s.

The format of the Arduino session worked like this: a morning of coding and breadboarding and then an afternoon busy on building some “physicalApp” to make something they care about. The term physicalApp is a cool concept coined by Jon Rogers  and pulls together a multitude of physical computing project hackery.

one day digital - Pic Alan Richardson Dundee,

One of the neat app ideas that came up was a drawing machine based on what a knitting needle is doing: the prototype is just using random servo position (rather than accelerometer data) and you need to feed paper under it by hand.

one day digital Pic by Alan Richardson Dundee,

It’s great to see teens getting involved and inspired by tinkering and coding. If you are interested in attending one of their two upcoming events (23rd and 30th of March) click here,  or keep receiving info about ongoing activities  from Facebook.


one day digital